University of Iowa

An Essay in a Week

Weeklong July 15 to July 20 2018

I love the personal essay and want to help you write one. Or at least begin to write one. This workshop is about generating new material. In a week of exercises that will help us tap our memories, find our form, and begin to revise, we will write a draft of an essay, and find the material and techniques that will help us write many more. I’ll lecture some about various kinds of essays, you’ll write and read a bit each night, and we’ll workshop our drafts. If scenes are the building blocks of essays, reflection is the mortar. We’ll talk about how to use both more effectively.


An essay is more than an anecdote (though it might start as one). An essay is something that’s more ambitious, layered, and universal. Getting to a final draft requires technical skill but also bravery and innovation. Together, we’ll work through this whole process.