Online | Open-Genre | Seminar

6-Week Open-Genre Generative Seminar: From First Thought to First Draft

“First thoughts have tremendous energy,” says Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing  Down the Bones. This generative class will harness that energy through a series of guided exercises, craft lectures, and in-class readings designed to help you generate first drafts and beginnings of new work. With no take-home reading or exercises, this class is ideal for writers of all skill levels who have busy schedules and would like to build in some productive writing time. 

Students should come ready to experiment with both fiction and creative nonfiction. Sharing exercises out loud is an important part of this class, and, while we will be discussing them, all feedback will be limited to positive feedback. The goal of these generative sessions is to get words on the page and to guide writers toward expanding their drafts should they decide to revise them on their own time. You will leave the class with a notebook full of first drafts and writing prompts to revisit whenever you feel stuck.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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.  


- Simple prompts that can be used long after the class is complete

- Time to create new work in a supportive, low-pressure environment

- Opportunity to discover and experiment with new forms 

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


The majority of class time will be spent on generative writing exercises: writing, sharing, and discussing them. There will be some time devoted to in-class reading of fiction, creative nonfiction, and craft essays. Most of the reading assigned outside of class time will be optional reading.


Week 1: Welcome & Course Expectations

Week 2: Character

Week 3: Place & Setting

Week 4: Research in Fiction

Week 5: Family Lore

Week 6: Revision

(subject to change)

Lena Valencia

Lena Valencia is the director of educational programming and managing editor of One Story. She has held positions at A Public Space and BOMB Magazine, and taught classes at The New School and Sackett Street Writers. Her writing has appeared in Joyland, Epiphany, BOMB, the Tiny Nightmares anthology, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in fiction from The New School and is the recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation grant. For more information, visit


"Writing fiction is like leaping into darkness, reaching for a bar you can’t see. For the first few attempts at a story, you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall, even if you’re an experienced writer. On day one of our workshop, Lena set up a strong, elastic net of trust and support. We all felt inspired to try challenging feats, knowing that when we fell, we’d bounce back up and catch the bar with the momentum to swing to the opposite platform."

former student

"Lena was a wonderful instructor, always a great blend of thoughtful and thorough when reading, as well as insightful during critiques. Our class featured a very diverse blend of voices, styles, and genres, and Lena was able to add value to every submission. She reads and comments with a true editorial eye, and her feedback truly helped improve my work."

former student