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


Become a Supporting Subscriber today and get up to 10% off your purchase.

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].

Hear from our Students

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

Read Success Stories


The instructor feedback, readings, and prompts which expanded my creativity. I saw new things that I could successfully do.

Marian Fredal

Education FAQs

  • Will there be closed-captioning or a transcript of the webinar?

    We will provide closed-captioning upon request. Please contact us at least a week prior to the webinar to allow time for scheduling with a captioner.

  • Will I need to install any software?

    The webinar link will prompt you to download the GoTo Opener. For troubleshooting questions, please refer to GoTo Webinar’s support page: https://support.goto.com/webinar

  • What video conferencing program does CNF use for their webinars?

    We use GoTo Meeting. After you register for the webinar, you will receive an email with a link to the class.

  • Is there a preferred browser for viewing the webinar?

    Yes: Chrome tends to work best with the GoTo Webinar software.

  • I’d like to attend a webinar but have a conflict. Will the program be offered at another time?

    Our webinars are usually presented on Wednesday at 2:00 pm Eastern time. We rarely repeat webinars, but we do send out a recording of the program to everyone who registers, and you may watch the program at your conviencence.