personal essay

Transforming Everyday Events into Memoir Moments 1

AT ITS CORE, writing is about finding meaning in the mundane. That’s why some of the most satisfying and universal personal essays and stories spring out of completely ordinary events. You don’t have to have climbed Mount Everest or overcome a deadly disease to have something interesting to write about. […]

My Takeaways from the San Miguel Writers’ Conference 8

“[The plot] of personal essay, its drama, its suspense, consists in watching how far the essayist can drop past his or her psychic defenses toward deeper levels of honesty.” – Phillip Lopate LAST WEEK, I had the privilege of attending the twelfth annual San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference. I confess, […]

Writing About Domestic Violence 25

Since October is Domestic Awareness Month, I want to help bring awareness to this issue while offering ways to write about how violence affects each of us personally. It’s not a subject we like to think about. And when it happens publicly, as recent viral videos have shown, those of us […]

Memoir vs. Legacy Writing and Why You Might Want to Do Both 4

A confused student recently asked me about the difference between legacy writing and memoir. “Aren’t they pretty much the same thing?” she wanted to know. “Aren’t they both just writing about life?” “Well, yes and no,” I said. Not the clearcut answer she probably wanted. Yes, they are both forms […]

Why Your Stories Matter 5

When my mother left behind a lifetime of letters and journals, she thought it likely that no one would read or care about what she had written. I know because she wrote as much. But she was wrong: I cared, and have read most of what she left behind. Her […]

Blogtalk: From Journal to Personal Essay

Sheila Bender’s recent series of posts over on The Heart and Craft of Writing blog demonstrate how freewriting can help you get started writing personal essays. Like the journaling prompts I offer here, Sheila’s essay writing prompts ask us to open ourselves to exploration. She explains that writing an essay […]

BlogTalk: Memoir, Journal Writing, and Story 6

As I was in the process of developing my new workshop and soon-to-be course, Journaling for Memoir Writers, I spent time revisiting all the reasons for journaling that reach beyond the cathartic. Not that there’s anything wrong about writing for catharsis—it’s just that journaling often gets pigeonholed, as if it’s […]

BlogTalk: Personal Essay and Memoir–What’s the Difference? 11

Sharon Lippincott’s recent post, “What’s the Difference Between an Essay and a Story?” brings up an important topic for creative nonfiction writers. I’ve had many discussions (friendly arguments) about the distinction between the two forms. According to Lippincott, Story and Essay are two ends of a spectrum. She says, “We […]

Blogtalk: From Journaling to Essay and Memoir 8

If you’re a regular Writing Through Life reader, you know that, in addition to the Weekly Journaling Prompts, I also write and teach about Journaling for Memoir. Recently, I guest blogged on the topic for NAMW and Sharon Lippincott’s site, The Heart and Craft of Life Writing. I also post […]

Colorful journal with pen