Finding Your First-Person Voice

Martha Nichols

Teacher • Editor • First-Person Journalist

I have long believed in the power of personal stories. But with the rise of digital fakery, striving for honesty in personal fiction now feels like a radical act. It’s why I’m devoted to first-person journalism: storytelling that connects a personal voice with a rigorous approach to the facts. It’s why we all—readers, writers, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, podcasters, artists of all kinds—need to embrace true stories that really are true.

See my writing guide First-Person Journalism, follow my podcast—and subscribe to this site to stay in touch.

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Teacher & Author

Martha Nichols

Martha Nichols co-founded Talking Writing, a nonprofit digital magazine. A longtime writer, journalist, and editor, she is a faculty instructor in journalism at the Harvard University Extension School. Her work has appeared in many magazines and news sites, including the Christian Science Monitor; Brain, Child; Utne Reader; Women’s Review of Books; Harvard Business Review; and Salon.

Martha is the author of First-Person Journalism: A Guide to Writing Personal Nonfiction with Real Impact (Routledge, 2022). She is also the editor of and a contributor to Into Sanity: Essays About Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Living in Between (Talking Writing Books, 2019).

Martha Nichols
Into Sanity

A Guide to Writing Personal Nonfiction with Real Impact
By Martha Nichols

Combining journalism techniques with self-exploration and personal storytelling, First-Person Journalism is designed to help writers develop a strong personal voice. It connects subjective experience with factual accuracy, and it's a much-needed textbook for nonfiction writing courses—from feature writing and podcasting to creative nonfiction and memoir. Writers can use the guide on their own, developing their practice as self-aware reporters and questioners.

Into Sanity

Essays About Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Living in Between
Edited by Martha Nichols with a Preface by Mark Vonnegut

In this remarkable collection, 22 writers describe suicidal despair or mania—or coming to terms with a generational legacy of mental illness. Into Sanity includes personal essays by contributors from all over the United States and a preface by Mark Vonnegut, who judged the contest at Talking Writing magazine that sparked these true stories.

The media has paid more attention to suicide risks and depression in recent years, especially after the death of well-loved celebrities. And yet, mental illness remains misunderstood. Into Sanity offers the lived reality. These writers underscore why the stigma makes mental illness so hard to talk about—and why it takes courage to speak up.

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