Self Guided

Jump-Start Your Writing Practice Boot Camp

January 17-February 11, 2022

Level All Levels

Create a daily writing practice.

Enrollment open until February 4.

Additional Information

Do you have a personal story you want to write, but you’re not sure where to start? Do you want to start a writing practice but don’t know how to build the structure into your day?

This course will help anyone who wants to begin a project or initiate a regular writing practice in a way that is low-stress, adaptable, and effective. Here, we focus on process: how one idea, day, or freewrite can lead to something more. We also review basic elements of story, and you’ll generate plenty of new work in response to prompts. In the final week, you’ll start to consider putting ideas together into a structure—and you’ll have the tools to go back and do it all again, generating more writing and building your project or practice.

Each week provides:

  • DAILY WRITING 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

This course will help anyone who wants to begin a project or initiate a regular writing practice in a way that is low-stress, adaptable, and effective. Here, we focus on process: how one idea, day, or freewrite can lead to something more. We also review basic elements of story, and you’ll generate plenty of new work in response to prompts. In the final week, you’ll start to consider putting ideas together into a structure—and you’ll have the tools to go back and do it all again, generating more writing and building your project or practice.

Week 1: The Basics

This week you will consider the building blocks of story. You will have a chance to think about the elements of craft and about how a story is put together on a micro and macro level. You will also break down the process of writing, both cognitively and practically.

Week 2: Digging Deeper Into Character, Setting, Point of View & Voice

As you dig deeper into the building blocks of story, you will begin to develop characters and setting, consider the kinds of details you want to include, play around with point of view, and find your voice emerging. These exercises help you understand various approaches for your work and give you options for developing these key aspects of story, while also moving your story or project forward.

Week 3: Structure and What It Can Teach Us

This week you’ll look at different approaches to structure, both micro and macro. You will consider what a scene is and how to create one, how scenes can come together to make a larger essay or chapter or story, and how these larger pieces of text come together in a full narrative arc. You will have a chance to try chronological and other structures, and to consider how the structure you choose might  also can help better understand your story - where you think it begins and ends, and what you need to include in it.

Week 4: Revision And Publishing (If You Want To) Or Keeping It Going

In the final week, you will think about where you’re headed next. Do you want to potentially publish the work you’ve started work as an essay or book? Maybe you want something to share with family or friends. Or perhaps you want to work on revising your project for yourself. We will look at revision exercises you can do by yourself and with others, on both the sentence level and project level. We will also have a brief overview of publishing options and how to work toward publishing, if that is what you want. Also we’ll have tips and approaches for keeping your new writing practice going, no matter your goals.

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.

Read Success Stories


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 day and time is my online course?

    Our courses run asynchronously; meaning, you will NOT need to be online at any particular time. Assignments for CNF classes are given on a weekly basis; you should submit each assignment by a given deadline, but in most classes you will have at least an entire week to complete the assignment. We realize that our students live in many different areas and have different work schedules, so classes are designed to be flexible. Courses feature one live conference session, which does require that you be online at a particular time; however, participation in this session is completely optional, and instructors make an effort to offer times that can accommodate most students. This is scheduled by the instructor after class begins.If you are not able to participate in the live conference you will still be able to view a recording of it during the remaining weeks of the class. Please note that there are no video conferences in boot camp courses.

  • Why Creative Nonfiction?

    As the voice of the genre, Creative Nonfiction has been offering online courses on the craft of creative nonfiction since 2011. With our focus solely on the genre of narrative nonfiction, each of our courses offers quality instruction, personalized feedback from a professional writer in the field, and opportunities to network with like-minded writers. To date, we’ve helped nearly 2,500 writers tell their true stories, better—and more than 50% of our students return to take more classes. 

    At Creative Nonfiction, we believe that…

    • Your story is important, whether you’re an experienced writer or just starting out;
    • Writing is a craft, and, like all crafts, can be taught and learned; and
    • All writers benefit from feedback and a sense of connection.

  • I’m pretty busy; will a CNF course work for me?

    Creative Nonfiction’s online courses are designed to accommodate people with busy schedules and other commitments. Many students have full-time jobs or family responsibilities, while others have more free time to devote to their writing. The flexible class schedule means that you can participate in the way that best fits your schedule.

  • What makes CNF’s classes different from other online programs?


    Some online programs work on a “synchronous” model, which requires you to be online at an assigned time each week. The asynchronous model used in our classes means that you do not have to be online at any particular time of day, and can approach the class assignments at your own pace based on your schedule. While some optional events—such as class video conferences—do take place at a specific time, the majority of class activities can be completed according to your schedule.

    Intimate Classes

    Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.

    Experienced Instructors

    Good writing instructors not only need to be skilled writers, but also need to have experience in teaching what they know to others. That’s why all of our instructors are professional writers with extensive teaching experience.

    Substantial and Meaningful Writing Assignments

    Many online writing programs ask you to complete short writing exercises each week, and only near the end of the class are you invited to write a single essay or chapter. At Creative Nonfiction, we recognize the value of exercises, but also believe that completing an essay or chapter is the best way for developing writers to really explore how all the elements of creative nonfiction work together. Writing complete pieces also leaves you with a sense of accomplishment and with work you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer pieces multiple times during a course. See course syllabus for more information.

    Sense of Connection

    We realize that it is difficult to find one’s writing community—which is why we now offer every new student membership to a Community Page where you can meet with other CNF students, during and after class.

  • 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.