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Writing the Memoir Short Course

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Our Writing the Memoir one-day workshop provides students with a firm grounding in key aspects of writing a memoir.

Why choose this course?

The workshop is most suitable for those new to memoir writing. More experienced writers are also welcome, though should be aware this is an introductory course.

Bring paper and pen and expect to take notes and bring ideas and questions too.

Course overview

If you have a true story to tell and have been wondering how to start writing about it, this introduction to memoir writing workshop is for you.

You will be introduced to a few essential ideas and questions you must consider before starting to write a memoir.

Topics covered

The day will take the form of two workshops. In this time there will be presentations, some theory to discuss, handouts, discussions and some writing exercises. We will be examining one or two key ideas on how to tackle writing about the truth. You will have the chance to read from your work and discuss your ideas in a safe peer group.

Morning writing workshop

  • The five things that make a good memoir
  • Virginia Woolf’s ideas around Moments of Non-Being vs. Moments of Being
  • The difference between autobiography, autobiographical fiction and memoir
  • A chance to write down some early memories

Afternoon writing workshop

  • Telling the Truth
  • The problems of memory and subjectivity
  • Tackling taboo material

Please bring a photograph of yourself taken at a memorable occasion.

  • “ Wish I had taken this course sooner! ”

    Marie Noel

    Former student

  • “ A comprehensive introduction to what it takes to write a truthful, interesting memoir. ”

    Donal Cox

    Former student

  • “ Clear and concise, knowledgeable and encouraging. ”

    Lee Chester

    Former student

  • “ Thorough, comprehensive and clearly presented ”

    Ann David

    Former student

  • “ The course provided me with activities that I can use to improve the quality of my own personal memoir writing and the memoir for publication...I gained a great deal from the course. ”

    Debra Phillips

    Former student

  • “ Helpful and effective. ”

    Athena

    Former student

  • “ course content was great, really interesting, very helpful...Lots of practical tips on how to start with writing my memoir - I have, thanks to the tutor, started putting lots on paper! ”

    Anonymous

    Former student

What will I learn?

What will I learn?

You will leave with a firm grounding in key aspects of writing a memoir and what you will need to consider before embarking on a memoir of their own.

Areas covered will include:

  • What makes a good memoir and why write one
  • How to handle telling the truth in a memoir, the problem of subjectivity and taboo material
  • When you are ready to start writing a memoir
  • How to capture the right tone
  • The importance of the reflective voice and resonance
  • How to getting started with fragments and sketches

Eligibility

Eligibility

Prerequisite knowledge

The workshop is most suitable for those new to memoir writing. More experienced writers are also welcome, though should be aware this is an introductory course.

Bring paper and pen and expect to take notes and bring ideas and questions too.

English requirements

The course would best suit writers fluent in English.

Teaching & assessment

Teaching & assessment

A one-day, seminar-style workshop. Written exercises in class. Q&As with the tutor throughout.

Recommended reading

Recommended reading

  • Scene, Summary and Musing, Judith Barrington.
  • Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art, Judith Barrington
  • What to Look for in Winter: A Memoir in Blindness, Candia McWilliam
  • With the Kisses of his Mouth, Monique Roffey
  • Moments of Being, Autobiographical Writings, Virginia Woolf, Edited by: Jeanne Schulkind and with an introduction by Hermione Lee.
  • Patient, Ben Watt
  • Sketch of the Past, Virginia Woolf
  • This Is Going To Hurt, Adam Kay
  • The Last Act Of Love, Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • The Outrun, Amy Liptrot

Tutor information

  • Robyn Hollingworth

    Robyn is a reformed fashion buyer who has worked with some of the most famous names in luxury design and retail. During her father's struggle with dementia, she took a sabbatical from work to care for him during which time she kept an open and frank diary, which became her memoir, My Mad Dad: The Diary of an Unravelling Mind, Trapeze, 2018. The book deals with themes of caring, love, loss and totally inappropriate humour and will be released in hardback later this year. She is currently working on a novel.

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