Writing Personal Nonfiction About What Hurts

Writing Personal Nonfiction About What Hurts

Live Workshop

November 21, 2020, 11AM-12:30PM PT/2-3:30PM EST
$99 Early Bird ($117 after 11/10)

(scholarships offered November 10)

During this seminar for nonfiction writers, we will take a look at writing nonfiction, including personal essay and memoir, about painful subjects.

Questions that we will address include, How do we prepare to write about trauma while doing minimal harm to ourselves? How do we know whether it’s really time to write about something painful? What about the other people that are involved in the things that we want to write about? And how do we keep ourselves from making our nonfiction into a self-absorbed journal entry, as opposed to literature?

If you have general questions about the workshop, such as about content, please DM me at Instagram (esmewwang). If you have technical questions about the workshop (about payment, timing, scholarships, etc.), please email my assistant Chloe at chloe@esmewang.com.

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Scholarship submissions are now closed.


A percentage of revenue from this workshop will go to UnDocufund.org, which is helping to support undocumented migrant workers suffering from the consequences of wildfires in Northern California. I’ve dealt with the wildfire smoke firsthand all summer this year, and I know that it’s much worse now than it has been in years past.


“Your discussion of creating scaffolding, of using notebooks to nurture and grow responses to images, these and more, but most of all your gracious, inclusive presence have made a palpable difference to me. I feel a renewed and new sense of purpose and agency in relation to my writing process.”

Joan F.

“The level of professionalism combined with sincerity immediately put me at ease. As someone just starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know and your workshop answered questions I didn’t know to ask. I also deeply appreciated the attention to accessibility for various learning styles and sensory needs. Having a live transcript in addition traditional audio/video made it easier to relax, absorb the material, and just enjoy the discussion.”

Jen M.

“I wanted to express how much I enjoyed this workshop. Your approach and tone was surprisingly warm for a Zoom workshop—it’s such a hard thing to pull off when you don’t necessarily get the immediate feedback on how certain points are landing, and I felt like you pulled it off beautifully, making us feel like we were in the room with you… It feels empowering, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have taken this workshop. I have a feeling it’s going to have an immense impact on my writing process going forward.”

Robin Yang

“Esmé is exceedingly knowledgeable and her teaching style is the perfect blend of calmly explaining every step of the writing process so you won’t be left confused and answering additional questions. She also puts much thought into every answer instead of giving a quick reply – I felt seen, taken care of and special, even though it was a group workshop.”

Navina B.

About Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang with a blue pixie cut, wearing a floral dress, wire-rim glasses and red lipstickEsmé Weijun Wang is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays and The Border of Paradise: A Novel. She received the Whiting Award in 2018 and was named one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists of 2017; she has also received fellowships to Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She has written about a number of painful topics in creative nonfiction, such as involuntary hospitalization, sexual assault, and illness.