Self Guided

Write Your Memoir Month

November 1 - 26, 2021

Why should fiction writers get all the support this month? We’re claiming November as National Memoir Writing Month. Long live NaMeWriMo!

Additional Information

Patterned after our popular Thirty-Minute Memoir course, this self-guided course is designed to help you break the potentially overwhelming task of writing a memoir into manageable daily writing assignments. Each week’s lesson, revealed on Monday, will focus on a different aspect of memoir writing, from opening chapters to scenes involving dialogue. Daily writing prompts will keep you motivated and moving ahead with your project.

Each week provides:

  • DAILY 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 any writing you posted. 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: Find Your Focus

A memoir needs a focal point on which the writer can build, but many writers dive into their first draft without knowing what their focus is. During Week 1 you will identify the focus of your book (or think of ways to fine-tune that focus for an existing project). This week’s writing prompts will help you identify and hone the central idea of your memoir.

Week 2: The Shape of Your Narrative

A book-length memoir offers many possibilities for structure: should the narrative be chronological, braided, retrospective? You will explore possible shapes for your memoir, and this week's writing prompts provide opportunities to try out (or again, hone) different structures and approaches.

Week 3: Writing About People & A Sense of Place

People are the most important element of a memoir, in that a reader’s interest in all the book’s events is generally founded on his or her interest in the people who lived through those events. The setting in which your book takes place can also be an essential part of the story you want to tell; in many cases, the setting can be a character in and of itself. This week you will learn how to write about people and place in ways that readers will find engaging.

Week 4: Scene & Summary

Two of the most pivotal elements of nonfiction are scene and summary. You’'ll study the difference between summary and scene and practice using both effectively.

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

Testimonials

I enjoyed the variety of the prompts. They ranged from creative lists to structured essays and I enjoyed experimenting with each form.

Bryne Hadnott

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.