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Intro to the Personal Essay

6 Weeks • with Carolyn Zaikowski • All Levels

  • Starts Sep 23
  • 375 US dollars
  • Online via Zoom

Available spots

Class Description

Ready to get your life stories out of your journal and into the world? If you want to learn the art of writing personal essays, but have no idea where to begin (or you need a refresher), this course is for you. Over six weeks, you will learn the essentials of the personal essay, and put them into practice by writing your own essays. Each week, we will discuss an element of craft, including scene and summary, reflection, narrator and character, and revision, and study published examples from authors like Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Sy Montgomery, Berry Grass, Joan Didion, and more. To put what we learn into practice, we’ll use prompts and different essay forms to inspire our own drafts. During the second half of the class, you’ll have the chance to workshop and revise at least one of these essays with the entire class. By the end of the course, you will have generated two essay drafts and the insight and inspiration to continue developing your essays. This course will involve approximately 1-2 hours of reading and writing at home per week. WEEKLY BREAKDOWN WEEK ONE: Elements of narrative WEEK TWO: The art of telling and showing WEEK THREE: The essay of ideas WEEK FOUR: The lyric essay and workshop part one WEEK FIVE: The art of voice and workshop part two WEEK SIX: Revision basics and workshop part three INSTRUCTOR CAROLYN ZAIKOWSKI is is the author of two hybrid novels. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared widely, in publications such as The Washington Post, The Rumpus, PANK, West Branch, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics and is currently an English professor and volunteer death doula. ​​

Upcoming Sessions

Cancellation Policy

If you withdraw from a workshop TEN DAYS OR MORE before the start of the class: You'll receive full credit toward another workshop OR a full refund (minus 10%, a transaction fee that is non-refundable and that we would otherwise be charged). If you withdraw from a workshop nine days before the start of the class up until 48 hours before: You'll receive a refund minus 20%. If you withdraw from a workshop less than 48 hours before the start of a class or after the class has begun: We cannot offer credit or any refund. If you are absent on the day of your workshop or miss it for any reason, we are unable to offer any kind of refund or credit. If we have to cancel a class you have paid for, you will receive a full refund, without the service charge deducted. For our full listing of policies, visit www.PioneerValleyWriters.Com, Policies page (under Home). To withdraw and receive a partial refund according to the above, please get in touch with Joy at

Contact Details

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