Writing the Personal Essay | Creative Nonfiction

Award winning essayist Scott Russell Sanders once compared the art of essay writing to "the pursuit of mental rabbits"—a rambling through thickets of thought in search of some brief glimmer of fuzzy truth. While some people persist in the belief that essays are stuffy and antiquated, the truth is that the personal essay is an ever-changing creative medium that

A video to show students embarking on the personal essay (narrative/descriptive writing).

Now as I sit in the soon-to-be-mine apartment allocating space tomy magazines, files and CDs, and go on regular rounds of groceryshopping, that essay is making rounds of its own. As it passesthrough the desks of editorial offices in the hope of finding anequally precious home, it serves as proof that every memory,belief, desire, complaint, apprehension or hunch can be capturedby the writer in what is commonly known as the personal essay.


The Art of the Personal Essay - Writer's Relief, Inc.

Here’a another discussion of the personal essay for a different perspective on it:

While the personal essay can be about almost anything, the memoir tends to discuss past events. Memoir is similar to the personal essay, except that the memoir tends to focus more on striking or life-changing events. The personal essay can be a relatively light reflection about what’s going on in your life right now.


They represent what think, what feel, about a given topic. They represent effort (the word comes from the French , which means ) to communicate those thoughts and feelings to others. In the purely personal essay, however, there is no effort to objectify those thoughts, there is no concealment that this is opinion; no standing behind any mask of objectivity is permitted, no embarrassment is allowed.The personal essay should not simply regurgitate information already contained in the transcripts, resume, etc. It should present a picture of you as an individual. The best way to grab a reader's attention is with a personal story. You might begin with a defining moment from your past, a pivotal occasion, a revelatory experience, or an encounter that shaped or changed you and informed the direction you have taken.