New Class!

Writing and Publishing the Risky Personal Essay

12 Thursdays from 10:30am-1:30pm, starting October 8th
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

Heartbreak, death, trauma, abuse, loss, relationships: Subject matter that's tough to write about well in a personal essay, though the effort often yields amazing results. But how to write these essays about dark and deeply personal matter in a way that's not too sentimental, preachy, self-indulgent, insular, or raw? In this workshop, you'll study exemplary articles by essayists working today in a variety of magazines and journals—from to the New York Times—to see how these authors do it. At least one essay by each student will be workshopped in class. Via short, weekly in-class and at-home writing exercises, you'll apply some key craft lessons about structure, beginnings and endings, characterization, scenes, and time travel to your own work. We'll also discuss the idea of psychic distance, tone, and voice. Finally, we'll look at where students might publish their essays once they're revised and ready for the marketplace. Note: This class is for daring writers.

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I am new to Boston, and this was my first GrubStreet class. I wasn't sure what to expect, coming from NY where I enrolled in writing classes in adult continuing education classes connected to MFA programs. This class was fantastic. The instructor was clearly passionate about writing and encouraging of students while also offering helpful and pointed suggestions about crafting an essay worthy of submitting and reassuring about persisting in the face of inevitable rejection.
- Jayne Beker


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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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



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