Writing the Short, Publishable Personal Essay: Online

8 weeks online; no live meetings. Class opens May 13th.
Online (WetInk)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

In short personal essays, a little thing illuminates a bigger thing. These essays typically begin with a "hook," tell a focused narrative of a poignant personal transformation, have a strong “I” voice narrator from the start, and provide the reader with some universal take-away or lesson. In this generative workshop, you'll learn how to write these essays. Each week you’ll examine a variety of short (600 to 1,500 word) personal essays from a variety of publications, such as the Boston Globe Magazine "Connections" column; The New York Times "Modern Love" and "Rites of Passage"; Bon Appetit "Healthyish"; WBUR "Cognoscenti"; Psychology Today "Two Minute Memoir"; experimental examples from literary publications such as Hobart, Notre Dame Magazine, The Sun, Granta, Catapult, Brevity; and other examples from commercial, literary and niche magazines, newspapers, websites and journals.

Over our 8 weeks together, you'll write 3 short essays (or 2 original essays plus one revised essay), each modeled after the published example you'll be discussing. Readings, discussion and video lectures will provide insight into the craft, form, structure and other elements that make up these essays. You'll also complete weekly shorter exercises which will let you immediately put into practice what you observe. You, your fellow students and the instructor will offer feedback on your essays. We’ll also cover the nuts and bolts for submitting your work to publications and discuss drafting and revision strategies. By the end of the workshop, students will understand and test of the range of the voices and styles of the short, publishable personal essay, and be prepared to submit them for publication.

*NOTE that while our handy dandy "Schedule" tab states a 6-7pm class time, there are actually no live meetings for this class! Weekly lessons and assignments open each Wednesday. Students will receive an invitation to Wet Ink, our online class platform, before 5pm on the first day of class.


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.


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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Previous Students Say

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


  • Generate New Work
  • Craft Lessons
  • Class Discussion
  • Writing Homework


  • Personal Essay
  • Nonfiction

Commitment Level



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