Journey to the Page: Writing Your Life Stories
Turn memory into meaning in this engaging 8-week interactive online workshop.
Mine your life experiences, memories, and your relationship to your life in writing exercises, essay, or memoir chapters. The more you give shape and nuance to your remembered experiences and the people in your life, the more we are able to make sense of our lives— and give that opportunity to others through our work.
Next session: TBA
Questions about the course? Contact us to learn more!
The online classroom is active and available 24/7, making it the perfect opportunity for writers anywhere in the world to engage in the weekly lectures, writing exercises, and dynamic conversation with peers and instructor any time.
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Events, moments, and stretches of time pass, but capturing them in writing preserves them forever.
Whether you are writing for friends, loved ones, or for a wider audience through publication, writing from your life experiences is one of the richest ways to create a story, and one of the most rewarding.
“In this online life writing/memoir course for all writers, we work with true-to-life stories from your past and present. Like a message in a bottle, you take your material- a particular experience you want to revisit and share (the message)- tuck it safely into a form (the bottle), and throw it (style) into the world.” Alice Neiley
Your learning is structured so each week has different writing assignments on memory-jogging topics ranging from love to home to family. Readings from a variety of writers who have explored memoir and life writing will serve as examples from which you’ll model your writing or use as triggers: Kathryn Harrison, Frank McCourt, Patti Smith, James Baldwin, etc., and we’ll discuss how they structure and style their stories. We read the masters of the genre to learn from the best.
In the workshop, you’ll share your writing with the group and the supportive, constructive comments and feedback spark conversation and further inspiration. These short exercises serve as the building blocks for your final personal essay (which also may wind up being the beginning of a longer piece).
How Is this Workshop Different from a Fiction Workshop?
While fiction is or can be entirely fabricated, nonfiction stories, essays, and memoir are designed to speak to true events and relationships for a purpose and at the same time must be just as readable as fiction with plot, character, and setting sculpting the telling of the piece. Braiding together writing craft and staying true to the events and relationships as they actually occurred requires very careful sculpting and attention:
- Ensuring you’re speaking as accurately to the events and relationships requires research: jogging your memory by using prompts, photos, interviews, and other memorabilia in order to take detailed notes on your life.
- Considering not only what happened, but why the events in your life are important to share and to what end is vital to the nonfiction project so you bring to the page your life within a limited frame in order to find clarity, purpose, and possibly even closure.
- To mindfully bring them into story, essay and memoir, the real events and people will need to be organized as if they were fictional story elements, using the available craft tools of plot, character, and setting to tell those stories.
- You will have to identify how you factor into your memories and relationships and use your purpose for relating these events with distance in order to write from a level of inquiry, and to identify human nature and ultimate meaning from the events and relationships.
Nonfiction is one of the most exciting- and saleable genres- for a reason. Readers feel identified and heard through writers’ sharing their true-to-life events, thoughts, and feelings. Being able to take yourself into story, essay and memoir is extremely exciting work.
Highlights of the Workshop
- Size matters (at least in a workshop!): we purposefully keep our workshop enrolment limited so each participant has ample opportunity to engage with one another and the instructor, getting detailed comments and suggestions on the work submitted.
- Collaboration is key: Over the course of the workshop, as the instructor and fellow writers get to know your work, they will be able to specifically target those issues you care about most and help you toward the goals you’re striving to attain, celebrating and helping you enhance your natural voice and views.
- The online format makes the workshop part of your daily life, something that becomes part of your writing practice and everyday activity, making it an effective and highly productive experience.
How the Online Workshop Works
- After enrolling, you will receive an email with some information about your workshop. A few days before the workshop is to begin, you will receive your username and log in information for our secure online classroom.
- Once the course begins, you will have unlimited access to your secure online classroom. Log in any time to enjoy ongoing conversation, post work and feedback, and download materials from the instructor and fellow students 24/7.
- The class takes place according to a weekly structure: each Monday, the instructor posts lecture and conversation notes, readings, and other pertinent information. You can take the full week to engage with the materials and enjoy the ongoing connection and chat any time.