Online Course

Pathway to the Essay Form

January 10 - November 20, 2022

Level All Levels

A yearlong structured track designed to help you explore a variety of essay forms, break out of ruts and tired patterns, and spark new creative work.

Additional Information

Starts January 10
Space is limited to 14 writers


HOW IT WORKS:

This track begins with Shapes of Stories, a 10-week intermediate-level course that will help you expand your writer’s tool kit. You’ll experiment with a variety of structures—everything from straightforward, traditional presentations to offshoots of the lyric essay, such as braids, collages, or the many varieties of borrowed forms that we find in “hermit crab” essays.

Next, in the 5-week Writing the Lyric Essay: When Poetry & Nonfiction Play, you’ll focus on the lyric essay and the many possibilities of this flexible genre.

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

Finally, in Advanced Flash Essay: Freedom in Structure, you will continue to explore a range of short nonfiction forms, styles, and structures. Week by week, you’ll focus on specific elements of the craft of writing, including symbolism, voice, and structure and ways to use these elements effectively within the confines of up to 1,500 words.

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


THE COURSES:

FUNDAMENTALS :: Jan 10 – Mar 20
Shapes of Stories :: Instructor – Nancy McCabe

INTERMEDIATE :: Apr 11 – May 15
Writing the Lyric Essay: When Poetry & Nonfiction Play:: Instructor – Joanna Cooper

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

ADVANCED :: Sep 12 – Nov 20
Advanced Flash Essay: Freedom in Structure :: Instructor – Jenna McGuiggan


YOU WILL:

  • Train your writer’s eye to see several dual perspectives: literal and figurative; past and present; big and small
  • Master techniques to write engaging openings, interesting middles, and powerful endings
  • Experiment with a variety of structures and forms
  • Engage with different literary techniques such as juxtaposition, collage, attention to sound, and associative thinking
  • Try a variety of methods for revision and editing based on personal preference, creative aesthetic, thought patterns, and work habits
  • Learn how recognizing storytelling expectations can help you dig deep into the significance of your experience and shape your work to foster connections with your audience
  • Play with a number of models, diagrams, patterns, and metaphors, many of which draw from fiction and all of which offer varied and flexible approaches to thinking about story
  • Consider the ins and outs of submitting to literary magazines

YOU’LL LEARN BY:

  • 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 essays
  • Receiving feedback from fellow students and instructors

THIS IS FOR YOU IF:

  • You are ready to commit/dedicate a year to writing
  • Your writing routine has begun to feel monotonous and you’re looking for a new spark of inspiration
  • You could benefit from instructor feedback and a supportive community
  • You want to develop and practice effective writing habits
  • You are up for a challenge

What are you waiting for? Make a yearlong commitment to your craft.

Course Registration

$1,130.00

8 in stock

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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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Education FAQs

  • 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 the course levels mean?

    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).

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

    Flexibility
    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 throughout the week 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 that you can share when the class is completed. For this reason, in our classes you are invited to submit longer essays 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 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.

  • When do you offer courses? How long are they?

    Our terms include 5- and 10-week courses and run in fall (September-December), winter (January-March), and spring (April-June). In summer (July-August), we offer only 5-week courses.