If you’re looking for help with writing a memoir or essay collection, my professional memoir writing course, The Spark Your Story Intensive is for you. 

I’m Nicole Breit, an award-winning essayist, and writing coach, and today I want to walk you through a program I specifically designed to meet the unique needs of writers whose ultimate goal is to finish their book and get it published. 

Let’s dive in and go over everything you need to know about this one-of-a-kind program for writers of memoirs and creative nonfiction. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:


  • Why I offer this memoir writing course. (I know the cost of an unfinished, unshared story!)
  • What the Spark Your Story Intensive is all about. (How would it feel to celebrate your next creative breakthrough?)
  • How the Spark Your Story Intensive is a unique program for writers.
  • How the program helps memoir authors break through writing blocks.
  • My publication strategy.
  • Why you need to start publishing short-form memoir NOW.
  • If the Spark Your Story Intensive is a good fit for you.
  • How I’ve designed the Spark Your Story Intensive program.
  • What you’ll achieve by the end of this professional writing program for memoir writers.
  • About your guides in this online memoir writing course. 
  • What you should know about your memoir or essay collection.
  • How to join us in the Spark Your Story Intensive.


Resources Featured In This Episode Of ‘Memoir Writing Course For Unpublished Writers’:



Your key takeaways from ‘Want To Be A Published Writer? This Memoir Writing Course Is For You.’



Hi, I’m Nicole Breit, an award-winning essayist and writing coach.

I teach writers who are ready to make significant progress on their goal of sharing their book with the world and I’ve created a number of online programs, including the Spark Your Story Intensive, the 12-week program we’re talking about today for writers who are working on a manuscript project.



Let’s dive in and go over everything you need to know about my memoir writing course, the Spark Your Story Intensive – a one-of-a-kind program for writers of memoir and creative nonfiction. 


Does this sound like you and your stalled memoir project?


  • You feel lost in the woods and afraid that even if you finish your book it may never get published. 
  • You feel called to finally tell your story, but you are always aware that the clock is ticking. It feels like time is running out.
  • You want the support of an experienced mentor so you can stop wasting time and start writing your best work to share it with the world.


How would it feel to celebrate your next creative breakthrough?


How would you like to learn the many possibilities of story form and structure so you feel empowered by new ways to shape your memories into a memoir?

And how would it feel to you to work one-on-one with an experienced coach who can guide you as you do your work so you can finally get your work published?

This is what the Spark Your Story Intensive is all about. It was designed by me and delivered by multi-award-winning author Rowan McCandless.


How is the Spark Your Story Intensive a unique memoir writing course for writers?


What we’re doing in the Spark Your Story Intensive is very different from a lot of other writing programs out there. I’ve done some market research and I haven’t been able to find anything quite like what we offer. 

The Spark Your Story Intensive really honors the deep work of writing a personal narrative. We understand that this is really vulnerable work so we’re committed to:

  • nurturing a safe space for creativity. 
  • treating your work in progress with the utmost respect.

That is the most important thing to us because we want you to be able to feel supported. To feel that your growth is supported and for you to be able to craft your best work with the time that you spend in the program.

The Spark Your Story Intensive is different because we support what I call a mosaic approach to writing a book. If you are expecting to come into a professional program here, thinking you’re going to break down your big idea into an outline and plot things out and write towards an arc that isn’t really how it works with us. 

We’re really focused on breaking a big story down into small pieces and writing stories that in and of themselves are worthy of publication. So each week in the program you’re going to produce a short work of creative nonfiction towards the bigger goal of creating a portfolio.

The Spark Your Story Intensive supports a publication strategy for your creative nonfiction. You’re going to receive guidance on submitting the work you produce in the program toward the completion of your manuscript. 

The Spark Your Story Intensive isn’t a workshop-based course. You get personalized one-on-one instructor feedback on every writing project you submit. You’re also going to get guidance on next steps for your project via a portfolio review at the very end with me.

So you’re working towards the goal of producing a portfolio that your instructor will be looking at every week. I’m going to give you the next steps, encouragement, and suggestions for your project’s ongoing development and publication.


How we help memoir authors break through writing blocks.


A major struggle we’ve identified for writers of personal narratives is the feeling of overwhelm. Our approach to writing a memoir or essay collection helps writers just by breaking a book’s worth of material down to one potent story at a time. Writing it piece by piece is an approach that will allow you to make steady progress on your project while also publishing your work simultaneously.


Our approach may seem counterintuitive if you’re thinking, “Well, if my ultimate goal is to publish a book, shouldn’t I just finish my draft, find an agent, work on revisions and then contact a publisher with my proposal? Isn’t that how it works?”

Our approach can actually streamline the publication process for you when you are ready to talk to an agent or publisher with a book proposal. You’re going to be building a literary CV as you test the market with your stories and complete your manuscript. By the time your project is finished, you’ll have some publication credits that you can mention in your query letter or proposal. You’re going to be a little bit further ahead than writers who are just expecting to finish a manuscript, hand it over to a publisher and wait for them to agree to publish their book.


Why you need to start publishing short-form memoir NOW.


I’ve been teaching creative nonfiction for six years, and I can tell you there is a growing passionate market for the kinds of short form experimental work you will be producing in the Spark Your Story Intensive. Readers, editors, and publishers are looking for personal stories that explore the universal themes we’ve all read about – but written in new and innovative ways.

I’d like you to consider the high publication rate and number of award nominations of some of the writers who have been through my Spark Your Story program including Deanna Partridge David and Karen Zey. These are writers who had some of their early publications come out of work produced in my courses.

I get emails, letters, and Facebook messages frequently from writers who want to tell me the good news that the work they’ve produced in my courses has been accepted for publication. They’re being selected for contest long lists and shortlists, like Deborah Elderhorst who won the 2019 Creative Nonfiction Collective Award, and another one of my students, Margaret Nowaczyk, who won the 2020 Creative Nonfiction Collective Award, both for work produced in my classes.


Is the Spark Your Story Intensive a good fit for you?


The Spark Your Story Intensive is designed for writers who are struggling to get started, organize, and/or finish a draft of a memoir and are willing to approach their project as a collection of linked pieces.

We’re interested in helping writers whose book strategy is in alignment with ours – writers who want to generate a portfolio of short experimental work to submit to publications and include as part of their essay collection or long-form memoir.

We want Spark Your Story Intensive writers to feel at ease in an online learning environment because the program is run through a password-protected course platform.

We want you to be comfortable with reading as the primary learning mode. We don’t do live lectures. There are some Zoom group calls included throughout the program, but it won’t be the primary way that you access your learning materials and do the work.

We also want you to feel motivated by the pace of the program and not overwhelmed by the fairly intense weekly writing deadlines. Projects are not lengthy – you’ll be working on producing short form memoir – but you will be reading, digesting, learning craft elements, and encouraged to try different types of writing projects on a weekly basis. It is an intensive pace.

We also want Spark Your Story Intensive writers to feel excited to explore their material in new ways. We want them to feel safe, supported, and encouraged to take risks and ask questions – and to feel confident with the next steps that we suggest for them on their creative journey and their path to publication.


How I’ve designed the Spark Your Story Intensive program. 


The Spark Your Story Intensive is a 12-week program for writers who want to generate a portfolio of submission worthy essays as they work toward the completion of their book.

Writers get lifelong access to the program so although the official program dates are 12 weeks in length you are going to have ongoing access to the materials.

The Spark Your Story Intensive combines two experimental writing programs in one potent learning bundle. The first section of the course teaches what I call “outlier” forms on the edge of creative nonfiction. We do a deep dive into the flash essay, the prose poem, the lyric essay, and the hermit crab essay.

Part Two of the Spark Your Story Intensive pushes the boundaries of the essay even further into structures influenced by visual art. We will be looking at the panel essay – the two-part diptych essay and the three-part triptych essay – and the many variations of the visual essay. As well as a form I call the de-centered or graphic hermit crab essay.

Each module includes a deep dive into form and structure with weekly lessons, curated readings, and author Q and A’s. The Spark Your Story Intensive includes craft mini lessons, pre-writing exercises, and projects to get you writing powerful first drafts.

You’re going to:

  • be part of a small, warm and supportive community where you can connect with other writers via live group calls. 
  • receive one-to-one instructor feedback to guide revision and suggest next steps for each new draft you produce.
  • be invited to office hours for extra one-on-one time with your instructor. 
  • participate in a final portfolio review with me where you’re going to get additional feedback on writing generated in the program and some suggested next steps.


We’re also going to celebrate your amazing work in an end of program Zoom reading. Definitely my favourite part of the program!


What you’ll achieve by the end of the Spark Your Story Intensive.


You’ll have in-depth knowledge of the variety of forms and structures for personal storytelling.

You’re going to have produced a portfolio of new work towards the completion of your book manuscript that you can start submitting to literary journals.

You’re going to have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to maintain momentum on your project even after the program ends.

And we are going to celebrate your work with our end of program group reading. The portfolio review is an opportunity to have a conversation about everything you’ve worked on, get some feedback, and suggested next steps for where your work is going. 

Often having another reader who can look at everything you’ve produced as a whole can lead to some insights that are really useful for the development of the next batch of stories you want to write – or to come up with a unifying theme and direction for your book.


Get to know your guides in the Spark Your Story Intensive


Meet Nicole Breit. That’s me!

I came to creative nonfiction 10 years ago. At the time I didn’t feel confident calling myself a writer. It was really becoming a mom that gave me the push that I needed to prioritize my writing.

I took a lyric essay course in 2014 which really helped unlock some of the difficult stories I had been wanting to write. This course changed everything for me as a writer and a future instructor of personal storytelling. I really found my way in and through difficult stories by experimenting with the lyric essay and hybrid forms like the ones I went on to teach: the prose poem, visual essay, hermit crab essay, the collage essay. All of these playful forms that I love teaching.

I found that getting experimental with short experimental forms actually made the writing process easier for me and it made my writing more creative at the same time. Working with frameworks to tell my story gave my material focus. I also found that creative constraints nurtured innovation. I was producing more interesting, publication worthy work. I was able to quickly generate flash length material to start submitting to publications and contests.

In 2016 I won three awards for my creative non-fiction. My work was getting accepted in journals, I was interviewed, invited to festivals, and doing readings. My life changed overnight after winning those literary contests. I was finally recognized as the writer that I had hoped I could be – and that really inspired me to teach other writers what I had learned and offer them some shortcuts so that they could also achieve their goals more quickly with the information and strategies to do what I did.

I launched my first online course called Creative Nonfiction Outliers in January 2017 and to my delight, it helped kickstart the careers of a number of writers. Here are kind words from one of my students, Emily James: Nicole’s writing programs have launched so many careers at this point and calling it a movement.

Meet Rowan McCandless, your Spark Your Story Intensive instructor

In 2017 Rowan was brand new to creative nonfiction when she signed up for my very first course, Creative Nonfiction Outliers. She felt at the time that a lack of direction and community were major initial barriers to her writing. But she also felt a lot of fear about writing into her material as it dealt with themes like intergenerational trauma, racism, domestic abuse, mental illness, love, loss and the writing process.

Her material was, of course, very personal and some of it quite raw and vulnerable. Rowan’s writing was really transformed as she began to embrace working with hybrid forms and started submitting her work for publication. A number of writers have told me the same thing about working with the short-term experimental forms that we teach. That there’s safety in the puzzle work of writing into hard material this way.

I think it has to do with the brain not being able to focus on solving the puzzle of how you’re going to fit your material into a form. There isn’t room to also experience the emotional content of a story. 

It’s always amazing to see what writers come up with when they start to understand what’s possible for their stories as they discover experimental story forms in the readings we share and discuss.

Since 2019 Rowan has taught my courses on form and structure. I’m really excited to have her come back to teach the Spark Your Story Intensive. She is currently the creative non-fiction editor for Canada’s longest standing and respected literary journals, The Fiddlehead, and in October 2021 Rowan’s first book, Persephone’s Children: A Life in Fragments, was published. Her book has been highly celebrated and was a finalist for the highest literary honour in Canada, the Governor General’s Award.

What we want you to know about your memoir or essay collection.


Writers, if we can do this, you can too! Rowan and I absolutely love witnessing the breakthroughs that happen when writers start to get playful with form and find new ways to tell their stories. You can literally write a whole book piecing your story together one small story at a time into a collection like Rowan did. 


What writers say about the Spark Your Story Intensive.


“I’d attended other creative writing courses but none which explored the Innovative forms Nicole guides you through in detail. Within a few weeks, the course content and thorough feedback unlocked my first ever hermit crab essay which was long listed for two contests and several months later, my first writing award nomination. I’m infinitely grateful to Nicole for helping me finally generate publishable contest worthy creative non-fiction.”
~ Catherine Lewis


The experimental CNF forms I explored in this course opened me up in new creative ways. As an instructor Rowan McCandless was incredible. Alongside her knowledge of the forms, she created a safe and intimate space that made it possible for me to tackle difficult subject matter like my father’s passing. As a result, while working with Rowan, I wrote my prose poem “My father as Rhythm and Lakewater” which placed second in the Banff Center Bliss Carmen poetry contest.”
~ Diana Hope Tegencamp


“A piece I wrote in Nicole’s class was shortlisted for the CNFC Guelph Humber prize. I’m so grateful for your course, and to Rowan for the boost it gave my writing, especially in the fray of a year that the end of 2020 and early 2021 turned out to be. Thank you for your work and to Rowan for hers. The content in your program is very special and very cool.”
~ Hilary Fair

Want to join us in the Spark Your Story Intensive?


Enrollment in the Spark Your Story Intensive opens twice a year and we cap the number of spots at 10 so that it can remain a very small cohort with opportunities for one-to-one learning.

Session One runs from February to May and the second session of every year runs from September to December.

We accept writers into the program by application and it’s a very simple process. Join the wait list and when an enrollment period is coming up you’ll be invited to apply by answering three questions. We want to know about your writing and publication history – but if you haven’t published anything that isn’t a reason not to apply! We are looking for writers of all levels of experience. 

We also want to know if you are currently working on a memoir or essay collection and to learn a bit about the themes you’re exploring. And we also want to know why you feel the Spark Your Story Intensive would be right for you.



You can join the waitlist at this link or email us at info@sparkyourstory.com.