Pathway to the Memoir

A structured track of four online writing classes to be completed during 2021

Pathway to the Memoir

Make a yearlong commitment to your craft.

A yearlong structured track designed to help you write your memoir.

Starts January 11
Space is limited to 14 writers


You will begin this track with Thirty-Minute Memoir. This generative, boot camp course will help you tackle your memoir by providing firm deadlines, writing exercises, and weekly feedback. Along the way, you'll also develop the habit of writing regularly—and you’ll write a lot of words.

Next, in Memoir and Personal Essay, you’ll slow down a little bit to take stock. You’ll set goals for your project, plan your next steps, and keep writing.

In the summer term, you can choose a course that best fits your specific project and writing goals.

Finally, in Advanced Memoir, you will consider your project as a whole, from the first sentence to resolution.

By the end of the year, you’ll have mastered the basics, written and revised a tremendous amount of new work, and grown significantly as a writer.


FUNDAMENTALS :: Jan 11 - Mar 21 
Thirty-Minute Memoir :: Instructor Joelle Fraser
See course syllabus >

INTERMEDIATE :: Apr 12 - Jun 20
Memoir and the Personal Essay: Beyond the Basics :: Instructor - Jonathan Callard
See course syllabus >

SUMMER ELECTIVE ::  Jul 12 - Aug 15
Choose a 5-week summer course that is most relevant to your focus and goals.

ADVANCED :: Sep 13 - Nov 21
Advanced Memoir: From First Sentence to Resolution:: Instructor - Kase Johnstun
See course syllabus >


  • Master literary techniques that can help you turn bare facts and memories into a compelling story
  • Explore how to balance emotion with storytelling, and other basics of memoir writing
  • Learn how to make connections between events that happen at different times, and also to manipulate the reader's understanding of a series of events
  • Explore non-narrative components in creating an interesting piece of writing
  • Experiment with tone and voice, theme and motif
  • Recognize the difference between scene and summary and explore how to balance these two approaches
  • Learn about general structure options for both individual chapters and a book-length narrative
  • Consider how your work fits into the larger writing market, but also learn when to leave the market behind and focus exclusively on the art.


  • Interacting with other students and the broader CNF student community via the classroom, Wet Ink software, and optional video conferences
  • Discussing assigned readings and general writing topics with peers and the instructor
  • Reading and engaging with written lectures and a selection of readings
  • Writing and revising new personal essays 
  • Receiving feedback from fellow students and instructors


  • You are ready to commit/dedicate a year to writing
  • You have always wanted to write your memoir or have completed a draft and need help refining your story
  • You work well with a plan and guidance
  • You could benefit from instructor feedback and a supportive community
  • You want to develop and practice effective writing habits
  • You are up for the challenge


$1,765 $1,305 *
Jan 11 - Nov 21, 2021

Only 14 spots are available.
This year-long program takes place entirely online.
Each student receives a one-year subscription to Creative Nonfiction magazines. Aside from the optional live video conferences, there is no need to be online at any particular time of day.

* Payment plans are available. See our FAQs for more info. 

What are you waiting for? Make 2021 the year you achieve your writing goals and take your personal essay game from good to great.