We have a course that's right for you, no matter your skill level or writing goal, and we're always adding more options! And, unlike other online programs, our courses are small—between 6 and 14 students per section—so you'll get individualized attention and feedback on your work.
Our 10-week classes run in fall (September-December), winter (January-March), and spring (March-May). Summer classes are five weeks long (July-August) and a great choice for students, travelers, or those wanting a short peek at our longer sessions.
Details are included in the class descriptions; descriptions of our current classes can be found here.
Complete Class List
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - Curriculum A & B (10-week classes)
This class is designed for those who have already explored the basics of personal writing and wish to move on to a larger project or more challenging forms. Participants can choose one of two paths, working either on sections of a memoir or on personal essays in a variety of styles. Class members will learn how to structure their chapters or essays, how to incorporate research into personal writing, how to develop character, how to use descriptive language effectively, and more. We will examine personal essays and memoir chapters from published authors to analyze their writing techniques, and discuss ways to use those techniques in our own writing. If participants wish to submit work that does not strictly fit the assignments given they can arrange to do so with the instructor.
The Art of the Pitch (5-week class)
Every magazine article begins with a pitch. (Also, every opinion column, every 300-word blog post, every New York Post lifestyle feature, every long or short essay in a literary or academic publication). The pitch sells your idea to editors who can a) give you your first byline and b) are receiving pitch emails by the minute. This course explores the magazine world’s version of Hollywood’s “elevator pitch”—the email that can launch your article writing career. By the end of the course, students will have developed an idea from an inkling into at least one sparkling pitch email that editors will just not be able to ignore.
Audio Storytelling and Podcasting (10-week class)
Podcasting is an increasingly popular way to use sound to tell stories, enriching personal and professional communication, and in this class we’ll explore ways to create nonfiction narratives using the power of sound. The class is designed with the flexibility to allow those who have never edited sound to learn the basics and create a podcast, as well as for those somewhat familiar with sound or audio storytelling to develop a layered creative project. The beauty of podcasting lies in its flexibility and unlimited potential for creativity. Each member of the class will produce a 5-minute audio podcast that can range from a lesson for a science class to an interview with an expert to audio postcards sent to family and friends around the globe.
Blogging for the Writer (10-week class)
These days, it's not unusual for writers to have a blog. This can be a terrific forum for writers to talk about issues that are important to them. Yet, if handled poorly, a blog could be just another voice in the vast internet sea. How do you get readership for your blog? How do you make your blog pieces distinct and resonant? In this multi-week workshop, we will discuss "best practices" for successful blogging. We will look at examples of outstanding blog posts in order to understand why certain pieces resonate with readers, as well as pieces that don't quite hit the mark in order to understand what's missing. The basics of marketing and driving internet traffic to one's blog will also be covered. Students can expect weekly writing prompts which will be workshopped. You will come away with a deeper understanding of why blogging is fun and how to blog successfully
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (5-week class)
You want to do it. You mean to do it. You’re going to do it, really…a bit later. It’s the summer, after all, and you’ve got the time. But somehow that writing you’ve been meaning to get around to just never seems to happen. Creative Nonfiction’s summer boot camp is a 5-week course to ensure that you will get around to that summer writing, by providing firm deadlines, writing exercises, and weekly feedback. Along the way you’ll also develop the habit of writing regularly, which will serve you well all year long. At the end of 5 weeks, if you’ve completed the minimum number of assignments, you’ll have an essay of between 3,600 and 6,000 words, or at least a dozen passages to use as starting points for future essays (or some combination of the two).
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (10-week class)
You want to do it. You mean to start that writing project ... eventually. Now is the time to put excuses aside and start your writing project. Creative Nonfiction's special boot camp sessions will do just that by providing firm deadlines, writing exercises, and weekly feedback. Along the way you'll also develop the habit of writing regularly which will serve you well all through the year (and beyond!). Beginning with the same curriculum as our 5-week course, but with double the writing prompts and more opportunities for feedback.
Digital Storytelling (5-week class)
Are you a beginner to the world of digital storytelling? Would you like to explore the possibilities of using multimedia in your storytelling? Through a combination of reading, viewing, and playing multimedia stories and hands-on practice capturing and editing your own image, audio, and video stories, in this class you will learn how to create digital narratives.You will find a way to use digital communication technologies to enhance, rather than detract from, the inherent connective power of creative nonfiction.
Eureka! Science Writing For General Audiences (5-week class)
In this class, we’ll take a close look at the writing and research skills needed to craft engaging nonfiction about scientific discovery, research, and policy, and practice them over the course of five weeks. We’ll discuss how literary elements such as scene, character development, and narrative can bring scientific topics alive for general readers, as well as how to document research and interviews to prepare for the fact-checking process.
Experimental Forms (5-week class)
What are the limits of creative nonfiction? At what point does an essay leave the world of fact and enter the realm of fiction or poetry? Are the borders between these genres rigid and unyielding, or are they porous? How can a writer move seamlessly between them during the course of a single essay in order to communicate more effectively the complexity of his or her experience? In this class, we will explore a variety of strategies for innovation in nonfiction writing. We’ll study new exhilarating developments in the genre, encountering the work of many contemporary practitioners of the craft, and discuss which subjects lend themselves to these cutting-edge techniques. Participants will learn about experimental structures, hybrid forms, and nonstandard narrative perspectives. Class members will write two short 500 word vignettes and one 3,000 word essay.
Flash Essay (5-week class)
Some experiences beg us to write about them, but we often feel overwhelmed when trying to capture the whole story at once. In this class, we'll explore the art of flash nonfiction and short essays—pieces that tell a complete story in no more than 750 words. Life is comprised of moments—big, showy ones as well as small, quiet ones—many of them infused with deeper meaning. Sometimes we can easily articulate a moment’s meaning, but often we can only make sense of it peripherally. In a flash essay, both the moment and the meaning must be distilled to their purest essence. Through a series of writing exercises, participants will generate a list of potential essay ideas and identify key details and imagery to help them dig into the heart of those stories. Students will also write up to five flash pieces of varying lengths.
Food Writing (5-week class)
We live in a foodie moment. Cookbooks are our bedtime reading and narrative nonfiction books on food politics are best sellers. We've become exponentially more knowledgeable about where our food comes from, how it's produced, and how it should taste than we were ten years ago. We've also gotten to be very good at sharing our opinions (and our photos) about what we eat on the internet. There are more and more ways to be a food writer, even a professional food writer, though making a living at it is getting harder and harder. Together we’ll explore these options and obstacles. Students will try out weekly exercises and design their own final projects of up to 3500 words.
Foundations of Creative Nonfiction - Curriculum A (10-week class)
This ten-week online class will introduce writers to the fundamentals of creative nonfiction, exploring both the techniques used to gather information and the literary skills needed to turn bare facts into personal and compelling essays. Participants will learn the basics of interviewing, immersion, research, and other reporting skills, will write three different types of essays, and will receive feedback on their work from the instructor and from each other.
Foundations of Creative Nonfiction - Curriculum B (10-week class)
Creative Nonfiction is a versatile genre that accommodates a vast array of styles and approaches. This course is designed to introduce students to the many sub-genres of creative nonfiction and the possibilities of the form. Students will have the opportunity to try their hand at different types of essays, including memoir, the profile essay, participatory journalism, and the immersion essay, among others. In the weekly lectures and discussions, we will talk about basic craft issues and discuss other writerly skill sets, such as performing research and conducting interviews. Readings will include classics from each genre of creative nonfiction, as well as more recently published work. Students will write three 3,500 essays and participate in three optional writing assignments.
Historical Narratives (5-week class)
Have you ever been fascinated by a true historical story? The tools of creative nonfiction are exactly right for turning historical finds into vivid characters and scenes. Even when you can’t interview your characters or directly observe them in action, you can still write great nonfiction narratives from the rich materials of history. Whether you’re just beginning or deep into researching a piece (especially if you're feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material you could use), this class will show you how to bring the past alive.
I to Eye: Integrating Research into the Personal Essay (5-week class)
Have you wanted to take your essays beyond the personal? Perhaps integrate a researched or reported element or break into a new media publication? In “I to Eye” we explore the in-between of journalism and essay writing – sometimes called "personal journalism," or personal narrative woven with research or other reporting. Over this five-week course we will look at examples in the media and practice writing in variations of this form, finishing with a brief overview of how to pitch this genre. Whether you have an idea for integrating research into a finished essay or want an introduction to the possibilities of personal journalism, this course will provide options for approaching your piece and guide you to toward a first and revised draft.
Narrative Journalism (10-week class)
In this class students will immerse themselves entirely in the genre of narrative journalism, in which the writer observes, participates, interviews, and otherwise intimately explores his or her subject. Over the course of 10 weeks, we will take an in-depth look at the history and craft of this style of nonfiction writing that was revolutionized over four decades ago by trailblazers such as Gay Talese, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe. Students will learn important fly-on-the wall techniques such as sharp observation, skillful note taking, laidback interviewing, and how to organize and structure immersion stories. Students may choose to write three immersion articles or just one longer piece. Additional course work includes weekly readings, discussion forums, and optional writing exercises. Participants will also receive feedback from both the instructor and other class participants.
Narrative Journalism (5-week class)
In this class participants will explore magazine writing (also known as immersion writing or narrative journalism), in which the writer observes, participates in, researches, and otherwise intimately explores his or her subject. Narrative journalists practice what author Gay Talese has called “the art of hanging out,” becoming a part of the stories they write and exploring the world around them with a writer’s eyes to create the kinds of profiles and investigative pieces you see in magazines like Esquire, The New Yorker, Harper’s, or The Atlantic. Participants will choose a topic to investigate in-depth, and will explore this topic by writing two short pieces and one essay of up to 4,000 words.
Narrative Medicine (10-week class)
This class will guide all types of medical professionals (doctors, nurses, researchers, aides, social workers, etc.) through the various skills needed to write and publish narratives—personal stories of their experiences in health care (and those of others in the field). We will cover every step in the writing process, from brainstorming to researching to writing to revising, as well as the steps needed to pitch and publish an article or essay. Our instructors—experienced writers of health care narratives and creative nonfiction—will communicate with participants through a combination of written lectures, written feedback, and email. In addition, the class will include phone conferences with guest lecturers Theresa Brown and Manoj Jain.
Revision Workshop (10-week class)
First drafts are fun to write, but great writers know that it's in revision that a piece of writing truly takes shape. This 4-week workshop will guide participants through the steps of effective micro- and macro-revision and the peer review process, and will conclude with advice on how to submit work for publication to newspapers, literary magazines, and other publishers. Participants will submit one essay of up to 4,000 words for feedback from both their instructor and their fellow students, and will then revise and will share passages of revised work for class comment.
Selling Your Work: A Writer's Guide (10-week class)
You’ve enjoyed reading great essays in Esquire, The New Yorker, and of course Creative Nonfiction, but by some counts there are also more than 1,000 “little magazines” out there waiting for the next Best American Essays writers to look in their direction. But how do you break in? This class introduces creative nonfiction writers to the culture of literary periodicals, writing fellowships, and publishing. Through weekly assignments and lectures, you’ll learn how to assemble a literary writer’s toolkit and navigate the world of small-press and online publishing. You’ll also learn about the fellowship opportunities available for emerging writers looking for time and funding to support their writing, and get an introduction to the basics of large-press publishing. Just as importantly, you’ll get out there and begin submitting your work.
Spiritual Writing (5- or 10-week classes)
In this class we will read selections from essays and memoir in the spiritual writing genre and try composing our own versions of this material. We will ask, what, if anything, can make nonfiction writing “spiritual”? How do we write about something so personal and powerful and share it with an audience of differing beliefs or traditions? How can we move beyond the saccharine to illuminate a truth? Participants will choose a spiritual question or subject to explore in-depth, and will investigate this topic by writing two 500-word pieces and one article/essay of up to 4,000 words. We will focus on getting started, gathering material, and revising for publication. Writers from all backgrounds and faiths are welcome.
The Thirty-Minute Memoir (10-week class)
Patterned after our popular Boot Camp course, this class is designed to help break the potentially overwhelming task of writing a memoir into manageable daily writing. Each week will focus on a different aspect of memoir writing, from opening chapters to scenes involving dialogue. Every weekday participants will be encouraged to post 300 words of new writing, and at the end of the week they will choose 1,000 words from the week’s work to submit to their instructor for comment. You must post at least three times per week in order to receive feedback from the instructor for that week—ensuring that you’re motivated to stay on task. By writing for 30 minutes a day (or longer, if you choose), you’ll finish the class with 60 pages of a memoir draft, and receive invaluable feedback and support along the way.
Travel Writing (5-week class)
This class is all about exploring the world around you—whether that’s through a trip to Marrakesh or by investigating the hidden gems of your own town. We’ll think about ways writers investigate new territory through art, adventure, conversation, culture, and food. Participants will learn techniques to observe in detail, record their experiences, and turn those experiences into essays that will be of interest to a wide readership. Class members will write two short pieces and one essay. With guest lecture and live video chat from National Geographic writer Virginia Morell.
Up Close: How To Interview (5-week class)
This five-week online class will inspire you to take a fresh look at your writing and practice one of the most powerful elements of creative nonfiction – the in-person interview. Today, writers can access rivers of information on the Internet, but the ease of finding details can create a false sense that one can simply write without ever having to meet anyone for a conversation. Interviews can add layered depth to your writing. We’ll review examples of types of interviews and how they can enliven your essays, memoirs, books, op ed pieces, theater reviews, or book reviews.
Weekly Workshop (10-week class)
Exchanging work with other writers can be a great source of motivation and a way to find new approaches to your writing. In this course we bring the workshop model of critique—the centerpiece of most MFA programs across the country—to an online class. Participants meet once a week to discuss the work of two class members, in a conversation guided by the instructor. Rather than simply expressing their likes or dislikes, group members will participate in in-depth discussion of literary techniques and writing strategies as they apply to the work at hand. All class members will have 2 opportunities to submit work during the course. Our workshops are conducted using Google Hangouts video chat, and allow participants to engage in a face-to-face writing community online.
Writing the Nonfiction Book Proposal (10-week class)
If you have an idea for a creative nonfiction book, and want to find a publisher, this class if designed for you. Writing a book proposal is an art itself. This class covers all aspects of creating a book proposal, providing a format to help you showcase your writing and expertise. Assignments will help you clarify your idea, research the market, identify your audience, develop your credentials as an author, create an engaging overview and choose the best sample chapters for submission to publishers.
Writing the Personal Essay - Curriculum A & B (10-week classes)
In this class we’ll take a close look at the writing and research skills needed to write a memoir or personal essay, and refine them over the course of 10 weeks. We’ll discuss how to best use essential literary elements such as detail, dialogue, structure, and description, as well as how to collect information through interviews, research, and other methods. Participants will complete three essays, and will also be given optional shorter exercises that can later be developed into longer works. There will be substantial time spent on revision, that magical process that takes a pleasant anecdote and turns it into a breathtaking essay. Participants will receive personal feedback on their work from the instructor and feedback from other class members via Group Review sessions.
Writing the Personal Essay (5-week class)
Writing allows us to share the defining moments of our lives, and what we have learned from them, with a larger audience. In this class we will explore the personal essay, considering the balance between truth and subjectivity, how to turn personal stories into compelling reading, and how to effectively convey emotion through writing. Participants will write two short pieces and one essay.
Writing the Tough Stuff (10-week class)
Everyone experiences personal difficulty at some point in their lives. As writers, we often find that we want to write about loss, grief, or trauma in order to both understand how our personal narrative has changed us, and to relate our changed self to the world. The course will present strategies for strong creative nonfiction writing about these subjects, and discuss cross-disciplinary research in creating trauma narratives. Each week will include a written lecture, specific reading recommendations tied to the lecture, and a writing assignment.