Hedgebrook LogoHedgebrook Logo

Online Writing Series

Welcome to Hedgebrook’s online writing series. Now you can experience the radical hospitality we offer to writers at our Whidbey Island retreat in your own home or writing space, while studying with seasoned teachers from our community.

We offer classes in a diversity of genres designed to ground your writing practice and hone your craft. Classes are taped at the retreat, with the teacher and a small group of writers in the room together, so you’ll experience the alchemy of solitude and community that makes a Hedgebrook residency unique.

We also share elements of Hedgebrook’s retreat experience to inspire your writing, such as recipes from our Farmhouse kitchen and chefs, images from our land to print or use as a screensaver, and messages to energize your process. 

The Surprising Power of Vulnerability
with Claire Dederer

Friday, November 29, 2019 through Saturday, February 29, 2020

You may register and start the class at any time during this period and take it at your own pace, as many times as you’d like before February 29.


What does it mean to “do your job” as a memoirist?  In “The Surprising Power of Vulnerability,” New York Times bestselling memoirist, critic, and writing instructor Claire Dederer expertly guides students towards saying the uncomfortable truth. Claire helps students see that writing those difficult truths is in fact the moral function of the memoir. Through a series of readings, discussions, and practical exercises, students learn how to build a structure out of their own discomfort so that readers might shelter there, and ultimately, feel less alone.  You’ll use scene as an essential vehicle to write the kind of vulnerable work that lays bare the writer’s own honestly stated ambivalence–an honesty which ultimately serves the reader.  Claire addresses the critical importance of self-exposure in memoir writing, and helps writers break through the catharsis (instead of getting stuck there) in order to take that material and write it into a gift for the reader that is a work of art.

Filmed at Hedgebrook, in the Longhouse with a fire crackling and ducks quacking in the garden, this class offers writing exercises and strategies for writers to summon the courage needed to write difficult truths with real vulnerability in the memoir.   This class is structured to be of value to a wide range of students, at different points in their writing career.


Claire Dederer is the bestselling author of two critically acclaimed memoirs: Love and Trouble and Poser. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Vogue, The Paris Review, the Nation, Slate, Marie Claire, the Washington Post, and countless other publications.  Claire has taught writing at literary centers, conferences, and universities across the country, including Hugo House, StoryStudio Chicago, and the University of Washington. She currently teaches in the MFA writing program at Pacific University.

Fee: $80

Please note that we are unable to offer financial aid or scholarships for this program.

For Questions please contact: onlineclasses@hedgebrook.org


How does the class work?

The class is a videotaped session, divided into chapters, featuring the teacher and a small group of students at the Hedgebrook retreat. Each class includes lectures, practical writing exercises, and class discussion.

Is there homework?

The class is one continuous session, divided into chapters, with writing exercises woven in. There is no homework, though you may choose to incorporate some of these experiences into your everyday writing practice.

How much time will the class take?

Totally up to you! Class lengths vary, and all are designed so you can move at your own pace. Video lengths of each chapter are indicated and do not include writing time.

Can I take the class on my phone?

No, you’ll need a tablet or a computer with a fast internet connection to access class videos and materials. You will find that having a notebook and pen or your computer to do the exercises will be helpful.

Please send other questions to onlineclasses@hedgebrook.org