Summer Writing Workshop: Mastering Personal Essays About Family

Cost: $395

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Some of the most impactful pieces of writing are personal essays that dive into all the complexities and nuances of family relationships. They’re also pretty much always the hardest things to write! If you want to craft compelling personal essays about your family without getting caught in the messy middle, this class is for you. This intimate five-week workshop (capped at no more than 10 students) is designed to help writers who are ready to take their essay writing to the next level and get their stories published. Instructor Kerra Bolton is an award-winning writer and filmmaker whose writing has been published on Memoir Land, Ebony, and many other publications. Throughout the course of five weeks, writers will learn to find the most resonant ways to frame their personal essays, develop an engaging writing voice, master the art and ethics of family interviews, incorporate reflection and insight into their work and refine their essays for publication. Each 90-minute workshop is designed to polish your writing skills and push your practice forward. The first half of each class is dedicated to exploring a fundamental aspect of personal essay writing. In the second half, the group will workshop two students’ essays, providing thoughtful and constructive feedback to help you enhance your work. Over the course of five weeks, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of personal essay writing fundamentals, receive practical feedback and leave with actionable steps to get published. By the end of the class, you’ll have a polished personal essay ready for publication.

This class is right for you if…

  • You crave a thoughtful, supportive environment to receive feedback and improve your personal essay writing through practice and critique.

  • You want to publish stories that attract attention and resonate with readers.

  • You’re working on a memoir and want to strengthen your ability to craft smaller, focused personal essays as part of your larger project.

By the end of the class you’ll have…

  • A polished personal essay ready to submit to a top publication.

Writers signing up for this class must have completed a rough draft of a personal essay (1,000 to 3,000 words) by the start date. This is a workshop-based class and all students are required to read and review two other students’ essays each week.

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All Narratively Academy classes are conducted online and accessible to students anywhere in the world.

Your Instructor: Kerra Bolton is an acclaimed writer and filmmaker. Her work has been featured on Memoir Land,, CNN Español, The Times of Israel, New Worlder, Ebony and Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. She is currently working on her memoir, Water in My Bones, and her documentary film directorial debut, Return of the Black Madonna. Both projects trace her epic quest to learn to swim, dive and map sunken slave ships with Black marine archeologists. Bolton produced and starred in Detroit Rising: How the Motor City Becomes a Restorative City, released in 2020. The five-part docuseries followed Bolton as she witnessed restorative justice transform nearly every city sector during a time of racial reckoning. The series was an official selection of the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival, was called “illuminating” by The Mercury News and won “Best Web Series” (2020) at the Cyrus International Film Festival. Bolton is also the CEO and founder of Woodbine Ventures, a transitional career coaching company.

“Kerra has such a compelling story and is full of insight and tips for students no matter where they are in their writing or research journey.” —Pia Hinkle, former student

“Kerra is a brilliant teacher, writer and person, whose guidance will take you to entirely new places.” —Jordan Rosenfeld, freelance editor and author of nine books

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Registration Details: Seats in this class are limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis. All purchases are final and nonrefundable. After signing up, you’ll receive an email receipt confirming your purchase. Prior to the start of your class you’ll receive an invitation to access the virtual classroom and view all class materials.

Questions? Email us at

MORE: Check out all of our upcoming Narratively Academy classes here.

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