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"Kathryn was amazing and the course was exactly what I was looking for. Her instruction was clear and her advice consistently helpful. In four short weeks, I felt like Kathryn really "showed me the ropes" and helped give me the encouragement and direction I needed to market my writing.

The best part of my experience was how approachable Kathryn was. The course itself was current and relevant and very helpful, but it was Kathryn's teaching style that made it work for me. Kathryn has a way of relating at a level even a beginner like myself can understand. She was warm and supportive, and her critiques were gentle, sensible, and explained so clearly it was like a light came on every time she caught something and recommended improvement.

I would confidently recommend this course for anyone who wants to market their personal experiences and needs a place to begin."
  -- Sherry Emerson

It's been a few years now since I took Kathryn Lay's "Personal Experience" class, but I think I have never been so productive within such a short period of time as I was then. One of my essays written for the class was grabbed up by the Christian Science Monitor, who published it even before sending me a contract (!); others have found other homes. The lesson to me is clear: take it again.
- Former Student

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Writing & Marketing Your
Personal Experiences

Facilitator:  Kathryn Lay

Workshop Syllabus

 Magazine and book readers like to relate to personal experience stories. Through reading a piece with a problem similar to theirs, they can learn, share the emotion, and feel they are not alone; without being preached at or judged. Whether you have a story worthy of  a "Drama in Real Life" or a humorous look at cleaning the hall closet, your average and not-so-average experiences can find homes in print.  Magazines, books, and anthologies are open to personal experience pieces that teach, encourage, challenge, and make readers laugh or cry.

Week One:  Understanding The Personal Experience Piece

Personal experiences can be told through a dramatic retelling, a humorous or poignant look on what happened, an essay, and more.  You can write your own story or co-write the experiences of others.  How is a 'personal experience' journal different from other types of journals and how does it help you, the writer?  How can you take any experience in your life and make it a saleable piece of writing?  Students will understand what a personal experience piece is and how to find ideas.

Week Two:  Writing Your Personal Experiences

Because it is a personal experience, such pieces can be over and under-written.  How can you step away from a situation enough to write about it in away that others can relate to or empathize with?  How do you include a take-away message for the reader?  Students will work on the process of writing a personal experience piece.

Week Three:  Marketing Your Personal Experience

Do you need to query or send a completed manuscript?  Where can you send your personal experience?  How do you present it to an editor?  Preparing a market list will keep you ahead of the game, even if your manuscript is rejected the first time out. 

Week Four:  Re-slanting and Reselling Your Personal Experiences

Your ideas and stories can find new life even after they have been published. From essays to articles, articles to books, or even nonfiction to fiction, your personal experiences can be re-slanted, rewritten, and resold over and over again. 

Objective:  To know how to find those experiences in your life that can be written for publication and understand how to write and sell them in many forms.

Prerequisites:  None

Suggested Materials:  Recent Writer's Market (see sidebar)

About the Facilitator: Kathryn Lay has had 1600 articles, essays, and stories for children and adults published in magazines and anthologies including Woman's Day, Family Circle, Woman's World, Kiwanis, Chicken Soup books, Guidepost anthologies, Christian Parenting Today, Discipleship Journal, U.S. Kids, Cricket, The Writer, Writer's Digest, Writing-World.com, Writing for Dollars, and many more. Kathryn is the author of Crown Me!, a humour novel for ages 8-12 published in 2004 and the author of Josh's Halloween Pumpkin, a picture book published in 2008.

Registration: Select the payment service you want to use.
Workshop Duration: 4 weeks  

Scheduled Sessions for 2012:


January  16th

February 20th

March 26th

April 30th

May 28th

June 25th

August 20th

September 24th

October 29th

November 26th

December 31st



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Books recommended on this page are not required reading for participation in the course. Required materials, if any, are listed in the course syllabus.

2004 Writer's Market

The Writer's Market is a must for any freelance writer. This year's edition features--in addition to the invaluable listings of 1,400 consumer magazines, 450 trade magazines, 1,100 book publishers, and 200 script buyers--interviews with six freelance writers. You'll find advice on how to avoid the slush pile, and how to write an irresistible query letter.

The Writer's Digest Handbook of Making Money Freelance Writing

This handbook, put together by the editors of Writer's Digest, covers soup-to-nuts terrain for anyone contemplating--or already a few steps down--the road to a part- or full-time living off freelance writing. Topics covered include breaking in (and cultivating editors once you have, tax tips, and even time management so you can get that scribing done. What this book is not is a market guide--there's no contact information in here for editors, magazines, and the like. But this tome will have you more focused, with sights set, when that contact information is on your desk.

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