Creative Nonfiction Class: Writing the Personal Essay

In this four-week creative nonfiction class we will brainstorm ideas for personal essays and learn how to tell compelling true stories.

Creative Nonfiction Class: Writing the personal essay. supportive and inspirational! Helpful feedback! LGBTQ+ friendly! Video lessons! Weekly community hour! Write more!

Dates: 4 weeks: next session TBD

Time: You can log on any time to work with the course materials.

Optional: join the weekly community call on Thursdays @ 2pm Eastern/11am Pacific/6pm GMT.

New material is released and the brief weekly assignments are due each Tuesday.

Location: Online

Price: $100 early-bird / $120

Class size: Limit 15 students

Video Transcript

What is the format of the class?

This creative nonfiction class features written and video materials, essays to read, weekly short assignments with instructor feedback, and optional live office hours.

This is an LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent friendly space that supports and uplifts the voices of Black and Indigenous writers and writers of color. Speaking about people’s identities with respect is required.

What will students take away from this class?

Students will take away from this class a greater understanding of how to tell a creative story with a narrative arc, incorporating emotion and sensory details. They will consider placing their story within a broader cultural context with the goal of pitching an editor.

The weekly reading assignments were all terrific. I found them all to be interesting, insightful and helpful inspiration for my own work. I often shared the essays with friends. Rey’s feedback was always very supportive and helpful. Wish it was a longer course! I enjoyed it that much.

-Matt, former student in this class

How to enroll

Send $100 through PayPal to rey@reykatz.com OR Venmo to @reykatz (last 4 digits of phone number are 9662).

Please include in your payment description the email address I may contact you at. I will be in touch within 1 day to welcome you to the class and provide further details!

Instructor:

Portrait of Rey, a light skinned, dark haired nonbinary person

Rey Katz is a queer, nonbinary writer with essays in POPSUGAR, Catapult, BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog, and other publications. They write weekly essays for their Substack, Amplify Respect, and blog at nonbinaryconnection.com. They earned a BS in Physics from MIT and a black belt in Kokikai Aikido.

“Rey is a delight!”

“Helping me to grow in my understanding as well as enjoyment”

Syllabus:

Week 1: Everyone has stories

Introductions. Discussing what we should and shouldn’t publish. Brainstorming exercises for essay ideas.

Week 2: Turning point

Writing the turning point scene is the secret to giving your essay a narrative arc.

Week 3: How did you feel?

We discuss my favorite question when giving feedback and how to answer it. Readers love to vicariously feel emotions while reading essays, so we learn to share our own.

Week 4: Your story in a larger context

Many publications don’t just want to hear your story—they want to hear how your story can inform us about the world we all live in. Learn to incorporate research with your lived experiences.

FAQ:

Who is this creative nonfiction class for?

This class is for beginner to intermediate writers who are interested in building a skillset for writing great personal essays and generating ideas for what to write about.

Each week has a writing exercise that can be fairly short and is not a whole essay. These assignments could easily be incorporated into an essay. But this class doesn’t include feedback on a whole essay draft.

How much of a time commitment is this?

I estimate it may take half an hour to an hour per week to read the class materials and recommended personal essays. The writing exercise may take roughly an hour, but it’s up to you how much or how little time you would like to spend on it. If you join the live discussion/office hour, that would be an hour. So overall, 2-3 hours per week.

Is this class for me if I write fiction, poetry, or technical papers?

Nope. This is specifically for writers interested in creative nonfiction and telling their own personal stories.

What platform is the course on?

The course materials are on a private space in Google Classroom. The live calls will be on Google Meet. You will need a (free) Gmail or Google Workspace account to access the course materials and join the calls.

Is this a real class?

Yes!! I am actually a real person (I think). I know we don’t know each other yet, but I have put a lot of thought and effort into the class materials and will be engaged in discussion and providing caring and thoughtful feedback.

What is your refund policy?

I can offer a full refund if you change your mind until 1 week before the class starts. I can offer a 50% refund through the first week of the class. After that, no refunds.

What if I can’t make the live class meetings?

The live online meetings are intended as office hours or casual discussion of the week’s readings. If you can’t make one or all the times, no worries. I’m not going to record and share the meetings because they will be an informal discussion.

How accessible is this class?

The videos have visible captions, and I’ve also compiled the captions into a doc for each video as the transcript. The weekly readings are text in Google Classroom and links to magazines and publications.

The live video calls will be in Google Meet. Each participant may turn on auto-captions if they would like (visible only to you). There is no requirement to turn on your video for the call (although, I will ask that you briefly introduce yourself either by speaking or typing in the chat)

If you have an accessibility request, I am open to suggestions.

I have a question or concern or just want to reach out before I enroll

No problem! Send me an email at rey at reykatz dot com.

What is the best part about this creative nonfiction class?

I’m really excited about a lot of the material in this class. I think the exercises are going to generate a lot of creativity and fantastic content, without being too much work. I am looking forward to the live office hour discussions and discussing the great personal essays I’ve linked each week.

I hope you join us—it’s going to be a good time!

How to enroll

Send $100 through PayPal to rey@reykatz.com OR Venmo to @reykatz (last 4 digits of phone number are 9662).

Please include in your payment description the email address I may contact you at. I will be in touch within 1 day to welcome you to the class and provide further details!