New Class!

Writing and Publishing the Risky Personal Essay

10 Thursdays from 6:00-9:00pm, starting January 15th
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

Heartbreak, death, trauma, abuse, loss, relationships: This is subject matter that's tough to write about well in a personal essay. The effort, however, 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 as to be of little interest to a reader? In this workshop, you'll study exemplary work by essayists working today in a variety of magazines and journals—from to the New York Times and literary quarterlies—to see how these authors do it. At least one essay (and possibly two essays) by each student will be workshopped in class. Via short, weekly required in-class and out-of-class writing exercises, you'll apply some key craft lessons about structure, beginnings and endings, characterization, scenes, and time travel and try formal experiment to practice this in 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 revised and ready for the marketplace. Note: This class is for daring writers.

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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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How to Write and Sell the Narrative Personal Essay
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