The FREE Writing Experimental Essays Series February Class: What is experimentation in personal essay?

When: February 17th, 7-9pm EST
Where: Online, via Zoom

Many of us were taught to write personal essays in the traditional way, where the events happen chronologically and we tell one story in a straight-forward way. This is not the way I tell stories. 

The people I learned storytelling from, my mother, grandmother and other elders, weaved tales that brought in other stories and memories. They braided stories together. They jumped around. Their stories weren’t chronological and they weren’t linear. 

When I learned to write personal essay, I learned the traditional narrative form, and was required to write in this way. This stunted my storytelling because it was so contrary to how I was taught at home. When I discovered experimentation in personal essay form, my writing opened up. I discovered I’d been “experimenting” for a long time. 

This is the way I tell story: I weave; I braid; I collage; and you probably do too. 

If you braid stories together, yours and your mother’s, your sister’s, your brother’s, you’re experimenting. 

If you’ve created an essay using a recipe, you’ve experimented. 

If you’ve jumped from one time period to another, and circled back, you’ve experimented. 

Experimentation is about messing with form, structure and time. 

In this first class of the Experimenting with Personal Essay Form series, we will answer the following questions: 

  • What is a personal essay? What are the elements of a personal essay?
  • What are the rules of autobiographical writing?
  • Why experiment with form?
  • What do experimental forms look like? 

To register for this donation based class, send an email to with “Writing Experimental Essays February Class” in the subject line. Note that you cannot sign up in advance for all the classes in the series. Registration starts on the first of the month for that month’s class.

Writing Experimental Essays is a FREE/Donation based series brought to you by Vanessa Mártir and the Writing Our Lives Workshop. The classes are scheduled for the third Wednesday of the month, February to June, 7-9pm EST: 
February 17th: What is experimentation in personal essay?
March 17th: What is Flash CNF?
April 21st: What is the collage essay?
May 19th: What is the braided essay?
June 16th: What is the hermit crab essay?

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