Until recently, when I heard the term “essay writing,” I immediately thought of school assignments. Then my friend Patrice Gopo started working on an essay collection that turned into a beautiful traditionally published book, All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way.

Disclosure: Affiliate links have been used in this post

Reading Patrice’s book inspired me to learn more about the process of essay writing, particularly personal or narrative essays like Patrice writes so masterfully.

I had the privilege of listening to Patrice teach on the topic of essay writing at the 2018 Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and my interest was further piqued — but I still hesitated to dive fully into an attempt at writing a personal essay.

Fast forward to 2019, and I got an email from Charity Singleton Craig announcing the release of her new book, The Art of the Essay: From Ordinary Life to Extraordinary Words.

Hearing about this new book felt like another gentle nudge toward experimenting with essay writing.

I replied to Charity’s email right away to congratulate her and to tell her how excited I was to read the book. I then asked if she would be willing to guest post here at Five Minute Friday, and went as far as asking if she would be willing to record a video conversation about the topic of essay writing with me and Patrice — and she agreed!


essay writer

CLICK HERE to order All the Colors We Will See

CLICK HERE to order The Art of the Essay


I so enjoyed the time spent in conversation with Patrice and Charity, and I’m sure we could have gone on for much longer but my Zoom account kicked us off the call because we reached the limit for free video chats.

Nevertheless, Charity and Patrice managed to pack some excellent content and practical advice for writers into the 30-minute conversation below.


essay writing


In our video conversation below, I asked Patrice and Charity:

  • What misconceptions do many people have regarding essays?
  • How would you describe or define a personal, narrative essay? In other words, what makes an essay an essay?
  • Could you describe your own process of essay writing from start to finish?
  • What advice would you give to a writer who is interested in experimenting with essay writing?


Hope you enjoy the interview!


If you can’t see the video above, click here.


Prefer audio only?
Listen to the interview here: 



What is a Personal Essay and Where Do I Start? 

{Guest post by Charity Singleton Craig}


If you listened in, which parts of the conversation were most helpful for you?

Have you ever experimented with essay before?

What goals can you set for yourself based on the advice that Patrice and Charity share in the interview?



Patrice GopoPatrice Gopo is a 2017-2018 North Carolina Arts Council Literature Fellow. She is the author of All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way, an essay collection about race, immigration, and belonging. Her book was a Fall 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Visit patricegopo.com/book to learn more.

Facebook: @patricegopowrites
Instagram/Twitter: @patricegopo



personal essayCharity Singleton Craig is an author, journalist, and essayist. She is the author of CLICK HERE, a contributor to The Wonder Years: 40 Women over 40 on Aging, Faith, Beauty, and Strength, the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year, and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

Find her online at charitysingletoncraig.com.




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