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.

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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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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