Essay Incubator

Overview and Goals

This eight-month program, which meets on Wednesday evenings, has four distinct phases. Early in the program, writers will first receive feedback on three to five essays, then in later phases, revise and workshop three essays in hopes for publication. No single type of essay or essayist will be favored. Writers can work on essays that are personal/narrative in nature; lyric/experimental; or reported/journalistic; or in a variety of styles and forms. Students will read widely to deepen their understanding of essay forms and modes; they will also learn how to offer useful feedback and develop the skills to revise their own essays. Writers will also consult in private tutorial with the instructor for two one-hour sessions. Guest writers and editors will visit the class to share their wisdom and advice on publishing, the marketplace and career-building as an essayist. A substantial break between the 2nd and 3rd phases allows writers to work independently on their essays.

There are five major program goals:

---To revise substantially, through a transformative process of reading and writing, three to five essays and prepare them for submission to publications; explore and try out new forms, styles and voices; and to learn strategies for revising your own essays;

--- To study the essay in service to one’s writing goals, and to understand the rich tradition and history of the essay form, and your place within it;

---To understand the publishing marketplace for your essays, create a plan, and engage steps towards publication, becoming a professional writer, and developing a sustainable and productive writing practice;

---To understand craft, how discuss craft, and how to offer feedback at a high level;

---To develop a community of equally committed essayists, receive each other’s support and share in a common sense of purpose.

In service to their revision process, students will share with the class an informal mini-craft lecture related to an issue they are grappling with in their writing. 

In service to the goal of publication, each student will present an overview of a current media outlet, magazine or literary magazine of interest to the class.    

The class will celebrate the completion of the eight-month program with a reading party, and the cohort will also convene at the Muse and the Marketplace conference (April 3rd - 5th, 2020), where each writer will receive a Manuscript Mart session with one journal editor or literary agent (student’s choice) seeking essays, and join the rest of the cohort for socializing and networking.

Applications for the 2019-2020 Essay Incubator are due Friday, August 2nd, 2019, at 11:59PM EST. Apply here!

Find more information about our submission guidelines, instructors, and curriculum

Date of Course: September 2019 - April 2020

Free Open House and Info Session

Thinking of applying? GrubStreet is offering an informal Q&A with instructor Ethan Gilsdorf on June 27th to answer any questions you have about the Incubator, including the workload, the application process, what the program does and doesn’t entail, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else on your mind. Drinks and snacks provided!


The entire cost of the program is $3,995. Tuition is payable in two installments, the first before September 6th, 2019; the second before January 15th, 2020.

Partial fellowships are available and based on a combination of merit and financial need. You can find more details about our fellowships here

See more information about our submission guidelines, instructors, and curriculum


If you have specific questions about the Essay Incubator program, please email [email protected], or call the office anytime at 617.695.0075.