Do you want to take your memoir writing to the next level?
So you’ve started to write your own life story, but you want to take it to the next level. Life stories have resonance for others and are a gift to be shared. This intermediate memoir writing course builds on the expertise acquired as a beginner writer, providing more depth and a wider range of reading and approaches to memoir.
You’ll be exposed to a wide variety of memoirs told through a range of forms – from memoirs written in first person, or even second person point of view, to memoirs told in snapshots, experimental montage, and even graphic memoirs.
Monday 12 February 2024
18 weeks (please see course schedule below)
On this course you will learn to…
- Consider different forms of memoir
- Explore themes of grief, illness and other areas of difficulty
- Identify moments and memories that have shaped you as a person, and you might want to include in your memoir
- Tackle your own vulnerability and how to harness this in your memoir writing
- Examine stories from different points of view, and how to experiment when structuring your memoir
- Explore your relationships with others, and discover the difference between memory, truth, and perspective.
Why study with National Centre for Writing?
National Centre for Writing has been supporting writers to develop their craft for over 25 years. Our online tutored courses are developed in partnership with University of East Anglia, home to the prestigious School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing, which boasts award-winning alumni including Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan and Anne Enright. Our course tutors are all published writers, many of whom have studied or taught at UEA themselves.
While there are many online courses available to you across the world, ours are unique in offering:
- One-to-one feedback on up to six assignments, directly from your course tutor
- A tailored learning experience with 15 students maximum
- Flexibility to progress through the course anywhere, any time
- Support and structure to develop a writing routine
- Skills and knowledge to improve the craft of writing
- Confidence in your ability as a writer
- Opportunity to join our NCW Alumni, an international network of like-minded writers and translators.
I have really enjoyed this course. The materials were excellent and the tutor feedback was so helpful. I feel I have learned such a lot and my writing has definitely improved as a result. I would really recommend this course to others.
Module one – Beginnings
Memoir is often a literary form that is about the past – remembering childhood, or some earlier time or event in our lives. This can make knowing where and how to start difficult. In this module, you’ll explore using the ‘here and now’ as a trigger for self-exploration and remembering.
Module two – The Self and the World
In this module, you’ll explore settings and locations, from the houses you grew up in to the landscapes that shaped you as starting places for telling your story.
Module three – The Stories that Shape Us
In this module, you’ll explore the ways other stories – from fiction, film and television have shaped who you are and how you understand the world and how to acknowledge this in your writing. Dodie Bellamy’s essay explores her feelings about the death of her mother: the work is considered and gentle but it is also precise and you may wish to concentrate on The Boy That Books Built as an alternative.
Module four – Hard Times
In this module, you’ll explore the different ways writers have worked with grief, illness and other kinds of difficulty and how to look after yourself if you choose to narrate difficult moments in your life. The texts this week deal with grief and the experience of loss of a parent, and the experience of pregnancy and pregnancy loss. If these texts aren’t suitable for you, Jenn can recommend alternatives.
The preparation to write prompts this week are optional – as is the giving feedback to these prompts. By all means engage fully, but if you prefer to do this weeks preparation in your private journal, that works too.
Module five – Risk and Responsibility
In this module, you will explore the risks and responsibilities you must engage with as you write about others, and memoir’s relationship with remembering, authenticity and truth-telling.
Module six – Finding a Structure and Editing for Voice and Shape
By now, if you’ve done all the mid-week writing prompts and submission exercises, as well as keeping your writing journal, you will have a substantial amount of draft text. You’ll also have received five lots of personal feedback that have included suggestions in ways you might want to shape and develop your work and lots of comments from others about what is working best.
In this module, you’ll consider options for structure and processes for editing those drafts and using all that feedback.
There will be two live sessions for this course, which will take place via Zoom.
Timings for these live sessions will be confirmed shortly.
How does this course work?
We have partnered with digital learning platform Teachable to host our self-paced courses. The platform is accessible across a range of devices, simple to use, and does not require any specialist equipment.
We want to make sure that you get the most out of our tutored online courses and feel confident that you’re choosing the right course. Each course contains a mixture of teaching content, reading to prompt discussion, writing exercises for you to hone your skills, and group and one-to-one feedback.
Click to read more about how they are structured and what equipment you may need.
How to apply
Apply this course today — places are on a first come first served basis and limited to a maximum of 15 students to ensure a tailored experience. To apply, we ask that you submit:
1. A 500-word sample of your work
2. A one-paragraph introduction to yourself.
Email [email protected] to apply. Please format your email’s subject line: ‘[your name] application for Memoir’. Applications are assessed and places are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. Application deadline 5pm BST on Monday 5 February 2024.
You can pay for the full course upfront today, or by instalments. For details of our instalment plan, please email [email protected].
Jenn Ashworth was born in Preston and studied at Cambridge and Manchester. Her novels include A Kind of Intimacy, The Friday Gospels and Fell. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. In 2019 she published Notes Made While Falling, a memoir told in a series of essays. Her latest novel is Ghosted: A Love Story. She is a Professor of Writing at Lancaster University.