Online: Zoom

Developing Your Personal Essay

6 Tuesdays from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST), starting June 28th.
Online: Zoom
See Map
Level: Intermediate
Adult (18+)
12 seats max
Only 3 spots left!

This workshop is designed for intermediate and advanced essay writers who are already working on personal essay projects and want to receive regular feedback in a supportive and constructively critical environment. The class will include in-depth workshops of student writing, discussions on the art of the personal essay and relevant craft essays, and readings of works in the genre. Each week, we’ll explore a different topic or theme to inspire our work, focusing on elements like questions, conflict, and change; scene-writing; passages of reflection, summary and backstory; pacing and time; form and structure. We will read published examples from authors like but not limited to, Eula Biss, Roxane Gay, Jacquira Diaz, Leslie Jamison, Virginia Woolf, David Wong Louie, Jerald Walker, Ryan Van Meter, Gary Percesepe, Jonathan Lethem, Brian Doyle, Ira Sukrungruang, E.B. White, and Barbara Kingsolver, and studying the craft behind them. We'll also read excerpts from such craft books as Tell It Slant (Miller/Paola); Crafting The Personal Essay (Moore); Writing the Memoir (Barrington) and The Art of Memoir (Karr), and other craft essays. In-class writing prompts will encourage students to try their hand at different elements of personal essay writing. You’ll present drafts of at least 2 essays to the class (or more, depending on enrollment; 5,000 words maximum per essay); these will be shared ahead of time and will receive oral feedback and optional written feedback from your fellow students, and written and oral feedback from the instructor. Feedback will be designed to guide your drafts for the next revision. By the end of the workshop, you will have received feedback on drafts of 2 essays, and better mastered the genre and craft elements of the personal essay. Note: Since the content of personal essays often reflect intimate issues, controversial views, and real-life situations, we will ensure that conversations around the work and its content take place in a safe, supportive, and respectful space.

NOTE: class does not meet on July 12th

Class Format

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -


grubstreet Image
Ethan Gilsdorf
See Bio

Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Workshop
  • Lecture
  • Class Discussion
  • Reading Homework
  • Writing Homework


  • Personal Essay
  • Literary Journalism
  • Nonfiction

Commitment Level



Need a scholarship?

Learn more