Upcoming Classes

Classes at the Grotto

Grotto instructors in the Rooted & Written program. Writers Grotto classes are all taught by seasoned professionals who have been published in their field.

COVID-19 UPDATE:  While COVID-19 guidelines prevent our gathering in person, the Writers Grotto is pleased to be able to offer our full slate of courses via the online platforms Zoom and Wet Ink. The listings below indicate whether each class is held synchronously (via Zoom), asynchronously (via Wet Ink), or in a hybrid mode, utilizing both platforms. Please wear a mask, practice social distancing, and if you’re looking for an outlet during your time at home, check out the upcoming classes below or our current slate of write-ins. Stay well!

Under normal circumstance, most of our classes take place at the Writers Grotto, 490 Second Street, second floor (near the corner of Bryant), in downtown San Francisco. Our space is near South Park, and an easy walk from BART.

Grotto classes are taught by working professional writers who have been published in the subject they teach. At the Grotto, only published novelists teach novel writing, only published memoirists teach the memoir, etc.  Our screenwriting teachers have seen their work come to life on the big screen. It’s a distinct approach, and perhaps why we’ve been voted Best of the Bay Area by San Francisco Magazine. Come to us when you’re ready to take your work to the next level. Browse our current course offerings below.

To find out about upcoming classes, subscribe to the Grottoletter, our monthly newsletter that includes writing tips from our teachers, recommendations for books about the craft of writing, and what we’re reading now. And join our Writers Grotto classes Facebook page for special news and discounts.

Early enrollment is strongly recommended [passive voice, consider reworking this sentence], as course offerings frequently sell out.

By registering, you agree to abide by the standards of the Writers Grotto: integrity, respect for others, and responsibility for your actions. The Writers Grotto reserves the right to cancel the registration of any individual who does not observe this code of conduct.

Check out our full list of upcoming classes below, or check out these categories:

Laird Harrison

THURSDAYS, OCT. 22 — 29 |Your opinion matters. You have taken the time to research an issue and think it through. Now how can you get the word out to the people who need to hear it? Newspapers, magazines, and websites are looking for well-reasoned essays. But their criteria are very different from the ones your college English professor used. In this three-hour course, you will learn the basics of writing an essay or op-ed for publication. You will write your own opinion piece, then submit it for critique by the instructor and peers so you can polish it for publication.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Laird Harrison has published opinion pieces in Salon, The Nation, and the San Francisco Chronicle among other publications. His journalism has appeared in Time, Reuters and Smithsonian. He has taught writing at San Francisco State University, U.C. Berkeley Extension and Mediabistro. He is the author of the novel Fallen Lake.


Number of sessions: 2

Contact: lairdharrison@gmail.com

Dates: Thursdays, October 22, 29

Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $85

Take some time for your writing this fall with a series of virtual write-ins hosted by the Grotto. Led by one the Grotto’s many talented and accomplished writers, each of the sessions below provides 90 minutes of space and guidance in which to get your creative energy flowing, generate new material, bring old material up to snuff, and just make contact with the community of writers that is the Grotto, our teachers, and our students.

Choose one or more of the sessions below, and show up for generative exercises designed to help instill confidence in your writing, shift your focus and get you out of a rut, document the emotions and experience of challenging times, and more. Writing prompts, craft tips, timed exercises, accountability—you’ll encounter any or all of these as you write in community with your fellow narrative artists and learn from our writers about what has worked for them. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in virtual community!

Write-ins are held every Wednesday from 12:00 noon to 1:30pm, and every Friday from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Click the “show details” button beside each session below for instructor bios and contact information.

All write-ins are held via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom login information.

Questions and information: grottoclasses@gmail.com

Dates and times: Wednesdays, 12:00pm – 1:30pm; Fridays 6:00pm – 7:30pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $25


  • Friday, October 2, 6pm, with Celeste Chan (diy.queer.arts@gmail.com)
  • Wednesday, October 7, 12pm, with Mary Ladd (writereadeat@gmail.com)
  • Friday, October 9, 6pm, with Jesus Sierra (chiche415@gmail.com)
  • Wednesday, October 14, 12pm, with Celeste Chan (diy.queer.arts@gmail.com)
  • Friday, October 16, 6pm, with Eleanor Vincent (epvinceiam@yahoo.com)
  • Wednesday, October 21, 12pm, with Mary Ladd (writereadeat@gmail.com)
  • Friday, October 23, 6pm, with Laird Harrison (lairdharrison@gmail.com)
  • Wednesday, October 28, 12pm, with Mary Ladd (writereadeat@gmail.com)
  • Friday, October 30, 6pm, with Celeste Chan (diy.queer.arts@gmail.com)

Audrey Ferber


“My pencils outlast their erasers.” — Vladimir Nabokov


Have you “finished” a story or personal essay that you know needs more work but feel unsure of how to proceed? Do you need feedback, encouragement, and the structure of a group to get back to work? In this class, we will workshop stories and personal essays with feedback aimed at bringing your piece to the next level. We will practice in-class writing exercises targeted at specific skills needed to advance your stories. We will read short stories and essays by masters of their genres to analyze approaches to language, character development, and forward motion. You will leave class this class with a clearer idea of how to revise and produce your next draft. Each student must bring a draft of a story or essay to work on.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Audrey Ferber’s stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in the New York Times, LILITH Magazine, Cimarron Review, Persimmon Tree, the AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. She received an M.F.A. in Writing from Mills College. Audrey has lived and taught in San Francisco for many years but still feels like a New Yorker at heart.

Contact: audreyferber@gmail.com.

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: October 28; November 4, 11, 18, 25; Dec. 2

Time: 2:30 – 4:30 pm Pacific time

Course fee: $350

Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato

THURSDAYS, OCT. 29 — NOV. 11  |  Living in times marked by relentless and intersecting crises, the serious writer must ask, “Where is the literature that responds to this astonishing moment?” Our goal for this class is to answer the question by crafting our own, by writing crisis. This introduction to the art of writing the prose of crisis—memoir, journalism, different genres of fiction and science fiction—(and poetry if there’s interest) will begin by looking at the crisis in literature that has created the vacuum that we will fill with our own work, including one piece we will polish in the course of our sessions. The course will include the following:

  • Close readings of writing that exemplifies the art of writing crisis, analyzing the choices—structure, tropes, imagery, language, characterization—that these writers make.
  • Taking our lead from classic and contemporary writers of crisis, we will engage in generative writing exercises designed to apply what we’re learning.
  • Worshops / sharing works-in-progress with other participants and the instructor.

Each writer in the class will leave with a writing crisis toolkit developed by the instructor. You will also leave the course looking at writing and at crisis in a different way. You will leave with an enhanced ability to respond to this unprecedented historical moment with the words and stories it demands.

This course is open to students of all levels.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Note that this class meets two Thursdays (Oct. 29 & Nov. 5) and one Wednesday (Nov. 11).

Roberto Lovato makes a living as an educator, journalist, and writer based at The Writers Grotto. He recently authored Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas (Harper Collins). A recipient of a reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center, Lovato has reported on war, violence, and terrorism in Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Paris, and the United States. Until 2015, Lovato was a fellow at U.C. Berkeley’s Latinx Research Center and recently finished a teaching stint at UCLA. His essays and reports from around the world have appeared in numerous publications including Guernica Magazine, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, The Millions, Foreign Policy magazine, the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, Der Spiegel, La Opinion, and other national and international publications.

Contact: robvato@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 3

Dates: Thursdays, October 29; November 5, and Wednesday, Nov. 11

Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm Pacific time

Course fee: Early-bird discount: $225 through October 21; $250 thereafter

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