How to Write a Personal Essay (That Stands a Chance)

writing in mexico2The live event has now passed. Purchase the digital recording of the webinar and its handouts by paying via Pay Pal below. A compelling personal essay transports the reader into the writer’s life and offers up a chance for the reader to see her own life anew. At its best, the personal essay is a form that illuminates the universal in the individual, that wrestles with the questions that haunt us all.

But, before you’ve written an essay that’s done all that, you’ve written a first draft resembling the scribblings of your teenage journal.

So how do you get from here to there? How do you transform your draft into something publishable, something compelling? Something that might have a hope of moving readers the way you’ve been moved by writers like Roxane Gay, Junot Diaz, Kiese Laymon, Cheryl Strayed, Leslie Jamison, and Ann Lamott?

In the class How to Write a Personal Essay (Sunday June 10th at 11am Pacific), I will guide you through the steps of writing, editing, and submitting a personal essay (that stands a chance of getting published). I will share in this two-hour webinar everything I possibly can about how to write that essay you’ve been trying to write (or avoiding writing altogether).

Buy Now ButtonTo register, pay $49 via Pay Pal now. Shortly after receipt of payment, I will send you a confirmation. (The confirmation email is not automated so “shortly after” means “after I see your email.) The live event has now passed. You can still purchase the digital recording of the webinar and its handouts by clicking on the Buy Now button above.

How to Write a Personal Essay will cover:

  • How to generate material compelling to both you and your readers
  • How to build up that material step-by-step into a essay
  • How to revise your opening paragraph so it catches an editor’s attention
  • How to build a story and an argument
  • How to land the final paragraph
  • How to find markets for your essay
  • How to write a zinger pitch

Webinar participants will receive:

  • A packet of recent example essays
  • A formidable list of publications currently seeking personal essays
  • Examples of actual pitches
  • A recording of the webinar
  • a Power Point slideshow with detailed instructions for writing a personal essay

Webinar format:

100 minutes of live instruction plus 20 minutes Q &A.

How to Write a Personal Essay starts at 11am Pacific Time on Sunday June 10, 2018.

author photo 4How to Write a Personal Essay Instructor: Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (And a Guide to How You Can Too (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over (Crown, 2008), which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a 2008 Top Pick for Reading Groups and as a Target “Breakout Book.” Her personal essays have been published in the New York Times, New Mexico magazine, The Establishment, The Rumpus, ParentMap, Happenmag,, Alligator Juniper, Huffington Post, and numerous other places. See examples here. An award-winning instructor, Nestor has taught for the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education program since 2006 and also teaches at Hugo House in Seattle. Nestor has produced a number of writing retreats, such as the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat, Bird by Bird & Beyond, and the Black Mesa Writers’ Intensive, featuring keynotes from Anne Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg. You can follow her on Facebook here and on Twitter @theopnestor.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does it work? At 11AM Pacific Time on Sunday June 10th, you will log into the GoToWebinar webinar by clicking on the link emailed after payment and registration. Even self-proclaimed technophobes have said they found the user experience of the GoToWebinar classes pretty straightforward.

The logistics: Shortly after you pay the class registration fee, you’ll be sent a confirmation email with a link to register on the Citrix webinar page. Citrix (GoToWebinar) will then send you a link for the course. Just before 11am on June 10th, you will be able to click on the link to enter the class. If you miss the class (or want to watch to it again), the recording will be available for you to watch at your convenience.

What if I miss the class? Shortly after the live webinar has ended, you’ll receive a link to a recording of the webinar, which you can watch anytime.

What if I know I can’t attend the live event but want to ask a question during the Q & A? Register for the class and email Theo your question at

What if I want to ask a question about the class before I register? Email Theo at

Can I pay via check, money order, or Venmo? Yes, email Theo at for instructions.

Can I purchase recordings of Theo’s other webinars via Pay Pal?

Yes! See details below.

Shortly after completing your purchase via Pay Pal, you will receive an email with a links to the recordings. (The email is not automated so “shortly” means “as soon as I see your email.”)



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