Creative Nonfiction

with Nicole Baute


Telling the truth during uncertain times


It is my absolute pleasure to offer Nicole Baute’s course to our writers again this year. This course filled very quickly last time, and it’s no surprise: Nicole is a gifted writer and a generous teacher, with a deep knowledge of craft and respect for form. Her students adore her, and we feel very lucky to have her working with our school.




June 29 to August 19, 2020

– Eight-week course –

Have you ever read a beautiful passage in a novel or memoir and felt immediately in your gut that it was true? Not true as in factual, but true as in raw and real. True as in you feel an instant connection with the writer. You trust them. You believe them. You want to spend more time in their world.

It doesn’t take superhuman skill or extraordinary life experiences to write in this way. It takes permission.

Our creative nonfiction course, created and taught by Nicole Baute, will help you give yourself permission to write things that astonish you.

This course is for you if:

  • You secretly sense your writing lacks depth, honesty, or intensity

  • You’ve taken the Story Course or the Story Intensive but haven’t yet ventured into creative nonfiction

  • You’re eager to strengthen your voice and bring a new freshness to your work in all genres

  • You’d like to write about experiences from your past or issues you’re grappling with in the present

  • You’re curious about the world and believe in the power of asking difficult questions

You can expect to:

  • Discover a new way of writing that draws equally from head and heart

  • Craft unique, engaging personal essays that you can submit for publication and/or use for learning and self-growth

  • Uncover the subjects you care about most, unlocking countless possibilities for future projects

  • Experiment with an idea for a book-length memoir during two brand new lessons

  • Surprise, delight, and impress yourself with what you really have to say 

The Details

This is an eight-week course beginning on Monday, June 29, 2020, and running until Wednesday, August 19, 2020. Class is in session Monday through Wednesday; students are encouraged to visit the classroom at their convenience during each week’s three-day window.

We will focus primarily on the personal essay, a form that allows us to explore a wide range of subjects through memory, observation, research, and/or collage, and we’ll also discuss how to conceptualize and structure a life story or memoir. This is a foundational introduction to creative nonfiction for writers looking to expand.

Features include master classes from established writers, in-class video exercises, a guided reflection to help you re-centre when you feel uncertain, and a live getting-to-know-you group video call.

Tuition: $675 USD

Space for only seven students


A book should either allow the reader to escape existence or teach him how to endure it.”

— Samuel Johnson

Course Overview:

    • Week 1: The strange power of CNF — exploring a game-changing genre
    • Week 2: To try, to wonder, to question — getting started with the personal essay
    • Week 3: Storytelling and the slippery truth — bringing your stories to life
    • Week 4: Busting out, reining in — focus, research, and point of view
    • Week 5: Experimenting with form — playing with extraordinary structures
    • Week 6: Telling your life story — navigating a narrative arc
    • Week 7: Delving deeper into memoir — exploring theme and style
    • Week 8: Wrap-up — integrating creative nonfiction into your writing life

Each week you’ll devour essays that demonstrate the power of creative nonfiction and teach us how to write it. You’ll read lecture notes, join a group discussion online, and participate in timed writing exercises. You’ll be asked to write and share 600 words building off that week’s lesson. At the end of the course you’ll have a chance to finish a full length essay or memoir excerpt (1,200 words). 

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “I would have been happy if it had gone on forever!”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “It was exciting to be part of a group of writers who were so fearless about sharing intensely personal experiences — and I know that our comfort in doing so was a direct result of Nicole's empathetic and encouraging teaching style.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “I learned so much, and grew so much as a writer in those weeks.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “The readings were diverse and gave me new resources to continue learning about creative nonfiction, as well as readings that allowed me to see how powerful this genre can be when well done.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “I didn't realize how much about creative nonfiction I did NOT know until I took the course ... I appreciate the wide pasture I was given: a space in which to explore personal storytelling with enrichment, writing skills and documentation. I didn't think I had much of a story to tell. Surprise! Nicole is such an exceptional teacher. She listens deeply, comments thoughtfully and her suggestions for improvement are spot on! I wholeheartedly recommend her to any student
    considering a class.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “I loved this class and would highly recommend it to anyone seeking to write their personal stories in a way that is fun, intimate, and creative. This class helped me see the myriad of ways creative non-fiction can be approached. Gone are the days of dull, academic essay writing!”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Nicole’s creative nonfiction class gave me a greater understanding of how to question our lives and engagement with others as we move through it. I have a more contemplative relationship with my writing than I did before. I am thinking more deeply about even the basic things that are happening in my life and realizing that those things are worth examining and writing about.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Before this class I had a limited understanding of what CNF was — this despite having written a memoir! I left the course excited to continue, excited to keep reading more CNF and appreciating the craft of CNF in all its forms. Nicole has a sincere and caring approach — focusing on the positives and gently guiding us to keep stretching our skills. She is insightful and shared her perspective in a generous, authentic way.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Taking the CNF course was a turning point in my writing practice. Up until that time, I had been writing more traditional nonfiction and just felt like something was off. I recently published a piece that I drafted in this course and haven't stopped writing creative nonfiction since!”

About Nicole Baute:

Nicole Baute grew up on a farm in southwestern Ontario and has since lived in Toronto, Vancouver, Ghana, and India. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The Forge, Prairie Fire, carte blanche, Cleaver, Wigleaf and elsewhere, and in 2018 she won the Pinch Literary Prize for Fiction. Professional highlights include three years as a reporter at the Toronto Star and teaching creative writing online at Sarah Selecky Writing School since 2016. Nicole currently lives with her partner and well-travelled cat in Hong Kong, where she is an assistant lecturer and writing coach at the University of Hong Kong.

You can find Nicole at