Self Guided

Play with Pattern: Crafting the Braided and Collage Essays

July 26- August 20

Often, experimenting with a new form is the best way to get unstuck and gain a fresh perspective on your writing.

Course starts July 26; enrollment is open until August 13th

Additional Information

Perhaps you’re wondering how to become more experimental or looser in your writing, or you may be at an impasse with material you’ve been working with. In this generative course, we will examine the creative potential of juxtaposing themes through collage or a braided technique. Using writing prompts, readings, and discussion questions, you will explore how to breathe life into a subject through weaving of material and use of space. This class will provide tips and practice in using these forms as a way to make your writing fresh and engaging, both for your reader and for yourself.

This course will offer new approaches for students at all levels—from those looking for inspiration to those working through an ongoing project.

Each week provides:

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

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

 

Course Schedule

Week 1 - Space and Juxtaposition

In this first week, you will examine models of collage essays, thinking about how they ask the reader to participate in the construction of meaning. What does this look like from the writer’s side?  Through directed prompts, you will investigate how collage can be a tool of creative investigation.

Week 2 - Creating Resonance in Collage Pieces

You will further explore collage, pacing, and revision. How can collaged pieces draw a reader along?  What is that engine?  You will look for repetitions (of motifs/images/language) in pieces by others and analyze how that is working in your own responses to writing exercises.

Week 3 - Braided Pieces and How the Weaving Works

This week will address models of braided pieces and how they work. You’ll look at your own interests and begin mining your life for threads of language or subject matter, unlocking their creative potential.

Week 4 - Following the Threads

You will build on your thinking about collage and braiding, investigating how these techniques can enliven old drafts or help you find your way into new work. Whether or not the final piece is strictly in the form of collage or braided essay, how can you bring these techniques into your writing practice? End the course with a better understanding of how loose connections,  juxtapositions, and the joining of disparate ideas are central to the creative life.

View Complete Syllabus

Course Registration

$29.99

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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

Testimonials

The lessons were well-organized and very useful, backed up by worthwhile additional readings. The class challenged me to write in ways I had not done before.

Kathy Haaga

Education FAQs

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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.