Self Guided

Finding Your Voice(s)

March 7 - April 1; Enrollment is OPEN through March 25th

Level All Levels

A key concern for writers is often “finding your voice”—a concern that is somewhat misdirected.

 

 

Additional Information

Writers, like all people, use more than one voice: we adjust our tone for different situations, borrow rhythms and patterns and phrases from each other, and retool them for different purposes. Rather than settle on a singular voice, we should consider how employing a constantly evolving set of voices is an opportunity to explore what more we can say.

This will be our element of play—and our challenge—in this course. The writers we will read are all engaged with voices as a way to arrive at deeper meaning. We’ll ask: What do these different voices bring to each essay? How can voice help us deal with difficult issues, both as readers and as writers? How does voice relate back to how we see the narrator of the essay?

On the micro level, we’ll pay close attention to what makes one voice different from another, focusing on the patterns of sentences, specific and telling word choice, and what each voice is comfortable revealing. More broadly, we’ll think about how these tonal shifts affect the way we express ideas, make arguments, and expose larger truths.

Each week provides:

  • WEEKLY PROMPTS to help you generate new writing
  • INSPIRATION in the form of written lectures and selected readings

After the course closes, you will receive a zip file containing all of the course content and the work you developed during the month. You’ll also continue to be a member of our Creative Nonfiction Writing Classes’ Community Page where you can share writings and calls for submissions, recommend books, and stay connected with other writers.

Course Schedule

Week 1: Voice As Form

In our first week, we’ll look at writing that moves between two very distinct voices. We’ll look closely at the language: where are the boundaries of these voices, and why does the writer use each? You, too, will practice this move, leaning into a discrepancy between two voices and using it to serve your content.

Week 2: Trying ON Voices

This week, we’ll play with trying on someone else’s voice. We’ll look at writers who slip into the voice of their character in one way or another, and ask questions about what is lost and gained in this approach. As an exercise in voice, you’ll compose something in a similar vein, borrowing language from someone else and blending it with your own.

WEEK 3: VOICE AND PSYCHE

In week 3, we’ll  look at how different voices interplay within a single writer. Writers often move between different voices that represent parts of their own psyche, blending them together to express ideas or experiences that are particularly trying. You’ll work now in this vein—finding different voices not from without, but rather parsing the voices you already have within.

Week 4: The TExtures of Meaning

For week 4, you’ll bring together the different skills you’ve been practicing throughout the course in a final exercise. You may draw from the voices of the people you’re writing about, phantom public voices, voices from other forms or texts, or voices within yourself. You should, however, go beyond quoting. In some way, these voices should be embodied by you, the writer, or embody the issues you’re considering.

View Complete Syllabus

Course Registration

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Please Note

It is not uncommon for classes to fill up before the end of early registration, particularly in the last few days before the deadline. If you know for certain that you wish to take a particular class, we recommend registering early. If you'd like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our director of education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected].

Hear from our Students

Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.

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Testimonials

I enjoyed reading other peoples work and getting feedback about my own work– the handouts/video links and class lessons were also very informative and relevantly paced to the give structural guidelines.

Catherine O’Neill

Self Guided FAQs

  • What are your community standards?

    Creative Nonfiction is committed to creating a welcoming and comfortable experience for all staff and participants regardless of gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disabilities, neurodiversity, physical appearance, ethnicity, nationality, race, age, or religion.

    We expect that staff and participants will treat each other with respect in all interactions. We will not tolerate discrimination or harrassment in conjunction with any of our programs. Harassment could include but is not limited to:

    • Repeated disruption of classes, lectures or discussion
    • Deliberate intimidation
    • Unwelcome sexual attention
    • Comments or displayed images that harmfully reinforce structures of oppression

    Community posts violating any of these guidelines can and will be removed from the page at any time. Anyone asked to stop harassing behavior is expected to comply immediately.

    Harassment does not include respectful disagreement or critique in good faith. Reading and writing, by their nature, include exposure to controversial, challenging, and sometimes offensive language. We encourage all participants to follow the peer review guidelines provided by their instructor.

    When you join a course you agree to…

    • respect others and respect their writing;
    • maintain the privacy of all submitted work;
    • treat others with respect;
    • not infringe on anyone’s copyright;
    • not harass, abuse, threaten or impersonate another user; and
    • not use libelous, obscene, or abusive work.


    Online Communication Guide

    Online communication happens without the benefit of body language and tone. Therefore, it can be easy to misinterpret. The following tips may help participants engage in civil, intelligent, vigorous discourse without impugning the personal dignity of others:

    1. Start from a position of generosity (i.e. assume that people mean well)
    2. Address your post to someone or to the group. Instead of “Hey” or just jumping in to your post, try “Hi All” or “Hi [Name].”
    3.  Don’t be afraid to use emoticons and/or exclamation points! 🙂
    4. Please avoid ALL CAPS whenever possible, as they tend to come off as RUDE or YELLING.
    5. Avoid harsh or offensive language of any kind. If you’re in doubt, try rewording or reconsidering your post.
    6. Sarcasm is very difficult to convey in writing — best to avoid it.
    7. When interacting with your peers, please consider that some may have limited experience with English, online education, and/or creative writing. It’s a good rule of thumb not to write anything you wouldn’t say if that person were standing in front of you.
    8. Often writers from underrepresented groups are asked to explain everything for an assumed monolithic audience (often cis/white/hetero/masculine/able-bodied, etc. etc.). As you respond to peers’ work, keep in mind that you may not be the writer’s intended audience, and leave room for the possibility that the writer is writing for a group of which you are not a member. (For more on this, listen to this episode of Code Switch for an in depth conversation.)

    See your course for additional feedback guidelines provided by your instructor.

  • What’s the difference between Self-guided and Online Courses?



    Online courses are 5- and 10-week courses that offer firm deadlines, a flexible schedule that fits your needs, and instructor feedback to help you keep writing and improving your work. Terms start quarterly, and sections are capped at 14 students to help foster community and connection. 

    Self-guided classes are 4-week courses and differ from our other online courses in significant ways. There are no due dates, no cap on enrollment, and no instructor feedback will be provided. However, you can post questions for your peers and give and receive feedback on writing posted in the classroom.

     

  • How do I find my course archive?

    All course work is saved in Wet.Ink. When the course closes, you can find the archive by logging in to your account, and choosing “Past Classes.” Archives include course content (lectures, readings, writing prompts, etc.), your posts and writing submissions, and any feedback given on your writing. The course archive will not include your classmates’ writing submissions.

  • What do you mean by “self-guided”?

    Self-guided classes differ from our other online courses in significant ways. There are no due dates, no cap on enrollment, and no instructor feedback will be provided. However, you can post questions for your peers and give and receive feedback on writing posted in the classroom.

  • How do I find my self-guided class materials?

    After you register for a self-guided course, we manually process your information and invite you to join an online classroom where you will find the course materials. The course invite will come to your email account (please check your spam/junk folder).

    Please note: if you register before the start date, you’ll receive an invite to join your class the Friday before class begins. If you register after class begins, we’ll send you a course invite within 72 hours, and you will then have access to the previous weeks’ materials.