Hi. I'm Jenna McGuiggan.
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Upcoming Online Classes

I'm teaching two online classes this spring for two great organizations. I'm excited to be teaching my first online class for The Writer's Center, based in Bethesda, MD. And I'm happy to again teach Flash Essays for Creative Nonficiton's online classes. Registration for both is currently open. 


Write Into the Heart of Your Story
March 5 - April 1, 2018
The Writer's Center online classes

 Writing stories from your life is about more than recording a series of events; it's about creating meaning and connection with readers. Whether you're writing personal essays, memoir, or blog posts, how do you write beyond what happened and into the heart of a true story? This course will give participants a treasure trove of techniques to improve their writing, deepen their stories, and connect with readers. Through close reading, writing prompts, and creative exercises, participants will learn how to use the building blocks of writing personal stories, how to create texture and depth in those stories, and how to deal with common challenges that hold us back in our writing.

This 4-week session is part of The Writer's Center online classes. Details and registration ($195) are available here.

Flash Essays 
April 2 - May 2, 2018
Creative Nonfiction online classes

Some experiences beg us to write about them, but we often feel overwhelmed when trying to capture the whole story at once. In this class, we'll explore the art of flash nonfiction and short essays—pieces that tell a complete story in no more than 1000 words. Life is made up of moments: big showy ones and small quiet ones—many of them infused with deeper meaning. Sometimes we can easily articulate a moment’s meaning, but often we can only make sense of it peripherally. In a flash essay, the moment and the meaning must be distilled to their purest essence. Through a series of writing exercises, participants will generate a list of potential essay ideas and identify key details and imagery to help them dig into the heart of those stories. Students will also write up to five flash pieces of varying lengths.

This 5-week class starts with my popular One-Moment Memoirs curriculum and then expands into other aspects of flash essays. Full details and registration are available on Creative Nonfiction's website. Price: $260 if registered by March 12; $310 after March 12.



Free Writing Resources

Exciting news! We're offering a new free membership option in The Word Cellar Writers Guild, the online resource center and community for writers. 

You can sign up right here (no credit card required) and get instant access to resources such as writing prompts, author interviews, interactive podcasts, and community forums where you can connect with other writers. You'll also be able to participate in our virtual Book Club read-along/write-along. (Our current selection is poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, and it's such a fun and inspiring book, whether or not you're a poet.) 

I created The Word Cellar Writers Guild for writers who crave more creativity, more community, and a deeper understanding of the craft of writing. My hope is that it feels like your favorite café, bookstore, library, book club, workshop, online class, and writing retreat all wrapped up in a beautiful virtual home where you can learn, share, and be in community with fellow writers. 

We've offered monthly and annual memberships since 2015, and I'm happy to now offer free "guest memberships" so you can see what we're all about. Come on over and join us! 


Moved to Stillness

My attention span is shot. I find it hard to read a book -- or even a whole article or essay some days. Writing is no better. I write a few paragraphs and I'm bored, restless, distracted (or willing to be distracted). I need to reclaim my mind. My focus. My sustained attention. 

I've been daydreaming about churches, chapels, cathedrals. I have a complicated history with organized religion, but lately I feel the pull to hushed, holy spaces, the kind with wooden pews, stone floors, vaulted ceilings, and preferably candlelight. I don't want to attend a service. I want the silence. 

The author Pico Iyer wrote, "A chapel is where you can hear something beating beneath your heart." 

What beats beneath one's heart? Blood? Breath? Gravity?

Whatever beats beneath my heart -- this is what I crave. I'm seeking silence, solace. The solitude that is not loneliness. Some sort of solution for the way the world seems to be caving in on itself everywhere I look. I'm seeking a personal solstice. Solstice, from the Latin solstitium, meaning "standing." 

To stand. To be still. There is a stillness that beats below your heart. And beneath it all, some story, some song.

I crave a chapel because I'm heartworn and weary. Because I see no separation between the mundane and the holy. Because the world is so beautiful and so terrible. Aren't we all just seeking divine comfort? If I could sink deep enough into the solstice chapel of my own heart, perhaps I could sustain my attention, find sustenance there, be moved to stillness.


Self-Care for Writers (Free Call, Dec. 4) 

Self-Care for Writers: Free Community Call
Sunday, Decmber 4th
4:00 - 5:00pm (ET)

RSVP here

It seems that so many of us writers (and other creative types) are struggling right now. We may feel weighed down by political issues around the world. The holidays may be a time of grief or stress for us (even if they’re also mixed with joy). The roar of social media might make our heads swim. We might be wondering how to stay focused or inspired in the midst of what feels like so much sadness and discord.

I'm feeling the strain, too. One thing that helps me is staying connected to other writers and artists. 

So I'm hosting a free call this Sunday (December 4) called Self-Care for Writers. It's open to everyone at no charge. Let's come together for a simple hour of creative support and encouragement. 

Live Call: Self-Care for Writers
Date: Sunday, December 4, 2016
Time: 4:00 - 5:00pm (ET)
(That's 1pm Seattle; 4pm NYC; 9pm London)
Location: By phone
Details & Registration

I'll share some creative self-care tips. We'll have time to swap ideas and stories and spend a bit of time writing together. This will be a friendly and low-key call, designed to soothe our spirits and inspire our creativity. All writers, artists, and creative types are welcome. 

Full details about the call are available here. This event is presented by The Word Cellar Writers Guild, but you do not have to be a member to attend. This call is free and open to everyone. The more, the merrier. I really hope you can join us. 


Free Teleclass: Writing Masquerade (Oct. 26)

Each month in The Word Cellar Writers Guild, we hold a live, virtual event. This month we're having a Writing Masquerade Teleclass. You can get the class for free with a $37 membership! 

Try The Writers Guild for a whole month for just $37 and be part of this month's exciting event: a live class on the topic of voice in writing(Plus you'll have access to all of our community and educational resources for writers.) 

Come to the Writing Masquerade!

Just in time for Halloween, you're invited to a "writing masquerade" teleclass where we'll play "dress-up" with our writing and explore different facets of our writing voices. 

This will be a fun, interactive workshop about that thing we call writing voice. We'll start by covering a few basics about voice, including:

  • What is writing voice?
  • Do you have to "find" your voice?
  • How do you use it?
  • Do you have just one voice? (hint: The answer is no!)

Next, we'll use a "writing masquerade" exercise to explore our writing voices. By trying on imaginary writing masks, we’ll tap into different aspects of our writing personalities and discover what suits us  and our stories.

We'll end with plenty of time for Q&A and conversation.

This teleclass is suitable for writers of all genres and experience levels. It will build on the writing module "Page Presence: Unleash Your Writing Voice," but you don’t need to have completed that module to benefit from this event.

Can't make the live call? No problem. A recording of the call will be made available to all Guild members.  

The Word Cellar Writers Guild is an online community for writers who crave more creativity, more community, and a deeper understanding of the craft of writing. Resources include educational writing modules, virtual events, supportive community, reading lists, writing exercises, interviews, and more. Learn more and become a member.