Online | Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Online Nonfiction Workshop: The Art of Profile Writing

Have you been moved by a person's energy, their excellence, and their life story to a point where you felt the strong urge to research them, know more about them, and write about them?

Then, you're in the right space. In this six-week journalism workshop, perfect for nonfiction writers at all stages of their writing career, we will dive into the world of profile writing. We will find a subject, craft a pitch on the relevance and importance of their story, go out and research and interview the subject and people around the subject, find conflict and tension in the subject's story, and write a story which is dynamic, expansive, and multi-dimensional.

The main goal of the workshop is to build the toolkit you would need to identify, report, and write a good profile story including interviewing techniques, finding the narrative arc, scene building, and landing the end. Using readings of prolific profile writers like Kevin Nguyen, Michael Schulman, Caity Weaver, Tom Junod, and D.T. Max, we will explore the elements that make a good profile great. I will also bring profile writers from the industry to share their reporting and writing process. In the past workshops, I've had profile writers like Michael Schulman from The New Yorker, John Hendrickson from The Atlantic, Gabriella Paiella from GQ, Katie Barnes from ESPN, and Zach Baron from GQ.

By the end of this course, you will have a workshopped profile story and the tools to pitch your story to a news organization, as well as the tools and confidence to build on your profile writing portfolio. Students can expect one intensive round of written feedback on their profile stories from me (on the first and the second draft), dissection of new and old long-form features, discussions about the path to publication, and one one-on-one meetings with me over six weeks to discuss their reporting and writing process. 

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.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Insight into the art of writing long-form profiles

- Developing proficiency in the various elements needed in writing a profile story

- Detailed feedback from idea generation to final draft of the profile story

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Brainstorming and honing a profile story idea

- Reporting the story (including interviewing and researching)

- Writing and revising the story

- To read and provide verbal and written feedback to peers

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Introductions and brainstorming ideas

Workshop: Idea pitch

Week 2: Interviewing skills + finalizing idea

Workshop: Preparation to interview the main subject

Week 3: How to effectively use time in a profile story

Workshop: Reporting around the main subject

Week 4: Finding conflict in a profile story

Workshop: outline -- finding the tension and conflict within the story

Week 5: How to effectively use secondary voices in the profile

Workshop: Writing the first draft

Week 6: Braided profiles -- how to use other writing styles like personal essays and investigative reporting in profile writing

Workshop: Submitting the final draft

Aishwarya Kumar

Aishwarya Kumar is a journalist, feature writer, yoga teacher, and an Indian immigrant to the US. As a staff writer for ESPN, she covers the intersection of sports, race, culture, identity, immigration, religion, politics and war. Her long-form story, "The Grandmaster Diet," was featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2020. Her work has been published in ESPN, National Geographic, Vice, Independent Media, The Hindu , and The New Indian Express. She has a BA in journalism from India and an MSc in journalism with special focus on feature writing from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

Testimonials

"Aishwarya is my go-to for workshopping ideas. Seldom have I come across someone who has such a keen eye for what makes a good story. She is thoughtful, enthusiastic and thorough in her assessment of an idea, and how to turn it into a good pitch. Despite working in different mediums — I’m a producer and she’s a feature writer — I often turn to her when I feel a lack of inspiration, because despite not having a single sports bone in my body, as a writer she is so much more expansive and I learn a little more about my own process after conversations on narrative structure with her. She exists at the intersection of everything from culture to politics, transcending the topic at hand and turning it into something that everyone can relate to. It is one of her biggest strengths. I am excited for Aishwarya’s workshop, and have no doubt that her students will leave with a better sense of how to join the dots and be more reflective of their craft."

Vishakha Darbha Associate Producer, THE NEW YORK TIMES

Aishwarya is such a dedicated and passionate teacher. She treats us like a community of working writers and gives us hands-on, real-world guidance drawn from her extensive experience as a writer and reporter that I thought I would only get in a graduate program or a staff writer position. I have learned so much not only from my own writing project but also from the incredible visiting writers she brings in to speak to us, the readings she assigns, and the other resources she so generously shares. Her energy and excitement for this work are infectious. I can't wait to take more classes from Aish. I know I still have so much more to learn from her!

Rachel Ketai former student

"I love reading Aish's work because I can hear her enthusiasm, compassion and understanding as she crafts scene, detail and dialog. She is patient with her subjects. She is diligent with her word choice. Most of all, she is purposeful -- from thinking about an idea to pre-reporting it, crafting a pitch, advocating for her idea, getting the green light and going. She's an absolute joy to work with, always seeking feedback and ideas that she can adapt and make work. I can't wait to read whatever she writes next."

Jena Janovy Longform Enterprise Editor, ESPN

"Curiosity fuels all good writers, and Aish has more than just about anyone. Her need to learn about people and things near and far yields unique and thoughtful pitches that turn into deeply reported and insightful storytelling. Aish is innovative and enthusiastic in her pursuit of journalism. She is both bold and meticulous in her writing. From conception to publication, she’s one of the most powerful and talented writers around."

Susie Arth Senior Editor, ESPNW and ESPN STORYTELLING

"Aish is among the most talented writers I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. She brings great enthusiasm to deeply reported long-form stories and thoughtful perspective to quick turn coverage. Her skill set is varied, and her ideas are fresh. Aish's reporting is always buttoned up, and she's able to identify the exact angle to ensure a story is unforgettable. All in all, she’s helped ESPN become a more innovative and more inclusive storytelling engine."

Ericka Goodman-Hughey Senior Editor, ESPNW and ESPN STORYTELLING

Aishwarya is a thoughtful, insightful instructor who knows how to pinpoint a good idea and tease it out into a compelling long-form feature. She’s an endless source of useful advice and anecdotes, and is incredibly generous with both her time and her expertise. It has been a huge privilege to learn from her. From having no experience in long-form journalism, reporting, or interviewing before I started Aish’s class, I’m now feeling confident to develop my ideas, research and interview sources, and write long-form stories.

Ayla Norris-Smith former student

Aish is a wonderful teacher and an incredibly skilled editor. She is invested in her student's writing, asking questions and sharing feedback that elevates the piece and takes it to the next level. She goes the extra mile, organizing guest speakers, sending comprehensive emails recapping key points from each class, and sharing relevant recommendations and writing opportunities. I can't say enough positive things and would highly recommend her as a teacher and editor!

Astrid Adam former student

I am so grateful to have met Aish through her Long-Form Article Workshop class. I had been stuck on a writing project for years and through her class and coaching, I was finally able to unblock my writing and get started putting pen to paper. In her workshop Aish focused on helping me find my voice and direction. She gave us prompts to guide us in how to think about what we are trying to accomplish with our writing. I loved the different kinds of exercises she gave us to give us clear structure for our pieces, as well as the assigned articles to read which led to in-depth discussions about how to craft our own narratives. Aish always inspired us to dig deeper into our work in order to connect with the heart of the stories we were trying to tell. As a teacher, she is extremely kind and giving. She is conscientious, attentive and always goes above and beyond for her students. Her door is always open for questions and her feedback is always thought-provoking. I appreciate her encouragement and relentless belief in our ability to get to where we want to be with our writing. Aish is the best writing mentor a struggling writer could hope for!

Wela Quan writer, lawyer, legal cartoonist and former student