Writing the Body: A Nonfiction Craft Seminar

with Margo Steines

embodied writing interview | writing and the body

April 9, 2024
2 Single-Day Webinars


The weird and wild body is a rich site of exploration in creative nonfiction. How do we occupy our bodies, what do we do with them, how do we feel in them? What is the relationship between the body and the self? 

By delving into spaces of illness, sexuality, athletics, genetics, and more, we can bring some of the truths of our bodies to the page and begin to tell bigger truths about the experience of being human and alive.

In this two-session generative seminar for writers with all levels of experience, you will be guided through readings from writers like Melissa Febos, Maddie Norris, and Sarah Ramey, prompts, and practices that allow you the opportunity to explore the questions, stories, and lessons your body holds.

Writers will leave this class with a deeper understanding of how to write their physical experiences, an increased skill set in the craft of body writing, and a keen eye for analyzing the meaning of physical culture. 

Learning and Writing Goals

 Learning Goals

In this class, you will:

  • Learn how to write about your physical experiences with precision and accuracy.
  • Learn concrete, specific craft goals for body writing
  • Connect your embodied experiences and your relationship with your body to your work on the page. 
  • Locate and write about the spaces of physical culture in your own life and in the world around you.

Writing Goals

In this class, you will:

  • Work daily on the practice of body writing.
  • Respond to craft exercises that give you space to practice our articulated goals for body writing.
  • Respond to prompts designed to guide you deeper into body writing.
  • Envision a larger or ongoing body writing project to serve as a container for the work of the class.
  • Create pages toward your eventual draft.

Zoom Schedule

 Class will meet for 2hrs per week, on April 9th and April 16th from 5-7pm Eastern. Our sessions will include craft talks, group discussions, and generative prompts with synchronous writing time.

Weekly Syllabus

Week One: Finding Your Body

When we write about bodies, we write about the literal parts of ourselves that we have in common. There is a privacy relinquished, a common ground created, a material reality that links reader and writer. So how do we do that in a way that is effective, morally and ethically sound, protective of our own mental health and dignity, and, dare to dream, profound? Let’s discuss, starting with the essays and excerpts that we read in preparation.

  • Intros and overview
  • Febos, Lima, Ramey, Ratajkowski reading discussion
  • Craft talk on body writing ideals
  • Honesty: craft talk and writing exercise
  • Precision and Accuracy: craft talk and writing exercise
  • Restraint: craft talk and writing exercise
  • Walkthrough of independent work

Week Two: Body, Meet Page

This week, we’ll continue delving into the body writing ideals that we outlined last week.

  • Check in
  • Vivid Detail/Plainspeak: craft talk and writing exercise
  • Care: craft talk and writing exercise
  • Belc, Norris, Sabatini Sloan reading discussion
  • Craft talk on physical culture
  • Writing exercise on physical culture
  • Walkthrough of how to continue the work of the class
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Student Feedback for Margo Steines:

Margo embodies a certain intense passion for the work of writing. It feels like she’s right there for each student, a straight forward but kind and knowledgeable partner. This course came at the perfect moment. Carol A Thomas

The course was a joy. I’m quiet by nature, but by the end of it, I found myself not only with the confidence to participate but eager to so do. It was well structured, and everyone was given a chance to contribute. Margo’s knowledge, experience, and empathy created a safe space for discussing sensitive subjects that left me not only more confident in my writing about such a challenging subject but with broader insights into life as a whole. You can’t ask for more than that. James Boud

Margo’s course was expertly structured. Her weekly readings and discussions accumulated into a satisfying intro to the literature. And her essay creation process gave me a draft and a system for making more. Ashley Walker

I found myself inspired by the weekly readings and found Margo’s teaching style to be really effective. I came away from the class feeling like a whole new creative channel has been opened for me. Workshop discussions were lively and the class was engaged. Plus, I left her class with an essay that I’m really proud to have written. Jessica Fiorillo

Margo writes with insight and incisiveness you feel in your gut. Reading her work reminds me that I am human and alive and not alone in feeling what I feel. It’s a privilege to read Margo and also to be edited by her. She’s a thoughtful editor who possesses both empathy and sharp instincts, which do not always appear in the same package. She knows how to ask you thought-provoking questions about your work that lead you to your own solutions. Rachel Reeves, journalist

Margo is an extraordinary teacher, with extremely helpful lectures, writing prompts, and course structure. This was one of the most helpful workshops I have ever participated in. I found her extremely generous and accessible with her time, and she created a class atmosphere that felt respectful and engaging. Highly recommend! Mary Simpson

Margo is a great teacher. Very professional, supportive and knowledgeable. Very sensitive dealing with a difficult topic. She created a warm and supportive Zoom environment for those who attended. Ariela Zucker

April 9, 2024
2 Single-Day Webinars


margo steines headshot


Margo Steines is a native New Yorker, a journeyman ironworker, and serves as mom to a wildly spirited small person.

Margo holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Arizona and lives and writes in Tucson. Her work was named Notable in Best American Essays and has appeared in The Sun, Brevity, Off Assignment, The New York Times (Modern Love), the anthology Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us, and elsewhere. She is the author of the memoir-in-essays Brutalities: A Love Story.

Margo is faculty at the University of Arizona Writing Program and is also a private creative coach and creative writing class facilitator. You can read more about her practices at margosteines.com.