Self Guided

Writing Beyond the Known: Exploring the Possible through Speculative Nonfiction

April 18 - May 13; Enrollment is OPEN through May 6th

Learn to use a variety of techniques to map the territories of inner worlds and the possibilities of the world we share.

Additional Information

In this course, you will celebrate the elastic quality of the essay form. You will explore how metaphor, speculation, and imaginative play can enliven your writing, help you examine your values, fascinations, imaginings, and capture the slippery quality of the individual writer’s passage through time and the sometimes surreal quality of existence.  Students will experiment with techniques such as unexpected figurative language; associative memory; leaps across time; combining genres and mediums; and the writing of daydreams, fantasies, dreams, and imaginings. As we proceed, our interest will be not in misrepresenting the true events of the past, but in using a variety of techniques to map the territories of inner worlds and the possibilities of the world we share.

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 - GROUNDING YOURSELF TO THINK BEYOND

Investigate how to use the present as a jumping-off point into examining your values, fears, and ideals. Readings and writing exercises will guide you in thinking about how you might move from the concrete to the abstract in a piece of writing— for example, from the sensory realities of the now to imagined futures, or from the details of the actual to what is possible.

WEEK 2 - Beyond Genre, Beyond the Familiar

Get your creativity flowing by experimenting with genre boundaries and unconventional forms, such as letters, diaries, dream journals, commonplace books, collages, and graphic memoir.  This week, we’ll think about how these approaches can help you access new angles on the material of your life, world, and mind. We will also explore ways to “estrange the familiar” in order to give personal narratives new, compelling power (both for yourself and for the reader).

WEEK 3 - Nonfiction and Imagined Worlds

Examine work by writers exploring the utopian and dystopian possibilities of the past, present, and future. You’ll also begin examining your own hopes and values and speculating about the world you want to see in your lifetime. This week will be a time to explore how writing can sustain our values and keep alive individual and communal ideals.

WEEK 4 - The “Beyond” of Myths, Tales, and the Subconscious

Set out into your own dreams, imaginings, and speculations. You’ll be invited to use dreams as seeds of writing; to delve into the subconscious with creative meditation techniques; and to craft your own narratives in relation to pre-existing cultural material such as fairy tales and myths.

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

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 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.

  • 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 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.

  • How do I find my self-guided class materials?

    After you register for a self-guided course, we manually process your information and invite you to join an online classroom where you will find the course materials. The course invite will come to your email account (please check your spam/junk folder).

    Please note: if you register before the start date, you’ll receive an invite to join your class the Friday before class begins. If you register after class begins, we’ll send you a course invite within 72 hours, and you will then have access to the previous weeks’ materials.