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WRITE: Creative Nonfiction Workshop Description

Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Photograph © Andrew Pieper, 2012

Those of you who know I often teach at writers conferences sometimes ask about this aspect of my work. So I decided to share an occasional post that contains an expanded description of one of my workshops. 

This first one covers one of my most popular conference topics. I’ve taught this workshop at the Florida Christian Writers Conference and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. They’re both wonderful conferences and, as a special bonus, both have tracks for teen and adult writers.

C.S. Lewis referred to it as “surprised by joy.” L.M. Montgomery’s character Emily of New Moon called it “the flash.” Whatever you call it, if you consider yourself a writer or writer wannabe, you’ve experienced it: the spark of insight and creativity that moves you to pick up your pen/laptop/tablet and respond in words. 

That spark moves us to create. That spark causes us to respond to truth and beauty. And when we understand God created us with the ability and deep need to reflect His glory, that spark helps us persevere.

As a nonfiction writer, how do you nurture that spark? How do you express it in a fresh, personal, integrity-filled way?

I receive more questions about Creative Nonfiction than about any other aspect of my work as a writer and editor. I designed this workshop to answer some of those questions and to give a specific, faith-focused response to some of the issues (including truth) its popularity has prompted today.

The workshop explores the source of our creativity and the factors that war against it; a biblical process for creative renewal; specific techniques to breathe life into your nonfiction; and four essential elements of this intriguing, inspiring genre.

Someday, I’d love to have you share in this workshop. And prepare to fan the flame.

Have you heard of creative nonfiction or written a piece that uses its techniques? Feel free to leave a comment and share about your work or ask a question.  


  1. I’m never quite sure what qualifies as creative nonfiction. I’ve written pieces in first person about family trips and parenting, which had descriptive elements that were similar to fiction techniques. I have used tidbits of humor and personal stories in some magazine articles. Does that count?

    • The lines are more and more blurred these days because all our nonfiction should have creative elements that draw in our readers and keep them. I’m not sure the “tidbits of humor and personal stories” make it creative nonfiction (but they could, depending on how you wrote them), but the fiction techniques sound like it. Here are two working definitions of the genre, again from my workshop: “The use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner.”—Lee Gutkind, founder and editor, Creative Nonfiction; and “A hybrid of literature and nonfiction that contains elements of both.”—Phil Druker, Dept. of English, University of Idaho

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