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Review of “Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact” by Roxane Gay on Skillshare

In this review, we'll take a close look at Roxane Gay's course on transforming personal stories into powerful essays and share the knowledge I've gained from the course. Will it teach you to become a master essayist?

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Crafting Personal Essays with Impact on Skillshare: Our Verdict (2023)


4.7 / 5

"Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact" on Skillshare takes you through the art of creating engaging personal essays, where Roxane Gay, a well-known writer and essayist, shares her wisdom. This course is full of reading recommendations and practical tips and is highly recommended for aspiring writers and those seeking to improve their writing skills. It's suitable for writers at any expertise level and is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the art of essay writing.


  • In-depth explanations
  • Plenty of reading recommendations
  • Empowering advice


  • Lack of guidance for practical exercises
  • Could be more dynamic


Have you ever wondered what it takes to turn your personal experiences into powerful essays that captivate readers? Roxane Gay’s “Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact” on Skillshare promises to help you achieve that. But is this course really a good investment, particularly for new writers or those hoping to improve their writing skills? This review is here to help answer that question by taking a deep dive into the world of personal essay writing. We’ll explore what it covers, assess what it does well, and where it could improve while sharing the advice it offers to those ready to learn the art of essay writing.

Table of Contents

Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact” is an online masterclass offered on Skillshare. This course offers a focused look at the art of writing captivating personal essays. It consists of 10 lessons, with a total duration of 1 hour and 1 minute – a bit above average in length for Skillshare courses. The course combines video lessons with practical advice and offers a downloadable editing worksheet, as well as numerous literary recommendations.

The goal of this course is to empower writers to find their unique voice and write essays that make a difference. Throughout the course, you will learn how to start your writing with a clear purpose, conduct thorough research, write and revise your essays effectively, and submit your work for publication. Roxane Gay’s approach encourages writers to take themselves seriously as authors and motivates them to share their passion and make an impact through their writing.

Who is Roxane Gay?

Best-selling author Roxane Gay
Best-selling author Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a writer, professor, and editor known for her honest writing on a wide range of topics, including race, gender identity, culture, and more. She has authored best-selling essays, including “Bad Feminist,” “Hunger,” and “Difficult Women.” Her work has been featured in literary publications like McSweeney’s and Tin House, and she is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and has also written for several projects for film and television.

Who is this course's target audience?

This course is for everyone, no matter where you are in your writing career. From beginners looking to explore personal essay writing for the first time to experienced authors looking to improve their skills, this course is great for a wide range of learners. If your goal is to tell your story, improve your writing skills, or simply explore the world of personal essay writing, Roxane Gay’s course would likely be of help to you.

Course content

Here is a brief overview of everything that Roxane’s course covers:

  1. Introduction: Roxane Gay’s introduces you to the power of personal essays.
  2. Start With Your Why: Roxane stresses the importance of having a clear purpose and using rhetorical tools.
  3. Key Idea: Looking Inward and Outward: This lesson discusses the balance between personal experiences and how they work with the outer world.
  4. Key Idea: When Truth Matters: This section explores truth in creative nonfiction and the importance of being honest.
  5. Key Idea: Read to Know What Works: Roxane encourages learning from other writers through critical reading.
  6. Conducting Research: This lesson highlights the fundamental role research plays in non-fiction writing.
  7. Write Your First Draft: Roxane advises you to start writing without overthinking and helps you create vivid scenes.
  8. Revise Your Work: This lesson is about the importance of revision and seeking feedback.
  9. Getting Published: This section gives you an overview of the fundamental steps to publish your work.
  10. Final Thoughts: Roxane encourages you to share your work and join conversations about writing in your community or online.

What I liked about the course

  • Instructor’s approach: Roxane Gay’s approach to teaching personal essay writing helps break down the process in a helpful way. The concepts of the course are easy to understand, and Roxane makes it clear that writing is not just a skill but a form of self-expression and connection with the world.
Roxane teaching the concept of creative nonfiction
Roxane teaching the concept of creative nonfiction
  • Abundance of literary recommendations: One of the things I loved the most about this course is the lots of literary recommendations provided by Roxane. These recommendations are a great source of inspiration and a great resource for anyone looking to expand their reading list and learn from experienced writers.
Sabaa's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict spreadsheet
Sabaa’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict spreadsheet
  • Being specific: Something that sticks with me is Roxane’s advice on the importance of writing specifically. She eliminates the notion that writing must appeal to a universal audience and encourages you to focus on your unique stories and experiences.
Universality should never be the goal
Universality should never be the goal
  • Empowering advice: Throughout the course, Roxane reinforces the idea that each writer’s voice and personal experiences matter. This is very encouraging and can help you gain confidence as an author, as well as inspire you to share your stories with conviction.
Your voice matters, and your personal experience matters
Your voice matters, and your personal experience matters

What I didn't like about the course

While the course is excellent and well explained, there are a couple of areas where it could be improved:

  • Lack of guidance through practical exercises and examples: Although the course includes exercises at the end of each lesson, some learners might find it challenging to work through them without more instructor guidance.
  • Course could be more dynamic: The course is delivered in a serious style – some might even say humorless – which is not the norm for Skillshare and may not suit all types of learners. A more dynamic approach could make the course even more engaging.

How much does the course cost?

Courses on Skillshare can not be bought individually – they can only be accessed by signing up for a Skillshare membership. The good news? Skillshare offers e-student.org learners a full month free trial if you use our link (if not using our link, there is normally only a 7-day free trial). As virtually all Skillshare courses will take you less than a month to complete, you can in effect take this or any other Skillshare course for free – or any number of courses that you can finish in a month.

Once your free trial is over, the cost of Skillshare is $165 per year, which averages out to $13.75 per month. This gives you full access to all 34,000+ Skillshare courses. But if you're not happy to continue, you can easily cancel any time before your free trial ends – just go to your payment settings in your account.

If you have no need for a free trial, you can instead get %30 discount on your first year by using this special link instead. With this link, your first year will be just $115.50, averaging out to $9.63 per month. Note that this offer is only valid for new accounts, so it can't be combined with the 30-day free trial.

Conclusion – Is the course worth it?

Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact” is without a doubt worth the investment for anyone interested in the art of personal essay writing. Roxane Gay helps empower writers to find their unique voices, connect with their readers, and share their stories effectively, and the abundance of literary recommendations and practical advice are a great addition to the course.

This course goes beyond the lessons learned; it’s about taking action and sharing your stories with the world. If you’re willing to put in the effort and apply the knowledge gained, this course can truly help you make a meaningful impact through your writing. If you have the passion and desire to tell your story, “Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact” is a great starting point.

Now, it’s your time to leave a mark on the world through the power of essay writing.