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Essay Incubator FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this program in person or remote?

The 2024-25 Essay Incubator is a fully in person program at GrubStreet’s Seaport location. That said, there are some class periods when we do meet on Zoom, particularly during the winter months. Also, students who are ill or otherwise unable to attend in person may also occasionally attend via Zoom.

How many hours per week should I expect to devote to the program?

The program can be intense. On top of making time for your own writing — ideally the priority — students spend three hours per week in class. They also need to make time to read each other’s work and write feedback on that work, and read other essays, texts and craft works. All total, you should expect between 5 and 10, and some weeks as many as 15 hours of work. Think of it as going back to school part time or enrolling in a low residency MFA program.

How many essays do I need to have written to apply?

We expect students to already have some proficiency in the essay form and have written a small body of work to focus on in the program, at least 3 to 5 essays minimum. Students should also have experience taking multi week creative writing workshops, ideally nonfiction, creative, nonfiction, personal essay or memoir.

What kind of essays do I need to write in order to be considered for the program?

This program is open to all kinds of essay writers, whether your dream is to publish in the New York Times “Modern Love, a parenting magazine or women’s magazine, or whether your work is destined for literary journals like The Rumpus, the Paris Review or The Sun. Short or long, traditional or experimental, essays of all types are welcome. We do not discriminate or favor any particular kind of essay writing. Our focus is to help guide each writer towards filling the kind of essays they want to write.

Do we spend our time writing new essays or revising existing ones?

You can do both. The expectation is that students are both eager to revise existing essays they have written before joining the program, but also be open to generating new work. Each student can choose how much new writing they want to focus on, but all students are expected to approach their writing with an eye towards revision, particularly seeing their work new and revising it extensively.

Can I work on a collection of essays or a memoir in essays during the program?

Yes! Students may decide to revise and generate individual unconnected essays, but if a student’s goal is to focus on a theme or topic, with the hope of eventually publishing a collection of essays, students may use their time in the program to fine-tune that collection.

Who is the ideal candidate?

The best students for the Essay Incubator are those writers who are eager to learn, revise and revisit their own work, create new work, and be open to a rigorous process of revision. Students should also be dedicated to creating a rigorous, compassionate, supportive and interconnected writing community over 10 months together. Students are encouraged to meet outside of class, attend social engagements and otherwise build bonds amongst each other. What you put in the program is what you get out. Reciprocity is the key. The level of writing experience doesn't matter as much as the quality/potential of your work and your ability to commit to the time investment of an intensive program. You might be more ready than you know (which is regularly the case for many students) so if you are unsure, apply.

Do you have financial aid available?

Yes. For all of our programs there are scholarships/fellowships available. The application for these programs are conveniently included at the end of the program application itself for anyone who needs/wants to add that to their application. Usually scholarships/fellowships cover from 25% to 75% of tuition.

If I am accepted into the program, when is tuition due?

Usually tuition is due a week before the first day of class. However, payment plans are available. Typically, as long as a portion of the tuition is paid one week prior to class start, the remaining balance can be paid in installments with an expected payment completion by approximately the midpoint of the program.

I applied before and was not accepted into the program, should I reapply?

Yes! Most creatives (of all experience levels) need to reapply to opportunities multiple times before getting accepted, so this is a natural part of the process. Previous applicants are strongly encouraged to reapply, knowing that our work often improves over time, therefore our chances of success also improve over time.

Is there an age limit or education requirement for applicants?

Nope. Any adult is welcome to apply, and there are no formal education requirements. While it's best that applicants have had some workshop experience exchanging work with peers/a group, the foremost focus is again on the quality of the work and the community-minded commitment levels of the applicant.

Do you have tips for a successful application in terms of the personal statement or writing sample?

Put your best foot forward. You should include examples of your best work. That may include essays that have been published or unpublished. (Note that having published your work is NOT an expectation or requirement.) In terms of the personal statement, you are encouraged to share your workshop experience, your writing background, your goals and hopes. Since participation in the group learning process and Essay Incubator writing community is one of the most important aspects of the program, use your personal statement to describe how you can benefit from a 10-month-intensive program, but how you can help foster a positive learning environment for you and nine others. That might include describing what kind of person you are, your personality, and what you think you can offer to your future fellow writing colleagues.