Posts By Donna Ladd

Resolve to write! 2018 Writing Classes Begin Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018


***Until midnight on Friday, Dec. 1: $199 for five classes ($151 off!)***

Want to write to change your world? The world at large? Your city? Your state? Your personal life? Your career?

My popular “Writing to Change Your World” creative non-fiction class series kicks off the first week of January. In my classes, which I’ve taught for more than 20 years, I coach you to write sparkling creative non-fiction stories, essays, columns, and memoir scenes and chapters. In these interactive workshops, you will demystify the process of writing and bring out your natural storyteller. The classes will empower you to write the story you’ve always wanted to tell. Learn the kinds of writing that persuade and engage readers, while developing your voice by writing stories you care about. No previous writing experience needed, and we work on original writing in the class, not existing manuscripts.

A class workbook and snacks/drinks at every class are included in the fee. Must register in advance; credit cards accepted; gift certificates for future classes are available in any amount starting at $25.

Class series includes five 2018 Saturday class meetings, noon – 2:30 p.m.:
Jan. 6, Jan. 20, Feb. 3, Feb. 10 and Feb. 24 in Capital Towers in downtown Jackson:
125 S.  Congress St., Suite 1324 in the JFP’s large, open learning space.

(All classes video + audio recorded if you have to miss.)

Regular price: $350
Register quickly and get the following specials:

***Until midnight on Wednesday, Jan. 3: $275 for five classes (if space available) ***
After Jan. 3: $350 for remaining available spaces
Also includes free “How to Sell Your Writing Workshop” (April 21, 2018, tentatively), value $100
Plus, you’ll get 20 percent off other future classes

Write to register, to pay by credit card and to get on mailing list. Call 601.966.0834 for further information.
Limited spots available! Register now.

Class fees are non-refundable unless we’re able to draw from a waiting list to fill your spot. All checks should be made out to “Donna Ladd” and dropped or mailed to: Donna Ladd, JFP, 125 S. Congress St., Suite 1324, Jackson, MS 39201 (same place the class meets). Gift certificates are non-refundable.

Register now at

Read more about the writing instructor at

Hope to see you in class!

Companies and nonprofits: I’m available to do in-house workshops for your team members on improving their writing and storytelling, as well as bringing more creativity into their work and lives. Ask me about my “Creative S.W.O.T” analysis to help your folks tap into their creative potential at work, and combine their workplace strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with fun, creative strategies for success that strengthen the workplace culture.




Great class. I highly recommend it. Will help you become a better writer or give you the tools to become a writer.
— Bryan Flynn

I absolutely love Donna Ladd’s classes. Donna empowers you to find your individual voice in writing and challenges you to find your unique perspective through narrative non-fiction and other methods of writing. She encourages your inner writing diva and provides guidance and wisdom along the way. I consider Donna a mentor and a friend.
— Anita Modak-Truran

I have taken Donna Ladd’s classes 101 and 202 and could not be happier with the information I have received. Donna has motivated me to write more and taught me how to rewrite my work increasing the quality and readability. If you are interested in improving your writing style and learning about non-fiction writing, I strongly recommend Donna’s 101 class.
— Kenneth Pennington

When I started the classes I had nothing written down on paper. Donna has inspired me to write pages and pages and really enjoy it. It has gotten a lot easier to sit down and get the words from my brain through my fingers. She has taught me how to show my stories, not just tell them.
— Carolyn Grant

There is no better way to spend a Monday night…. than Shut up and Write. No mystery here: I think Donna’s Shut Up and Write series is one of Jackson’s best-kept secrets. Donna’s class has changed my life! Are you brave enough to change yours?
— Pat Bullock Williams

Donna Ladd’s 101 Writing Class gently guided my pen from my private journal pages to pages for others to read. The course is an amazing conglomeration of fun, instruction on technique, fun, candor, fun, emphasis on truth telling, fun, and FUN!
— Jackie Warren Tatum

UPDATE from Jackie, who published her first book in late 2016:

It was in freelancing for you that I began; it was in your writing class, Donna, that I discovered the courage to understand that I was a writer.

— Jackie Warren Tatum

You changed mine! I am still writing. I am thankful every day for you.

— Emily P. Levin

I dare you to try and take just one. I’m going to need a 12-step program to get through my Donna withdrawals when 303 is over in a couple weeks.
— Kristen Phillips

Time stands still in each class! It’s hard to grasp having access to such an incredible education right here in Jackson, MS! This experience has totally inspired me!
— Candy Hagwood

Register now and get more information at or call 601-966-0834.

Read more about the writing instructor at

Happy writing!

Reporting Advice: Shut Up and Listen

When I made the resolution back in January to get out and do more of the kinds of immersive reporting I love this year, I had no idea what that was going to mean. Fast forward four months, and I’m in New York City for the second time in two months deep into reporting on an issue vital to American society right now. (Stay tuned: I’ll reveal exactly what that is soon.)

It’s always interesting to report while on the move, whether that is a nearby town to where you live, or a city 1,000 miles away where you have to move from an AirBNB to a journalist friend’s bedroom to save on costs so you actually end up getting paid for all your efforts. So much about it is logistics: You have to make the call, or send the email, to get to who you want.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from my years of reporting: Always ask. That is, no matter who you want to interview, always try. Of course, anyone can say no, but they often won’t, especially if you clearly have done your homework and you really want to hear what they have to say.

If You’re Writing To Change, You Will Be Criticized

A week ago, I published my latest opinion column in The Guardian, knowing full well that it would cause a shit-storm. As a fairly progressive writer and person, I’ve discovered over the years that it’s not the people with polar-opposite beliefs who can be the most offensive, and even hurtful, when I write something they disagree with; it’s the people who expect you to carry the same water who can get the most upset.

No one likes a traitor. Or, at least someone they decide is a traitor. They will cheer you on and put you on a pedestal as long as you stay in their line, but when you dare to step out and look at something differently, you’d better look out. So, what results is a whole bunch of writers and journalists who either pander to a certain choir, and pull punches that crowd wouldn’t like, or who split boring stories down the middle with quotes from two “sides” and call it objective. Of course, it’s also usually boring and does little to make someone think.

I don’t write or choose my topics that way. I don’t play it safe.

Never Fear the R-Word: Reporting

It’s inevitable. When I launch a new Writing to Change 101 non-fiction class series, I get nervous-but-excited students signing up, many of whom are well into adulthood and have itched to write their entire lives. They want to tell their stories in one way or another, and all have stories to tell.

Many of them have had trouble sitting down long enough to write a few sentences, or they fear they won’t be any good, or they fear that somebody either will or won’t read their work. In many cases, they just don’t know how to get started. They know there’s at least one good story resting inside themselves, but they don’t know how to pull it out.

I send them a list comprised mostly of award-winning stories my paper has published, and then they show up and gather around the table. We talk about their obstacles, do some warm-up free writing, and then I get to the “writing process” part. And each time, I know many of them will be shocked by the second step on the sheet.

The first step is easy. They need an idea. Most of them have more of them, at least vague ones, than they know what to do with.

The second step on the list is “report.” This is where the fear sets in and, sometimes, the protestations.

“I’m not here to be a reporter,” one or another might say.

Damn, That’s Bad. But That’s Good!

I see it every time I start a new series of my narrative non-fiction writing classes. A group of folks who have wanted to write much of their lives, and haven’t figured how to make themselves to do it yet, crowd around my big table with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.

For the first class, I have students do a free write about their obstacle(s) to writing. We then discuss the obstacles and, almost to a person, their obstacle ends up being about fear. (Even the time-management monster so many live with is often about fear when they’re really honest about it, but we’ll get to that later.)

I don’t want to sound dumb.

I don’t spell well.

I don’t think I’m good enough.

I might be embarrassed or criticized.

All about fear. Every single one of them.

But fear of what? Usually of looking stupid, or of being exposed as a poser, which is the same thing. As someone who grew up in Mississippi where we have elevated deep-held inferiority complexes to an art form, I get what this feels like. To this very day, I have to overcome (usually) fleeting moments of feeling like I’m not worthy right before I pitch an idea or project I know that I’m full well capable of nailing. And I know I’ve lost opportunities due to this fear of not being good enough slapping me silly and causing me to not return a call or follow up something I should. It’s always about fear, if I’m honest.