This short and sweet generative workshop will help you expand and develop ideas you already have for personal essays, and come up with fresh, exciting new ones. With a focus on identifying and honing your unique perspective, we’ll dig into what you have to add to the ongoing conversation about whatever topic(s) you want to write about, nailing down the difference between a topic and an angle once and for all.
Through a series of brief brainstorming exercises, we’ll strip away layers of cliché and tired tropes until we find the stories that only you can write. Students will leave with a list of viable essay ideas, and concrete, simple tools to use the next time they feel like they’ve run out.
- A clearer sense of your own unique sensibility and how you can bring it to the process of essay writing
- A list of new essay ideas and a sense of how to expand upon each one
- Concrete, simple tools you'll be able to use again for future writing projects
- Understand the difference between a topic and an angle
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Lilly Dancyger is a contributing editor and columnist at Catapult, and assistant editor at Barrelhouse Books. She's the editor of Burn it Down, a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women's anger from Seal Press; and the author of Negative Space, a reported and illustrated memoir selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the 2019 Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards, forthcoming in 2021. Lilly's writing has been published by Longreads, The Rumpus, The Washington Post, Glamour, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and more. Find her on Twitter here.
“Lilly has an innate understanding of what makes a memoir piece pop, which is evident both in her own writing and in her work as an editor. She is uniquely skilled at helping writers pull out the most interesting angles of their own personal experiences and present them in a way that reels in the readers.”
“Lilly Dancyger is a lovely, incisive writer attuned to the emotional core of a story and the evocative details that bring it out. She’s able to be expressive while smartly avoiding sentimentality, and she's well attuned to structure.”
“Ms. Dancyger understands the craft of the personal essay, how to weave narrative with theme, how to make the personal resonate. She draws the reader into the scene, evoking our senses and emotions.”
“Lilly is a thoughtful, considerate editor who combines her developmental skills with skilled line editing for a holistic editorial approach that makes the story sharper and cleaner, the narrative more compelling, and the piece's purpose clear. Lilly knows what makes a story effective, and how to employ the writing techniques that will sharpen even the best and most vulnerable personal narratives. She's attentive to the writer's needs, and knows how to ask questions that will direct the writer toward the best story possible while retaining their own artistic voice. Lilly's editing helps take the personal essay from personal to universal. It's not often I feel like an editor isn't afraid to give it their all in editing a vulnerable topic, but also isn't hunting for just the most shock value and ‘universally appealing’ parts of a story, all while wanting the narrative to actually be strong, tight, compelling, and effective.”
“Lilly Dancyger is an enthusiastic and passionate instructor. She was well organized and provided a rigorous program for us to follow. Her criticism was honest and constructive.”
“It demystified the writing process a little bit, and made it feel like writing is more tangible, and less abstract – something I could achieve. Ms. Dancyger gave great feedback. She was approachable, engaged, and encouraging.”