Webinar

Writing the Ordinary: How to Craft Personal Essays from Everyday Life

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm Eastern

Most of us have only one or two truly “remarkable” life experiences. How can a personal writer continually generate essays when most of life tends to be dull and habitual?

Additional Information

In this webinar, we’ll discuss the essay’s potential to illuminate the ordinary in everyday life. Drawing on classic essays that reflect on mundane pleasures and pains—the joys of driving, the virtues of boredom—we’ll explore how everyday actions we often take for granted can become the sites of rich and enlightening ruminations. The art of such essays involves uncovering larger truths in the minutiae of daily life, causing the reader to see these experiences in a new light. In addition to providing tips for brainstorming subject matter, we’ll examine specific craft strategies, including how to convey an intimate tone, how to establish a connection with the reader, how to deploy the well-crafted anecdote, and how to create the illusion of “thinking aloud on the page.” The webinar will focus on practical and applicable craft techniques, giving participants the tools to begin thinking more expansively about how their experience can be mined for essayistic material.

In this webinar, you will:

  • REVIEW how celebrated essayists have found compelling material in the ordinary texture of life
  • CONSIDER aspects of your life that you may not have considered as potential material for an essay
  • LEARN how to write about mundane activities in a way that connects with the experience of readers and touches on universal truths

There will be time for a Q&A at the end of the presentation.

This webinar is ideal for writers who are looking for ways to write about their lives without relying on extraordinary experiences.

All registrants receive a recording.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Course Presenter

Course Registration

$15.00

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Please Note

It is not uncommon for classes to fill up before the end of early registration, particularly in the last few days before the deadline. If you know for certain that you wish to take a particular class, we recommend registering early. If you'd like to be added to a waitlist for a sold-out class, please email our director of education, Sharla Yates, at [email protected].

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Creative Nonfiction’s online writing classes have helped more than 3,000 writers tell their stories better.

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Testimonials

I enjoyed reading other peoples work and getting feedback about my own work– the handouts/video links and class lessons were also very informative and relevantly paced to the give structural guidelines.

Catherine O’Neill

Webinar FAQs

  • How do I prepare for the webinar?

    We usually open the webinar 3-5 minutes prior to start time (see webinar invite) so you can check your audio settings and make sure everything is working properly on your end. The host will welcome everyone and ask you to introduce yourself and share where you’re joining from in the text-based chat. Participation in the chat is optional.

    The actual webinar program usually gets rolling five minutes after the start time. This is also when the recording starts if you watch the video afterward.

    No one can hear you or see you during the webinar. The only people who are visible and can be heard during the webinar are the instructor and host.

    Audio Settings:
    If you’re unable to hear any sound during the webinar, please look at the bottom left of your Zoom window for Audio Settings, and click the small arrow to check your settings.

    Getting familiar with the Zoom software

    There are several ways to interact with the presenter and other students during the webinar:

    *Live chat

    *Formal Q & A window

    Live Chat:
    The live chat is where you can exchange messages in real time with other students attending the webinar, as well as the instructor and host. Usually your chat visibility defaults to just the presenter/panelists. If you want everyone attending to see your chat message (and most people do), then you need to select “everyone” or “all panelists and attendees” in the chat window.

    How to banish the chat:
    We encourage you to make use of the live chat throughout the webinar because it’s one of the great benefits of joining the live event. However, some find the chat distracting and would like to turn it off. As of today, Zoom doesn’t allow students to disable the chat, but there is a way to effectively “banish” it if you do not want to see it:

    1. Click the Chat icon at the bottom of the Zoom window
    2. When the Chat appears on the side of your window, click the small arrow icon and select Pop Out, which separates the Chat into its own free-floating window
    3. Then, using your cursor, drag the Chat off the side or bottom of your screen

    Formal Q & A:

    All webinars include time for Q & A with the presenter. This will be included in the recording.

  • How can I download the webinar recording?

    In most cases, unless you see the download arrow under the recording window, you will not be able to download the recording. You will have ongoing access to the recording link to view at your leisure. You can download any supplemental materials provided by following the links in the webinar recording description. The recording will be sent to you three days after the live event.

  • I did not receive the recording for a webinar. Can you re-send it?

    Yes, we’re sorry this happened. These messages are sent from “[email protected]” and sometimes go missing. Please email us and we’ll respond with a link to the recording.

  • When will the recording be available?

    We ask for 3 days to send you the recording. If you do not receive it within that time frame, please contact us and we’ll assist you.

  • Can I still register for [x] webinar?

    If the webinar is not marked “sold out,” you can still join.