Join Jenny O’Connell in a 5-day generative intensive for writing and developing the personal stories you want to tell.

Sep 9, 2024 - Sep 13, 2024

Levels: All
Workshop Fee: $1195
Workshop Duration: 1-week (Monday-Friday)
Workshop Location: On-campus
Class Size: 10

Whether you’re writing a scene from your memoir about the time you tried to climb Kilimanjaro in a hailstorm or a personal essay about your great aunt’s famous pierogies, the ingredients are the same: Compelling nonfiction narratives are driven by passion, character, and action. They engage the senses, dropping the reader bodily into the story. They have a tight personal angle and a strong hook. And they tap into something bigger than all of us.

Creative writing workshops at Maine Media - Photo by Tyler Nix
Photo by Tyler Nix.

Led by Jenny O’Connell, in this five-day intensive, you’ll uncover the stories you want to tell, and take one of those stories from an idea to a polished piece of writing. Through an exploration of creative writing techniques such as sensory writing, setting, character, and voice, you’ll hone the tools that bring stories to life. You’ll draw inspiration from mentor texts, walk the Rockland Breakwater to practice setting and sensory writing and conduct peer interviews aimed at wholehearted characterization and locating the “heat” in dialogue. At the end of the week, you’ll leave with a developed story or memoir excerpt, polished with peer feedback, and a solid idea of the next steps for pitching or submitting your work.

One-on-one meetings with the instructor are available.

This class is for beginner and intermediate writers who want to unblock and/or work on their creative nonfiction stories. 

What to Bring:

Notebook & writing utensils, laptop

Student Testimonials: 

“The instructor was simply fantastic. Jenny O’Connell met and exceeded every expectation I had for my time here. She got us writing right away, expertly covered a huge amount of the writing process in such a short amount of time, and provided a space for us to take chances with our writing and to come together quite quickly as a supportive community. And her critiques were always supportive and spot on.” – Maine Media student, September 2023

“Jenny has a way of helping me get out of my own way. Through her coaching and guidance, I was able to push aside the judge that camps out in my head, and write freely and authentically. She helps me write in my own voice.” – Johanna Sorrell

Jenny is able to create a special magic in her classes: a product of both her multitude of natural gifts and her finely-honed teaching craft. She creates a warm, loving, deeply personal container which, when combined with the varied structure and thoughtfully curated prompts and themes, really lays a potent ground for magic to arise. I did some of my best writing in years with Jenny. She helped me discover abilities and insights I didn’t know I had.” – Mira Manickam

Jenny’s features and essays have appeared in Down East, Maine Magazine, Backcountry, Appalachia Journal, and elsewhere. View Jenny’s publications.

Header image by Tyler Nix..

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Instructor: Jenny O’Connell

Jenny O’Connell is an adventure writer, freelance journalist, creative writing teacher, and outdoor guide from Portland, Maine. Her debut book project, Finding Petronella, traces her 2014 solo trek across Finland following the footsteps of a female legend beyond the Arctic Circle. 

A Maine Literary Award finalist and Pushcart Prize nominee, Jenny's award-winning nonfiction has appeared in Backcountry Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, Down East, SLICE, Maine Magazine, Decor Maine, and Appalachia Journal, among others. Jenny teaches creative writing at Hugo House, Seguinland Institute, and The Telling Room, and presents career seminars for creative writers at Stonecoast, where she earned her MFA. She guides writing-based adventures in Maine and beyond.