April 11 - May 15, 2022
It can be difficult to find literary communities where writing about motherhood is taken seriously as art. Even in positive reviews of motherhood memoirs, reviewers often find it necessary to first bash the genre as a whole. But like all great writing, motherhood literature is, as Patricia Hampl says about memoir, “an attempt to find not only a self but a world.”
In this class you will have the opportunity to explore motherhood and your role as a mother in a challenging and nurturing environment. Whether you are a new mom or a veteran, whether you gave birth to or adopted your child, in this class you’ll learn how to take motherhood stories and turn them into art.
In this first week of class, we’ll begin to get to know each other and dive into motherhood writing with a discussion of the importance of sensory details and grounding our writing in the concrete world. We’ll also discuss motherhood models and begin to think about both the cultural narratives of motherhood and our own opinions about what it means to be a “good mother.” You’ll read examples from writers exploring their own mothers in writing.
You want your readers to feel a connection to the characters in your writing, and in order to make that happen, you need to write them in enough detail so readers really know them. One of the wonderful things about writing about our children is that we, as writers, get to decide how the reader first “sees” them. What do you want readers to notice first about your child? How do you get readers invested in your children as characters? This week, you will learn how to flesh out yourself and your children as three-dimensional characters on the page and we will read examples from writers whose children come to life on the page.
In order to be able to engage with our pasts in our writing, we need to be able to reflect. Much of the story in creative nonfiction is not apparent on the surface; it happens in our heads as we reflect, wonder, and try to make sense of our experiences. Reflection adds depth to our writing—it’s the thing that helps us move from the situation, as Vivian Gornick says, to the real story. This week, you will explore the ways that voice and reflection are connected and experiment with both your in-the-moment voice and reflective voice. We will also look at strategies for grounding reflection in scene and how to get to the heart of your story.
Your experiences as parents range from light and funny to heartbreaking, and there is room for all of those experiences in literature and as a part of this class. This week we will read pieces by writers who have grappled with the hard parts of motherhood and explore strategies for crafting those difficult stories and creating emotional distance for both writer and reader
This final week you will explore different kinds of structures that might serve your stories. We will look at collage and sectioned pieces in addition discussing the ways chronology can serve us as writers. We will also discuss how to keep the momentum going and where you can submit your motherhood essays.
Out of stock
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].
Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.
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
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.
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.
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.
Classes are small—limited to 14 students per section—which means you’ll receive individual attention and feedback on your work.
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.
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:
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.
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:
See your course for additional feedback guidelines provided by your instructor.
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.
FUNDAMENTALS—open to all levels.Our fundamentals courses are designed for those who are new to writing or new to creative nonfiction, as well as those who could benefit from a back-to-basics review on how to effectively and intentionally use elements of the writer’s craft.
INTERMEDIATE—prerequisites suggested. Our intermediate courses are designed for writers who have some experience either in the genre or CNF’s courses. Past course participation is not required, but we do recommend starting with one of our fundamentals courses, especially Foundations of Creative Nonfiction.
ADVANCED—prerequisites for enrollment. Our advanced courses are for writers who have completed two previous online courses (not including self-guided courses) with Creative Nonfiction (one must be an intermediate level course).
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