A 6-week generative online writing class for crafting compelling personal narratives, guided by Jenny O’Connell.

There are no available registration dates at this time.

Note: This workshop will be held in a live, online format utilizing the Zoom platform.
Class meets on 6 Thursdays, Apr 18, 25, May 2, 9, 16 & 23 from 4-6pm ET.

The best personal essays create empathy, engage the reader with authenticity and vulnerability, and illuminate, through the lens of the self, universal truths that run through us all. The experience of reading—and writing!—personal essay allows us to feel seen, connected, and deeply human. What stories from your life are asking to be written?

In this six-week course, you’ll uncover your most resonant personal stories and take one of those stories from an idea to a polished piece of writing. Together, we’ll explore the ways the identities we hold overlap with the things we most want to say and learn how to focus those ideas into an essay-sized chunk of writing. We’ll read a diverse range of well-crafted personal essays to inspire us, generate pages of essay starts through in-class writing prompts, and choose a story to expand and polish. You’ll learn how to manage tension, find the best structure for your story, write with a compelling narrative voice, and craft vivid scenes.

Students will leave the course with a developed personal essay, polished with peer and instructor feedback. We will also cover the next steps for submitting your work for publication.

This class is for intermediate and advanced writers who want to write, develop, and supercharge their personal stories.

Materials Needed:

A notebook, writing utensils, and your laptop or computer.

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 Workshops 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

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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.