Creative Nonfiction's online classes give you the opportunity to learn on a flexible schedule that fits your needs. Participants receive personal feedback from their instructors on each assignment, and all instructors are university professors and/or working professional writers. Firm deadlines and feedback help keep you writing and improving your work throughout the class.
Whether you're just starting out or are looking for an advanced class to help you refine and polish your work, we have a course for you. Class sessions begin in January, March, July, and September.
If you're looking for a learning environment that features one-on-one interactions, customized courses, and a flexible schedule, check out CNF's Mentoring Program.
Spring Classes: Now Enrolling
MARCH 31 - JUNE 9
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - Curriculum A (10-week class)
There is no prerequisite for this class; however, students who have previously taken our Advanced Memoir - Curriculum B class may now wish to enroll in this section, which has an entirely different curriculum.
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. Learn More / Enroll »
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp
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 2014 (and beyond!). After 5 weeks, if you've completed the minimum number of assignments, you'll have an essay of between 3,000 and 6,000 words, or at least a dozen passages to use as starting points for future essays. Five weeks not enough? Sign up for a full 10-weeks of Boot Camp. Not only will you get a discounted rate; you'll get double the deadlines and support. Learn More / Enroll »
Foundations of Creative Nonfiction (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. Learn More / Enroll »
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. Learn More / Enroll »
Writing the Personal Essay (10-week class)
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. Learn More / Enroll »
NEW! 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. Learn More / Enroll »
Please follow the links below for more information on upcoming and future sessions:
If your question is not answered in the Frequently Asked Questions please contact Robyn Jodlowski, Co-Director of Online Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous and/or Upcoming Classes
Advanced Memoir and Personal Essay - Curriculum B (10-week class)
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. Participants will also explore that most slippery of writing elements, theme. Writers are often exhorted to connect their personal experiences to larger themes in order to appeal to a wider reading audience—but how does one do this, and what exactly is meant by theme? Within this context the course will also cover other elements of writing—style, rhythm, diction, description, and so on. Participants will read a series of essays on related themes and explore how different writers apply distinct approaches to similar subjects, and then think about how to apply those skills to their own writing.
Creative Nonfiction Boot Camp (4-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 4-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 4 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).
Magazine Writing (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.
Magazine Writing (4-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 (12-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 (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 medical narratives and creative nonfiction—will communicate with participants through a combination of written lectures, written feedback, and email. In addition, the class will include 3 live online chats.
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.
Travel Writing (4-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.
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)
A professional book proposal for a nonfiction book is a complex project in and of itself, a combination sales pitch, book outline, manuscript, and marketing strategy. Your book proposal is your opportunity to convince an agent or editor that your book merits further consideration, and to set your work apart from everyone else's. In this class participants will learn how to write the various sections of a book proposal, and what steps to take after the class ends in order to pursue publication.
Writing the Personal Essay (4-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.
Jonathan Callard (Instructor) is working on a memoir about faith, family, and perfection, portions of which have appeared in Gulf Stream, Image, and Arts & Letters. He has written for The Dallas Morning News, The Witness, Fellowship, Explorefaith.org, and The Lion Speaks: An Anthology for Hurricane Katrina, and has been an artist-in-residence at the Ragdale Foundation and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Waverly Fitzgerald (Instructor) teaches writing in Seattle, most recently for Richard Hugo House, although she has also taught for the University of Washington and the UCLA Writers Program, among others. She has received a grant from Artist Trust, a fellowship from the Jack Straw Foundation and residencies from Hedgebrook and the Whiteley Center for her essays on urban nature. Her current writing project is the fourth in a series of humorous mystery novels written with Curt Colbert under the name of Waverly Curtis and published by Kensington Books. Her favorite writing moment of 2013: a week of camping and writing in August on the Zumwalt prairie with Scott Russell Sanders and 10 other writers as part of Fishtrap. Or maybe it was attending two book launches in one day, for writers who she coached and taught.
Jessica Handler (Instructor) is the author of Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss (St. Martins/Griffin, December 2013.) Her first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2009) is one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, Brevity, Full Grown People, The TriQuarterly Review, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and More Magazine. Honors include residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a 2010 Emerging Writer Fellowship from The Writers Center, the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship, and special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize.
Robyn Jodlowski (Co-Director of Online Education), in addition to her work at CNF, is an editor at Longform.org and a writing instructor at the University of Pittsburgh. Her work has appeared at Slate, Pacific Standard Magazine, Hot Metal Bridge and more. Find her on Twitter @RoJoOhNo.
Marty Levine (Instructor) has been a working journalist for 15 years and has published hundreds of articles in publications including Time magazine online, Salon.com, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. From 1997-2007 he served as News Editor for InPittsburgh Newsweekly and Pittsburgh City Paper, and he has received awards for his writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and National Society of Arts and Letters. He teaches English at Penn State (Greater Allegheny) and earned his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh.
Meghan O'Gieblyn (Instructor) has taught writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her MFA, and Upper Iowa University. Her work has been published most recently in Indiana Review and Guernica, and was anthologized in Longform's Best Personal Essays of 2011.
Leslie Rubinkowski (Instructor) is the author of Impersonating Elvis and teaches in Goucher College's MFA Program in Creative Nonfiction. She has also taught at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and worked for six newspapers over a twenty-year journalism career. Her essays have appeared in Harper's, River Teeth and Chautauqua.
Anjali Sachdeva (Co-Director of Online Education, Instructor) worked for five years as a journalist in the United States and the Republic of Ireland before earning her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. She teaches English and Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh, and is a regular instructor at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio. Her recent work has appeared in Sonora Review, Gulf Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011.
Erin Shaw Street (Instructor) is Senior Editor, Integrated Content at Southern Living. She manages regional Travel content, writing and editing stories that span a 17-state region. With a background in traditional and new media, she is passionate about the power of storytelling across platforms. A Florida native, she's spent 15 years in journalism and communications, including as a newspaper reporter, non-profit manager, writer, and, editor. She is the recipient of more than 20 writing awards, including the 2012 Gold Lowell Thomas Award for “What Stands In A Storm.”
Emily Stone (Instructor) has taught at the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction, and Sun Yat-sen University in southern China, where she helped create a new creative writing curriculum and still serves as an affiliated external faculty member. Her work has been published by journals including Agni, Fourth Genre, and Tin House, and has twice been listed among the notable selections of the year in the Best American Travel Writing anthologies. A native New Yorker, she has lived in Latin America, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Ned Stuckey-French (Instructor) is the author of The American Essay in the American Century (Missouri, 2011), which will be out in paperback in September 2013. He is co-editor of Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time, co-author of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, book review editor of Fourth Genre, and an associate professor of English at Florida State University. His essays have appeared in magazines such as In These Times, The Missouri Review, The Normal School, Tri-Quarterly, Walking Magazine, culturefront, Pinch, Guernica, and middlebrow and been listed four times among the notable essays of the year in Best American Essays.
Barrett Swanson (Instructor) teaches Writing at Upper Iowa University and Edgewood College, and earned his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His work has been published in, among other places, The Millions, The Isthmus, Kirkus Reviews, Avery Anthology, and he is a recipient of the Jerome Sterns Teaching Award at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.