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December 27, 2016


At the end of 2015, inspired by fellow writer friend Sarah Dohrman, I decided to challenge myself to write a personal essay a week in 2016. Why?

I wanted to confront my own ego and this perfectionism thing I have that’s been self-sabotage for so long. I did this for me. To push myself. To surrender to mystery. To write and reflect on my life more publicly. I just posted essay 52 last night.

Some essays came out of me like waterfalls, easy and quick. Some didn’t. They were like pulling hair and pummeling. I walked out of them feeling battered, but I never regretted writing them. I’m convinced that the only way out is in.

I can say that this challenge has fed my work in so many ways. The weekly essays have helped me chronicle the process of writing my memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and have helped me process the emotions that have come up. I’ve learned how to surrender and that is so necessary for this writing life. I opened myself up to stories that I never dared write or that I’d written over and over, and demanded a new perspective, new insight, new energy. And the challenge made me write when I didn’t feel like writing. Inspiration is great but you can’t always wait for it to come knocking. Sometimes you have to grab it and go. Sometimes you have to be your own inspiration…

Over the past few weeks I’ve been mulling over continuing the challenge in 2017. My bruja sister Lizz Huerta (a fierce writer in her own right) encouraged me to invite people to take on the challenge with me. I thought, “Hey, why the hell not?” So I posted it on my FB a few minutes ago and people have responded with enthusiasm and fear and hope. Who knew?

I had a writer reach out to me a few weeks ago to ask why I did it and if I thought about publishing the essays in lit mags, etc. I told her, no. That I did this for me, and I’m so glad I did. Yes, some of the essays have been picked up by lit mags. I’ve gained thousands of followers. People have reached out privately to thank me. I even had someone stalk me and flip out. I still don’t know why but that’s not my shit to carry so that’s okay too. I deleted her messages without reading them. I’m not here for that. Again, I’m doing this for me, no one else. Still, apparently this has inspired people and pushed people to write, and that’s a wonderful development…so I’m inviting people to take on the challenge with me in 2017. Let’s hold one another accountable, shall we?

What are the rules?

  1. This isn’t about producing a polished essay. This is about surrendering to process. This is for you, no one else.
  2. There is no word limit. It can be as short or as long as you like. Just try to dig into the stories. Why is this coming up? What is it you’re not saying? What is it you want to say? Why? Dig!
  3. Create a blog if you don’t already have one (there are tons of options including,, etc.) and post the weekly essay on your blog. You can make it public or you can keep it private. That’s really up to you. The point is to write. If you decide to make the essay public, please post it on the #52essays2017 FB page, and don’t forget to tag the essay with the hashtag: #52essays2017.
  4. You have to post an essay a week, which isn’t easy. I have missed a week here or there but posted it later, usually not past the following Monday. If you miss a week, okay. Don’t beat yourself up. Just try. Push. Write. Then post it. 

I think that’s it for now but I reserve the right to add rules as we go, but only to ease or put some order to the process. The point is to write. Let the stories come and write them down. Vamos!

If you’re in and want to correspond about it, email me at Let’s do this, fam!

  1. I am taking up the challenge, ya es hora. Happy New Year. Carmen from Unleashing Your Inner Chingona

  2. Shovel (pen) in hand, already started a draft for next week.

  3. I’m considering!! But I have a question. do you differentiate between an essay and a blog post since you publish them on your blog? And how would you distinguish the two?

    • There have been tons of articles about the difference between blogging and essaying. I write personal essays that I post on my blog. I do not consider myself a blogger. I am a writer of creative nonfiction which includes personal essay and memoir writing. I can post this on my blog and it still be considered such.

      • That’s so interesting. I consider myself both a longtime blogger AND an essayist. Do you think blogging has a “lower status” or that you use a different part of your brain? I feel like some pieces that I write feel more like blog posts and others feel more like essays of creative nonfiction. Does it have to do with level of intention/revision? Is it possible to write a spontaneous essay? I’m just asking myself all of these questions. Also, what’s the difference between “posting an essay on a blog” and “blogging?”

  4. Kelley permalink

    I’m looking forward to writing essays with you all in 2017.

  5. C. Robbns permalink

    I’m in. I like obsessive goals,

  6. stephieann8 permalink

    I’m going to join in this challenge!

  7. I want to do this. Kind of scared, but I really want to. I’m in.

    • I get it. I was often scared when I wrote my essays in 2016, and when I’ve worked on my memoir… Here’s the thing: I lean into the fear not away. 🙂

      • So your advice is dive headfirst into the unknown and just do it! 🙂
        Funny you know, because for physical things I’d be all over that…personal and writing scares me; it’s one of the reasons I don’t perform poetry often no matter how I love it

  8. Okay, I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool!

  9. I’m in. And already I’m finding myself scared shitless not for fear of being judged but just being aware of the stuff inside that I haven’t let myself explore. Which is why I’m in. I have only one question: What’s my deadline? What day of the week does it need to go up by?

    • Hello MC. This challenge is for you. You decide that day you post. As long as you have an essay up per week, you’re good. Don’t forget to join the FB group. It’s great for support, accountability and connecting with folks. Good luck and mucho amor! ~V

  10. debscarey permalink

    I’ve currently got three blogs on the go: one professional (for my life coaching business) and one ficion-writing collaboration and, as a result, my original personal blog has got a tad lost and become a bit bitty. I do book reviews and blog about reading competitions, but have struggled with developing what I thought would be regular opinion pieces. But this personal essay challenge chimes. I know it does, because I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach. So, I’m in too, although it won’t be my wordpress account which will host this!

  11. I’m In. I have never written a blog before so this will be a first for me.

  12. I’m in!!! This challenge scares! There is the commitment to write regularly, which I need and want! And the prospect of digging deep. It scares me. But I know that I need to do that

  13. Thanks to my friend Alejna for sharing this with me, I am in for 52 essays. Thanks for creating this challenge and community!

  14. This morning, when I nestled my mug of coffee in my hands, enjoying the coolness in the air and running the day’s must-do chores along with work commitments in my head, I thought, I should also make it a point to journal in my diary, as I used to. When I received Laura’s newsletter, I whooped with joy. I am looking forward to joining you, and will be writing on one of my blogs. ♥ Thank you for the inspiration and motivation.

  15. Indigo permalink

    I’ll be participating this year as well 🙂 Thanks for the great challenge!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. I’m in!! #52essays2017 – Knockturnal Emissions
  2. The Imposter | The Stress-Less Student
  3. #52essays2017 | S. Andrea Allen
  4. 2017 Won't Blow and Here's Why | Jen's a Little Loopy
  5. May Auld Acquaintance Please Be Forgot | Raivenne-lations
  6. #52essays2017 | vital endeavor
  7. Bread, with First-Date Spinach Soup – ReadingWritingLiving
  8. I'm a failure (and I couldn't be happier) #52essays2017 - Diane Lee
  9. Wrapping up 2016 and looking at 2017
  10. What emotion is in the driver seat?
  11. Hello, New Year – Karen Pickell — Between: A View from the Space that Separates
  12. Week One: “23” | Cory writes
  13. Relentless Files Week 54 (#52essays2017 Week 1) | Vanessa Martir's Blog
  14. writing goals for 2017 | collecting tokens
  15. THIS IS THE YEAR I PUBLISH #WFW2017 #52essays2017 #52risks – Alicia Anabel Santos
  16. Hello World! – Irasema Gonzalez
  17. Our lady of broken pheromones – Screwball Heroine
  18. Are you up for the #52Essays2017 Challenge? - PSST! PH
  19. There’s No Place Like Home – Cooking with Elsa
  20. You Must Remember This | Raivenne-lations
  21. Things I’m Verbing: Expendable courtiers, boring dictatorships and the end of life – Esther Bergdahl
  22. Notes from 20 years of life online #52essays2017 - Buttontapper Press
  23. Writing My Life
  24. Claps and Cheers: The Power of Personal Niche-tivism – Women Who Submit
  25. The Voice of the Turtle, essay 3 of #52essays2017 - Dr. M. Leona Godin
  26. Mucking around in the Mess of Inauguration Day – Heart – Head – Hands
  27. The power of one #52essays2017 - Diane Lee
  28. Anatomy of a crush (Version 1) #52essays2017 - Diane Lee
  29. Relentless Files — Week 56 (#52essays2017 Week 3) | Vanessa Martir's Blog
  30. Week Two: Ululations are Female Sounds | corywrites
  31. Ode to the Most Difficult One | corywrites
  32. Open Letter to an Anonymous Evaluator or Girl, What You Gon Do Now? (Essay 3/52) | Asha French
  33. 28. Unconscious aquascape – #52essays2017, No. 2 | musings
  34. 29. On legitimacy – #52essays2017, No. 3 | musings
  35. When Twitter Inspires a Story that You Haven’t Told in a Long While – Cooking with Elsa
  36. Journey into smell: from Hannibal to Aromatics (essay 4 of #52essays2017 - Dr. M. Leona Godin

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