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My Experience with MasterClass 2021 - Part 2

by Derek Evers 15 days ago in courses

"As someone who’s been experimenting with new sleep methods for a while, much of Walker’s discussion was a review of things I’ve already learned. But there is one concept that has been revolutionary for my sleep habits: chronotypes."

Welcome to the second part in my MasterClass series where I share my experience using the skill sharing platform with all of you! If you’re unsure of what MasterClass is or if you want to read the first part of this series, please click here.

It’s been about a month since I posted the first part to this series and I’ve made a lot of progress since then. I want to talk about a few different classes I’ve completed since January. First, let’s discuss finishing Billy Collins’ poetry MasterClass.

Collins’ class has been the longest one yet, but it was most certainly worth it. It was fun being able to listen to Billy Collins talk about poetry, but the real value of the class is in the PDF workbook.

As I mentioned in the first part of this series, every class comes with a PDF workbook that you can download and keep even if you choose to not renew your subscription the following year. The workbooks are great because it’s easier for me to identify the key points from a class. Regarding Collins’ class, the workbook provides many more exercises for practicing poetry writing, too.

The exercises have been extremely helpful especially on days when I’m uncertain of what direction I want to take with my writing. I’m still combing through them and trying them all out, but recently I wrote a poem about my late brother after practicing with an exercise from Collins’ class.

"I asked you for a sign

to know you’re watching over me.

And I watched day after day,

humming bird after humming bird,

as you tried to reach me

on the other side of my window."

(Read the full poem “Humming Bird” )

Overall, Collins’ class was very helpful and added something special to my writing repertoire that I probably wouldn’t have found on my own. If you’re looking to improve your poetry skills, I highly suggest this class!

The next class I finished recently was about short story writing taught by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates is an American writer with 58 published novels and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction.

This was a really fun class and a little bit of a switch up from learning about poetry. Short story writing was something I was more into before I tried my hand at poetry. However, lately I’ve been feeling more inspired to write short fiction and this class helped guide me in the right direction to start doing that.

Honestly there’s not much I can say about this class that would differ from my review on Billy Collins’ MasterClass. In fact, I was surprised at how much the lessons overlapped! Though, I suppose I shouldn’t be that surprised; writing is writing after all. No matter what style of writing, it’s all about observing the world around us and telling stories from those observations.

One thing I really loved about Oates’ class was her encouragement of writing about taboo or dark subjects. Everyone has a side to themselves that they can’t express so it’s exciting to write or read a story about such a topic.

Similarly, to Collins’ class, I’m enjoying the workbook thoroughly as I practice my short story writing skills.

Part of a short story I started called "Oatmeal"

I found Oates’ class at the perfect time, too, because Vocal is currently running a short story challenge called the Little Black Book Challenge. I’m entering and hopeful to win the grand prize! I can’t share too much about it before I post it but, be sure to keep your eyes out for it.

Finally, the third class I’d like to discuss has nothing to do with writing; this class is all about the science behind getting better sleep!

In this class. Matthew Walker, an English scientist and professor of neuroscience and psychology, teaches about sleep: what it is, why it’s important, proven methods to get better sleep, and why society should care about getting consistent, quality sleep.

If you’ve watched any of my recent YouTube videos then you would know I’ve been dealing with sleep issues for over a year, (however, the more I think about it, the more I realize I’ve never had good sleep…) so I was thrilled to take this class!

Truthfully, a lot of the tips Walker provides are probably something you’ve heard at one point or another, but he uses hard data and evidence to support his claims about why certain practices will help you sleep better.

He goes over some specific science related to sleep, how certain substances or habits affect sleep, as well as how they can improve your sleep. For the average viewer, it might be a little difficult to digest right away. Thankfully Walker’s workbook has some extremely helpful infographics and summarizes the topics, making them easier to understand.

As someone who’s been experimenting with new sleep methods for a while, much of Walker’s discussion was a review of things I’ve already learned. But there is one concept that has been revolutionary for my sleep habits: chronotypes.

A chronotype is basically the biological explanation for a person’s sleep and habits and is divided into four categories: bear, lion, wolf, and dolphin. This class didn’t provide a quiz or questionnaire to determine my chronotype, however I was able to find a reliable online quiz to help me. Turns out, I’m most like a dolphin when I sleep! Which makes sense because they’re the insomniac chronotype… It is a relief (I guess?) to know that this is in my genetics.

Summary of the typical dolphin chronotype

In any case, I also found another website that taught me about when I should sleep and wake and what time of the day I should do certain tasks so that I can maximize my productivity and energy levels as a “dolphin”. After learning about my chronotype, I’ve slightly switched up my sleeping and waking times which has (for the most part) improved my quality of sleep.

There were a few shocking facts I learned during the class as well. First, caffeine stays in your body longer than you think which is why Walker suggests not drinking any caffeinated beverages in the late afternoon or early evening. Second, there is caffeine hidden in certain foods (like chocolate) and even in medications (like ibuprofen!). Third, melatonin isn’t strictly regulated by the government in the US and the actual concentration of melatonin in a pill varies from 80 percent less to 460 percent more than what’s on the label (insane!).

Here are the most helpful tips I found from Matthew Walker’s MasterClass:

  • Get 30 minutes of sunlight in the morning
  • Get rid of alarm clocks and let electronics charge in another room while you sleep
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine of listening to music, mediating, reading, light stretching and consistently go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
  • If you don’t fall asleep within 25-30 minutes, get out of bed and practice some relaxing activities like reading or journaling

Overall, my writing definitely feels like it’s improving and I’m learning useful skills to help me live a healthy life! I’m feeling very satisfied with my MasterClass experience so far, but we still have a long way to go so hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be a master of multiple professions… Or not, that’s okay too.

Read part one of this series.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed, then please share, leave a like or a tip, or check out some of my other writing by clicking on my profile icon. Thank you for your support, I truly appreciate it!

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Derek Evers
Derek Evers
Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Derek Evers

Inspired by creativity, fueled with kindness. An author of short stories and poems.

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