Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Nonfiction Workshop: Experiments in Form

“In some ways, creative nonfiction is like jazz—it’s a rich mix of flavors, ideas, and techniques, some of which are newly invented and others as old as writing itself. Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, or a poem; it can be personal or not, or it can be all of these.” – Lee Gutkind, founder of Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction is a wide-open field in which writers adventure into new kinds of expression, style, genre, and form. They use fictional tools like dialogue, scene, character, and figurative language—they also use the tools of poetry, journalism, memoir, and even visual art to tell their stories. With so much possibility at a writer’s fingertips, it can be hard to narrow one’s focus enough to decide what to say, let alone how to say it. This class will combine readings, discussions, workshops, and writing prompts to help you find the voice and shape of your creative nonfiction.


- Introductions to forms including the personal essay, flash essay, braided essay, and lyric essay, and tools for using them

- Supportive, productive peer and instructor feedback on two essay submissions

- A personal, one-on-one conference with Sarah about one of your submissions, your writing practice, and your goals as a writer

- Straightforward, practical craft lessons and writing prompts

- A supportive, nurturing group of peer writers which extends outside the classroom

Sarah Gerard

Sarah Gerard the author of Sunshine State, a New York Times critics’ choice, the novel Binary Star, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times first fiction prize, and two chapbooks. She's currently at work on a novel and  book-length work of nonfiction. She also make collages.


"Gerard masterfully explores the environmental, economic, and regional complexities of Florida alongside the eternal mysteries of identity, home, family, trauma, and desire. A stellar essay collection by a writer in possession of a talent as singular and furious as Florida itself."

Laura van den Berg author of FIND ME

"Sarah Gerard’s SUNSHINE STATE gloriously gutted me—and by that I mean changed me forever as a reader. Using Florida as a lens and the body as a ticket to travel, Gerard weaves her astonishing prose through land and corporeal truth. SUNSHINE STATE reminds us of who we really are underneath the skin we live in and the ground we stand on—and mercifully, there is still beauty, in spite of everything."

Lidia Yuknavitch author of THE BOOK OF JOAN and THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER

"These large-hearted, meticulous essays offer an uncanny x-ray of our national psyche, examining that American mess of saints and conmen, the peculiar, culpable innocence that American mess of saints and conmen, the peculiar, culpable innocence that confuses money and moral worth, charity and personal aggrandizement. Gerard’s prose is lacerating and compassionate at once, showing us both the grand beauty of our American dreams and the heartbreaking devastation they wreak."

Profile Photo Garth Greenwell author of WHAT BELONGS TO YOU

"Sarah Gerard writes about love and loneliness in a new and brilliantly visceral way."

Jenny Offill author of DEPT. OF SPECULATION

"I just wanted to get started on fiction again, which had stalled for me. This class EXCEEDED my expectations. My classmates were thoughtful, knowledgeable, and interesting, and the size of the class was PERFECT. As for Sarah, she was impeccably prepared every single time, with two readings each for us to do, where we focused on some aspects of fiction writing that were much deeper and more intricate than the usual plot, tense stuff you get in other workshops. It was a deeply intellectual exercise and really helped us delve deeply into all the ways a story could be constructed. She spent the same time and energy on our work and seriously, this is the best fiction class I’ve ever taken. I am blown away. I wrote so much and feel very prepared to use my time fruitfully. Great inspiration."

former student

"In addition to being an exceptional writer, Sarah is also an incredibly perceptive, intuitive, and encouraging editor. Her comments and suggestions not only strengthen my work but also consistently lead me to a deeper and more thoughtful approach to my writing."

Eleanor Kriseman Editor, JOYLAND MAGAZINE

"Sarah Gerard writes with soulful clarity and keen intelligence about the cultish relationships and aspirational thinking that course through American life. This is a collection packed with bittersweet longing—for a life that’s fuller or wilder or wealthier, for a larger self that’s always out of reach."

Profile Photo Alex Mar author of WITCHES OF AMERICA

"Sarah Gerard’s SUNSHINE STATE is a deeply intelligent, personal, and political collection of rich essays, with a clarity sharp as an icicle and ‘place’ as the connective tissue. The themes of class, identity politics, and loneliness emerge in ways that are simultaneously disturbing and comforting. The perfect book for the complex and heady humans in your life, AKA, for everyone."

Profile Photo Chloe Caldwell author of I'LL TELL YOU IN PERSON

"Sarah Gerard brings an immersion journalist’s acuity and shrewdness to essays made urgent by a native daughter’s alloy of sympathy and rage. Capacious and captivating, SUNSHINE STATE gets Florida right—and dead to rights—while breathing fresh life into the shoe-leather memoir."

Profile Photo Justin Taylor author of FLINGS

"I could read Sarah Gerard all day. She is a seeker and a seer, a critic and an empath, an intellectual and a poet. This book isn’t just about Florida; it’s about America. It’s about humanity."

Profile Photo Darcey Steinke author of SISTER GOLDEN HAIR