NOW IN LOS ANGELES BY POPULAR DEMAND!
Check back for future L.A. dates
Why A Private Workshop:
Here’s the thing about the personal essay. Get it wrong and you can be branded a solipsist, a whiner, a shameless exploiter of yourself and others, or, gasp . . . confessional. Get it right and you can touch readers in ways they didn’t think were possible—and change the course of your writing career in the process.
I've been lucky enough to forge a career around the personal essay. Part of this is due to timing. When I started out there were no comment boards, no social media, no bloggers ready to rip my work apart before they’d even read it. As a result, I took risks in my writing. Without constantly looking over my shoulder in anticipation of criticism or a Twitter smackdown, I was able to wrestle with sensitive topics and express complicated and often controversial ideas. I was able to develop a recognizable voice that got the attention of editors and resonated with readers.
In the years since, I've had the privilege of helping hundreds of students find their own voices, excavate their most original and daring ideas and tell their stories with the kind of energy, honesty and craft that will help take them to the next artistic and professional levels. Now I'm offering that guidance in private, weekend-long workshops at my home in New York City as well as in Los Angeles.
Who It’s For:
Intermediate to advanced writers. These distinctions are difficult to quantify, but it would be great if you’ve spent at least a few years thinking seriously about your writing and doing as much of it as you can. You need not have published, but a desire to be published in the future and a familiarity with the workshop format is a plus. (You’ll be expected to have read your classmates’ submissions and come prepared with constructive, thorough feedback.)
Space is limited space and the class is admissions based. Please send no more than 20 pages of personal writing along with a note explaining your creative and professional goals.
What You’ll Get Out Of It:
Think of this as a workshop combined with an extensive, free-ranging and highly interactive craft talk lead by me (plus maybe a special guest or two.) It is not “generative,” which is to say that other than a few short exercises you will not be generating any new writing on the premises. The goal is to come out of the weekend with new ideas and a roadmap for making your essay not just publishable but also a game changer for your career and your sense of yourself as a writer.
Your essay will receive a solid hour of discussion in the workshop format. As fruitful as that discussion should be, it’s my experience in courses like these that inspiration is just as likely to happen during spontaneous conversations as during workshop discussions. So think of it as one hour of focused critique of your essay and 15 more hours of fascinating and equally fruitful conversations with fellow writers (sense of humor is a must, by the way).
The weekend includes a restaurant-catered dinner Friday evening, plus lunch Saturday and Sunday. Coffee, soft drinks and snacks available at all times.
Private home in Los Angeles. Studio City area.
May 18-20, 2018 Friday 6-9pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-4pm
$1800 per person, $300 deposit required upon acceptance
How to apply:
Application deadline April 16 (notification by April 20).
Application is simple: Send no more than 20 pages of personal writing along with a note explaining your creative and professional goals.
For more info, click the contact button to the left. To go ahead and apply, email your submission and note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meghan Daum is the author of four books, most recently the collection of original essays The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Centre Award for Creative Nonfiction. She is also the editor of the New York Times bestseller Selfish-Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids. She was a recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim fellowship and a 2016 NEA fellowship. From 2005 to 2016 she was an opinion columnist for The Los Angeles Times, to which she still contributes occasionally. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Vogue and The Atlantic, among other publications.
Meghan is a member of the adjunct faculty in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. In the spring of 2017 she was the Bedell Distinguished Visiting Writer in the graduate Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa. She has taught essay and memoir workshops at The Aspen Writers’ Festival, The Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference, The Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop, and The New York Times School of Education among many other places.
From 2016 to 2018, Meghan wrote the Egos column in The New York Times Book Review. This column reviewed new memoirs and taught her a lot about what works and what doesn’t when writing about oneself. (Lesson one: sometimes a personal essay does the job far better than a whole book could ever do.)
The inaugural personal essay workshop took place in February 2018 to great success. Here's what students had to say.
Meghan's workshop was an incredible experience for me. The group feedback on what I'd written would've been useful on its own, but collectively editing the essays of my peers—restructuring or refocusing them, helping each writer discover the piece she needed to write—was equally instructive. Further, the insight from Meghan and two special guests, both of whom have thrived in publishing, gave all of us a deeper understanding of the mechanics of publishing a book, as well as some essential tips to find our own version of success. I've already sung Meghan's praises to various friends in media; if you're in need of some focused time and attention on the essay or book or reflection that's bursting out of you, I can't recommend this workshop highly enough.
-- Caty G, Brooklyn, NY
Meghan Daum is the teacher/mentor every writer hopes to work with. She has a gift for understanding the essence of each writer’s work and for helping writers shape their narratives. Her weekend workshop was filled with talented and supportive writers who immediately connected with each other. I am so fortunate to have worked with Meghan. My writing benefitted enormously from the direction she gave me and I emerged from the weekend with bonds to a wonderful group of fellow writers.
--- Melanie A., Haworth, NJ
It was a wonderful experience to be part of such a collaborative, intimate workshop. In addition to really digging in to projects that we were working on and the technical craft of memoir and essay writing, it also covered the more practical elements of publishing: how to query, what agents and publishers are looking for, and the current market for personal essays. I found all of it incredibly valuable.
-- Meghan L., Chicago, IL
I've been a long time reader of Meghan's work and jumped at the opportunity to take a workshop with her. The experience was invaluable to me as a professional writer and I walked away feeling more confident and inspired. I'd highly recommend this workshop for writers of all levels who want to learn more about the industry and receive specific feedback on personal essays.
-- Megan W., New York, NY
The workshop was everything I hoped it would be and more. I have to admit I was intimidated by the fact that I seemed to be the only unpublished "non-writer" in the room, but Meghan gathered such a wonderfully talented group of women, each in her own phase of work, that I was fully distracted away from my own inadequacies and instead learned a tremendous amount from everyone. Even if it is never published, Meghan and the others gave me exactly what I needed to make my essay something that I will always be proud of.
-- Monica H., Hoboken, NJ
I've been a fan of Meghan's writing for years, and I was thrilled to be a part of her first private workshop. Meghan is a truly excellent workshop leader, coaxing out the real story in my and everyone else's pieces. She's supportive, funny, smart, and engaging--pretty much everything you want in an instructor. Don't miss the opportunity to work with her!
-- Carin M., Portland, OR