What is the personal essay?
The beauty of the personal essay is that it dips into many genres. It is a story, an opinion, a work of creative non-fiction. It may be a mini memoir, or a long poem.
It is almost always first person. It usually ranges from 1000-3000 words.
It is your observation, and your experience of the world. It is both intimate and universal. The sensory details and situation will lure and lull your reader, remind them of a time in their own life that evoked similar emotions, creating a connection to your story, reminding them that yes, we are all human.
It is you solving a problem in your life, working through it, and coming out on the other side emotionally richer, enlightened, and somehow changed.
The personal essay is one of my favourite styles to write, edit and coach because I love when stories come directly from our lives – no need to make things up, just a desire to make sense of seemingly unconnected elements. Personal essays rely on instinct and geography and by geography I mean the map of our life.
Stay tuned for a post on how to use the personal narrative to rewrite the story of your life. This is a powerful tool that allows us to choose how we view our lives, and reframe it.
Also coming soon is a list of some of my favourite personal essay writers!
Here's one to get you inspired!