Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

4-Week Generative Online Nonfiction Seminar: Shake It Loose

This generative course is designed for writers of all experience levels. Perhaps you've been working a long time on a memoir manuscript and are stuck in a slump. Maybe you have a nascent idea for a collection of essays but you're not sure where to start. Or you might be a writer in a different genre looking to dabble in nonfiction. Wherever you may be in your writing journey, this is a course designed to shake the stagnant loose, to focus on the possibility introduced by playing with form in creative nonfiction. We will write essays as recipes, in the margins of official forms (think W-9s, invoices, tax documents), even experimenting with visual forms like musical notation and comics.

Together, we will engage in a generative four week investigation, pushing the envelope of the nonfiction form to see what we might create together. By the end of this course, writers will have five to ten generative beginnings for new projects or reworking of old projects, a working knowledge of pitching and submitting work should those generative beginnings turn into more polished work and at least one piece of written feedback from me about their beginnings.

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- Five to ten generative beginnings for either a new project or a reworking of an old project

- Prompts and exercises designed to circumnavigate stagnation

- A guide to pitching and submitting should you choose to develop your generative beginning into something more polished

- At least one piece of written feedback on one of your generative beginnings with forward-moving questions and comments to encourage a second draft

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Two to three pieces to be read each week, ready to discuss. Responses to generative prompts prior to class in the form of one open-ended question, as well as an inquisitive and open mind to generative prompts in class. No length or page requirements, however!


Week 1: Images

Week 2: Sounds

Week 3: Lists

Week 4: Forms

Nina Coomes

Nina Li Coomes is a Japanese and American writer, currently living in Chicago, IL. Her writing has appeared in EATER, The  Collapsar, and  RHINO Poetry among other places. Her debut chapbook haircut poems was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2017.


"Nina was committed to helping us succeed. She was understanding of our needs, offered insightful suggestions on our essays, was great at guiding workshop discussions. Last but not least, she was really respectful of each of us, as she was very prepared for every class, and was very timely."

former student

"Super enthusiastic, approachable, and knowledgable. Always felt like I could come to Nina if I had a question or concern with writing."

former student

"Nina was great at being enthusiastic and fostering an inclusive environment where I wasn't worried to share my opinions and participate in class."

former student

"Nina is the absolute best. She created such a safe collaborative space, and it was a joy to share a classroom with her. She did an amazing job fostering a sense of cohort within the class and did not have a superiority complex about heading up the classroom. Every class was meaningful and she was amazing at steering conversation and directing silence."

former student