Online | Nonfiction | Seminar

4-Week Online Nonfiction Seminar: How to Build a Writing Career with Essays

A personal essay can strike a nerve. It can get people talking. It can open doors to agents and book editors. Many of the memoirs and essay collections sitting on bookstore shelves today began as a single essay published in a widely read column like Modern Love, or on a highly trafficked website like Salon or BuzzFeed or Jezebel. If you're a writer working on a book-length project, one of the best things you can do for your career is distill your unique personal story into an essay that will start a conversation and potentially attract a literary agent's attention. This four-week seminar, led by a writer whose viral essay led to a book deal for her memoir, and a digital editor with years of experience publishing fresh voices, will teach you how to craft an amazing essay and pitch it to a venue where it has the potential to change readers' lives—and your own.

Through in-class writing exercises, engaging discussion, and non-boring homework assignments, we'll teach you how to:

- discover your unique expertise

- master the art of the personal essay

- generate and pitch ideas beyond the personal

- find your audience and capture their attention

- deal with the business side of freelance writing

At the end of four weeks, you'll have:

- a bundle of new essay ideas

- a 1500-word draft of a personal essay, critiqued by Leigh

- two complete pitches, vetted by Laura

- new insight into online media and the path to publishing 

This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.

Laura Feinstein

Laura Feinstein is a writer and editor covering the intersection where art, technology, and global culture meet. Currently Senior Web Editor at Departures Magazine, she's previously held staff editor positions at Fusion, GOOD Magazine, and VICE, and has contributed to such diverse publications as The Guardian, T/The New York Times, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Salon, Vogue, Paper Magazine, BOMB Magazine, and CityLab at The Atlantic (among others). Based in BK, she's always on the look-out for the new and unboring.

Leigh Stein

Leigh Stein is the author of four books, including the satirical novel Self Care, forthcoming from Penguin in 2020, and the memoir Land of Enchantment. She has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, ELLE, Allure, BuzzFeed, Slate, and Poets & Writers


"I got so so much out of this class. Leigh and Laura completely demystified the art of pitching essays, writing them, and working with editors. I'm already having more success with getting pitches accepted. This class helped me to be a stronger writer all around."

former student

"Although I had a few publications before taking the class, I didn't know why some pitches worked and others didn't. I was throwing darts at a board, blindfolded. This class explained the process, from both a writer's and editor's viewpoints, and offered support and motivation. I appreciate the critique, helpful notes and handouts, the assignments that pushed me but were not overwhelming, and the synergy the class provided. Leigh and Laura were very generous with their 'tools of the trade.'"

former student

"Having Laura as an editor when I freelanced for Fusion made me into a much better writer. I would recommend her class to anyone."

Matthew Rozsa staff writer, Salon