I believe in the transformational power of story.

My mission is to empower life writers, story tellers, and other brave hearts.

I’ve designed my online writing courses to provide essential
knowledge, tools, and skills to tell your story with

fearless creativity

and

stylistic innovation.

CNF story writer, Nicole Breit

I’m Nicole Breit and I write about life.

Creator of Spark Your Story, a series of online writing programs designed to help writers craft compelling personal narratives using the essential tools of form and craft.

Author of two chapbooks—I Can Make Life and How to Grieve a Broken Heart.

My work has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies including Brevity, carte blanche, Event, Room, Archer, The Puritan, After the Art, The Sounds of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage, and Swelling with Pride: Queer Conception and Adoption Stories.

I hold degrees in English Literature and Education and am a regular contributor of craft articles for Hippocampus magazine. My award-winning essay about first love and loss, “An Atmospheric Pressure”, was selected as a Notable Essay by Best American Essays 2017.

If you’re interested in turning your memories into memoir, check out the articles on my resources page or my writing programs. For occasional writing tips, inspiration, and course updates, sign up for my newsletter.

I created my first online course in 2016 because helping writers tell the stories
they longed to write felt deeply aligned with my values and purpose.

 

But before I said yes to teaching writers, I had to say yes to my writing.

I started keeping journals when I was 12, began writing poetry in my teens, and studied creative writing prior to completing my teacher training in my 20s—but I didn’t start taking my writing seriously until my late thirties.

Like all of us, I had a Great Big Story to tell; like many of us, I didn’t know how to write it.

Mine was an unruly grief narrative, and it overwhelmed me just thinking about it. But not writing it was blocking me creatively (a pretty big sign my unwritten story was impacting other areas of my life, too).

When I look at my early essays now—the stories I wrote before I learned how to sidestep fear, organize my raw material, and write intimately about my experiences—I see a writer struggling to let her guard down. I was trying to protect myself from feeling all the feelings, and I tended to draft “thinky” pieces that distanced the reader.

Story notebook, pen and journal

In the summer of 2014 I signed up for an online course on the lyric essay.

When I discovered non-linear, hybrid storytelling forms I found my way inside a cluster of difficult stories that, taken one by one, added up to my Great Big Story.

Those stories came at my grief narrative from different angles in smaller, easier to manage “frames”; eventually they all came together as a hybrid poetry and CNF chapbook called How to Grieve a Broken Heart.

With the lyric essay I could craft fragmented narratives that straddled poetry and prose, and felt truer to memory and experience. I was able to get closer to my story and go deeper with it as I wrangled with the messy truth—at the heart of my story lay an unacknowledged traumatic experience that had impacted me and my life in significant ways.

These forms transformed my writing, and in the process, led to some deep healing, as well. By writing my story I’d unwittingly benefitted from what is known as narrative therapy.

To my surprise, most of my first lyric essays were published in a brief period of time—

and in 2016, three of those essays won awards.

An Atmospheric Pressure

Spectrum

Shame Shame

“An Atmospheric Pressure” won Room magazine’s annual CNF contest, and was selected as a Notable Essay for The Best American Essays 2017.

“Spectrum” was chosen as the first prize winner of the annual Creative Non Fiction Collective/carte blanche competition

“Shame Shame” received Hippocampus magazine’s Most Memorable Award

An Atmospheric Pressure

“An Atmospheric Pressure” won Room magazine’s annual CNF contest, and was selected as a Notable Essay for The Best American Essays 2017.

Spectrum

“Spectrum” was chosen as the first prize winner of the annual Creative Non Fiction Collective/carte blanche competition

Shame Shame

“Shame Shame” received Hippocampus magazine’s Most Memorable Award

In January 2017 I launched my first online writing course on four “outlier” creative nonfiction forms. Every day I’m deeply honoured and humbled by the writers who sign up to learn from me—ready to delve deep into their memories with an open mind and heart.

My first course was called CNF Outliers—a name I chose to describe the forms that most intrigued me and that had shaped my prize-winning work. I witnessed the writers who took my course tell their stories in powerful first drafts—and with absolute joy I watched many of those writers have their work selected for publication and awards, too.

I call the writers who take my courses not students but teachers. They’ve taught me as much—or more—about craft and process as my university professors, writing instructors, and favourite authors.

The 10 Best Things That Happened

Because I Said Yes To My Writing

Read more

We make up a warm, supportive writing community now, the writers who join me in taking a curious, playful, open-hearted approach to crafting even our hardest stories.

I call our growing community of writers my heart and brain trust. They call themselves Outliers.

Writer, if you’re here to answer a call, follow a dream, or simply improve your craft you’re in the right place. Thank you for finding me and my work. I’m truly honoured and thrilled you’re here!

Spark Your Story teacher, Nicole Breit

outlier

noun | out·li·er | \ˈau̇t-ˌlī(-ə)r\

  1. someone who stands apart from others, as by differing behaviour, beliefs or practices;
  2. an observation that is well outside of the expected range of values in a study or experiment, and which is often discarded from the data set;
  3. a point in a sample widely separated from the main cluster of points in the sample.

I like it here, living and writing on the outer edges

  • Born under the sign of the twins, I’m less drawn to certainties than possibilities; I prefer recognizing the interesting duality in people, life, and art.
  • I’m equally passionate about poetry and prose, identify as bi, and call myself an atheist/believer.
  • My Briggs-Meyer type is INFP; my misfit tribe of mystic healers comprise just 4% of the population.
  • The music, art, and writing I love most explore the blurry in-betweens. Embrace the edge.
  • This list reads quite a bit like a non-linear, fragmented essay.
  • I love supporting writers who want to experiment with genre-bending forms—especially the ones struggling with vulnerable stories—so they can find new ways to look at their experiences and tell their truths.

That’s what I’m here to do.

Here’s to all your brave, amazing, beautiful stories,

dear writers—ready to make their way into the world!

XO

Nicole Breit signature
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