Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

4-Week Nonfiction Seminar: The Personal Reported Essay

A personal experience can pull the reader into an essay and add a human experience to the reported facts on the page. But the act of weaving your personal story into a reported essay is a difficult one and can leave a writer wondering how to achieve the correct balance between the two.

Over this four-week course, we will work together to write a draft of your personal reported essay. Throughout the course, we will examine personal reported articles by other authors—including Virginia Eubanks, Roxane Gay, Erika Hayasaki, John Hendrickson, and others—to explore different approaches. We will brainstorm ideas for topics for your essay as a group, and I will also provide personalized feedback.

In the final class we will explore how to get your story published, focusing on how to write and pitch to various publications. We will also have editors come talk to the class about the types of personal, reported essays that they are currently looking for.

Students can expect assigned weekly readings from a range of authors, weekly discussions and a supportive group to discuss issues that are coming up for you in the writing process. I will provide individualized feedback on potential ideas, a draft essay and pitch for your personal reported essay from this course.

This class is open to writers with all levels of experience writing personal essays, opinion, or reported essays. Writers will leave this class with a draft of their own personal reported essay as well as a better understanding of how to approach these essays in the future.

*No class Jan. 16

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- Learn how to analyze personal reported essays to discover the style and balance you’d like to bring into your own writing

- Constructive feedback from me and your classmates on your essay ideas, one draft, and a pitch for the draft

- Discover how to bring your voice into reported essays

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


- Read assigned writings and be prepared to discuss your thoughts in class

- Brainstorm and discuss your story idea with the teacher and the class

- Submit a draft of your personal reported essay (maximum word count of 2,000 words) and an accompanying pitch to the instructor

- Engage and collaborate with other students and the instructor; it sounds cliché but it’s true – we can all learn from each other!


Week 1: Introductions, syllabus, discuss goals and reservations.

Week 2: Review of Personal Essay and Reported Essay.

Week 3: How to Achieve the Right Balance in Your Essay?

Week 4. How to Write a Pitch, Where to Pitch and any remaining questions. 

Katie C. Reilly

Katie C. Reilly is a freelance journalist and attorney based in the Bay Area in California. Her writing generally focuses on women's health, mental health and parenting. Katie's articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Elle Magazine, The Boston Globe, Women's Health, Newsweek, USA Today and HuffPost, among other publications.


“Katie C. Reilly's writing distills the beauty, fragility, difficulty and wonder of what it means to be alive at this moment in history into clear-eyed, evocative and poignant essays. She tells personal stories that simultaneously feel both intimate and universal and thereby offer the rare gift of allowing the reader to learn about themselves while learning about her.”

Noah Michelson Editorial Director at HuffPost

“Katie deftly wove together her personal family history with ALS with that of another woman experiencing a similar diagnosis. She seamlessly alternated between her own story and the other woman’s, while incorporating statistics and important context for readers, resulting in a well-crafted, cohesive, and satisfying read. I admire Katie’s ability to mine such a deeply personal story in her professional writing. Readers will surely benefit from and relate to her important work.”

Kayla Adler Deputy Editor at Elle Magazine

“Katie Reilly has that elusive ability to write about the particulars of her own life in ways that feel universal. Her generosity and openness, combined with journalistic skill, is something all editors wish for in a writer. The idea of Katie passing this rare skill down makes me very happy!”

Meaghan O’Connell Features editor at Romper

“Katie Reilly has a generous approach to editing, always searching for ways to strengthen the writer’s voice and the reader’s experience. She has a keen eye for finding the sweet spot where personal essay and research intersect—a skill that makes a writer’s work stand out. As an editor, Katie offers valuable feedback rich with specificity and direction. She is not one to waste words or time and approaches a story with intention, pushing other writers to get to the heartbeat of their story.”

Jessica Ciencin Henriquez writer and author of the forthcoming memoir IF YOU LOVED ME YOU WOULD KNOW

“Katie asks thoughtful probative questions and provides honest feedback that helps me to effectively focus my writing. She recommends additional nonfiction readings that inspire deeper connections in my own work. Most importantly, as an effective listener she creates a safe writing community that encourages sharing, risk taking and is fun!”

Tara Van de Mark Writer & editor

“Katie and I recently spent a significant portion of our time discussing published articles and workshopping our own ideas. Katie was always prepared and proved to be an engaged, attentive listener. She was very supportive in our group discussions, finding positive things to say about our everyone's ideas while also giving thoughtful, constructive feedback. These qualities make Katie a wonderful writing teacher, especially for a class where writers are asked to be vulnerable on paper!”

Mahira Rivers Freelance writer