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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 filmed at the retreat, and presented as a series of pre-recorded chapters, with the teacher and a small group of writers. The class can be taken all at once or over the course of time it is offered. You can take the class as many times as you’d like within the timeframe.

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. 

Please see the FAQs for answers to many of your questions. If you have questions that are not answered in the FAQs, feel free to email us at onlineclasses@hedgebrook.org.

We hope you enjoy the class! 

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?

This online class is a series of pre-recorded video sessions, divided into chapters, featuring the teacher and a small group of students in a cottage at the Hedgebrook retreat. Each class includes lectures, writing exercises, and pre-recorded class conversation. At this time, there is no chat room, and teachers do not review your work. You may start and stop the video at any point. Most chapters end with a writing exercise. 

Is there homework?

The class is one continuous session that you can take at your own pace (or over several days or a few weeks), with writing exercises woven in. The teacher will prompt you in the video when there is a writing exercise.

How much time will the class take?

This is totally up to you! Different classes are different lengths, and all are designed so you can move at your own pace. Once you register, you are welcome to return to the class as often as you like until the last day it’s offered. The total recorded length of Claire’s online class is 75 minutes. The class is broken down into eight chapters, varying in length from 6 to 16 minutes. Most of the chapters end with a writing prompt or exercise, which you can do on your own time simply by pausing the video and then coming back and starting with the next chapter. You might want to plan to spend 5-15 minutes on each of the writing prompts, in addition to the recorded instruction.

Is there a Discussion or Chat Room?

At this time, there is no interactive element, so there is no suggested schedule. In the future, we may be able to offer a chat room where students can communicate with one another. Some students were present for the filming of the class and who appear in the video, doing the exercises and joining in the pre-recorded class discussion, which adds to the richness of Claire’s instruction. 

Will the teacher review my work?

No, the teacher appears only in the online class videos. 

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. You may 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.