Friday, April 4, 2014

Writing and Reading Personal Essays

Listening to a choir in Wertheim, Germany prompted a personal essay.

The personal essay appears to be a popular trend, and I hope the trend continues for a very long time. Much of my writing falls into this category. 

What is a Personal Essay?  It's factual but it's also filled with the author's feelings and opinions about a subject. A formal essay will present both sides of a question without bias. In the personal essay, if you have strong feelings about a subject, you can express them freely. It can feature a place you've visited that left you with the kind of emotions that drive you to write. It's written in first person. It's more informal, almost conversational. An example might be The Presence of God which goes along with the picture above.

Where do you publish your personal essays? Newspapers use them as human interest peices. I've had several published in a sernior newspaper. The Christian Science Monitor has a special section where they publish personal essays. Magazines and ezines publish them. Go to your favorite search engine to get many suggestions and guidelines for submitting. Southern Living magazine publishes a personal essay by Rick Bragg on the final page of each issue. Woman's Day published personal essays on the final page of their magazine for a long time but no longer do so. I think it was a mistake to do away with it. 

Why should I read personal essays? There are lots of reasons but one of the best ones I can think of is that you can relate to this kind of writing. You may find yourself nodding your head at some of what is said because you've been there or know someone who has had the same kind of experience. You feel almost as if you're having coffee with the author and listening to him/her tell you about an experience they had. It feels--yes--personal! You can travel around the world reading personal essays that feature travel experiences. Even with all the personal notes in these essays, you're most likely to learn something.

Where can I learn more about writing personal essays? For more detailed information on writing the personal essay, take a look at this article. Sheila Bender is an essayist who has written how-to books on writing essays. Her book Writing and Publishing Personal Essays is an excellent source for those wanting to perfect the writing of personal essays.

A final note:  If you like one of the posts on my blog, please pass it on to others who might be interested. One of my writer friends, often shares this blog with her facebook friends, while others forward a link to their email list friends. It's one way bloggers increase readership and is greatly appreciated.


  1. This is very helpful, I've been looking for places to submit my work. Everyone is asking for personal essays...........I assumed that is what I write, you answered my question. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! Love your blogs, I read every single one of them.. I call you " My inspiration for the day."

  2. Your comment just made my day. Thanks so much for letting me know, Good luck in placing some of your personal essays.