The New York Times is a powerful place to launch your story into the larger world, but the how-to’s for publication can seem mysterious. This course will demystify and breakdown the process, helping you sense and craft a story authentic to you. We will study the shape and techniques of successful NY Times personal essays by column (including Well, Parenting, Letter of Recommendation, Modern Love, Solver Stories, and more), and participants will write, receive editorial feedback, hone the ability to give skillful feedback to others, and will learn the protocol for successfully submitting their work.
Participants will have the opportunity to workshop an essay and a revision of that same essay in the course, leaving with clear directions for revisions moving forward and a plan for submission. This course is best for those with some experience with workshop-style classes, and students are encouraged to enroll even if they don’t have a concrete essay idea in mind to begin with. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with the instructor for one 30-minute phone or Zoom meeting to talk through questions and essay goals.
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.
- Leave with one workshopped essay through constructive, focused instructor and peer feedback on one essay submission and one revision
- Have a deeper sense of what makes personal essays compelling and a good fit for various Times columns
- Understand best practices for submissions
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students can expect weekly readings from various New York Times essay columns with pointed elements to look out for, and the responsibility of reading classmates’ work in advance while providing written feedback to be prepared for discussion. Students will write a new essay and revise it once and will receive peer and instructor feedback on both the initial draft and the revised essay.
Week 1: Introductions and discussion of individual intentions. An overview of the New York Times essay, and how to sense the story you need to tell. We will look at a sample essay or two with an eye toward the narrative arc and POV in preparation for our own further writing.
Week 2: Workshop #1
Discussion: Balancing an “arc of change” with flashbacks, balancing showing with telling (building blocks of the journey).
Week 3: Workshop #2
Discussion: Dialog, description and other elements that make your essay shine.
Week 4: Workshop #3
Discussion: Proportions. How do we determine how much of each element (dialog, descriptions, backstory, showing vs. telling) to include in our essays? We will explore proportionality using examples to ground us.
Week 5: Workshop #4
Discussion: The Art of Revision, essay-style
Week 6: Submission best-practices, working with further revisions and laying out the path ahead.
Sarah Herrington is a writer and teacher. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Modern Love, Anxiety and OpEd columns, the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Tin House, Slice, Nylon, Los Angeles Review of Books, Interview, Poets & Writers, O, The Oprah Magazine, and other publications. She holds an MFA from New York University where she was a Goldwater Fellow, an MFA from Lesley University and teaches writing at Fordham.
“I'm so thankful for the searching heart and mind of Sarah Herrington. Each line in her work is a clear path.”
"We’re fortunate to have this intense, imaginative voice rallying us against despair, reminding us that as long as we’re breathing, seeing, loving, and always moving, we’re fully alive and well.”
"Sarah's writing guidance was invaluable. Her notes were insightful and always encouraging. I grew as a writer and a person working with her on my essay."
“The edits and feedback from Sarah's course were both deep and concise and I felt supported to go deeper into my story and self while we worked together.”
"Sarah offers a beautiful blend of supportive community, accessible tools, and time inside words. All goals and souls are honored in this space. Come curious, stay inspired, depart empowered.”