What's Your Story? Writing the Memoir

Get one-on-one support that leads you through powerful exercises to help you put your story on the page. Whether you're writing for yourself, a small circle of friends, or the world at large, start today! Option 1 is for writers new to this genre. Option 2 is for experienced writers with a first draft in hand, and includes written critiques.

At a glance

What: What's Your Story? Writing the Memoir

When: Start anytime, complete within 1 year

Where: Online

Cost: Option 1: 3.0 CEUs, $200 | Option 2: 9.0 CEUs, $495

Instructor: Julie Tallard Johnson

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For additional information, contact Christine DeSmet: 608-262-3447

Course outline PDF

Everyone has a story! What’s yours?

This class is about YOU and your story.

Have you always wanted to write your story but didn't know how? Do you already have a body of work, perhaps a collection of essays or even a memoir manuscript in hand, but it's not ready to go out in the world? Or maybe you have a great story but you want to fictionalize to protect those you love. Wherever you are in your life or on your writing journey, these new online self-paced courses offer you a unique opportunity to work one-to-one with an experienced autobiographical writer, teacher, and mentor.

Memoir vs. autobiography

Unlike most historical autobiographic life histories, memoir is a sub-genre of autobiographical writing that focuses less on historical dates or an entire lifetime, and more on digging deeper into your own perceptions and experiences while covering a shorter period of time.

Many of today’s newest and hottest literary voices got their start writing memoirs. In fact, there is a whole movement of ordinary people leaving their personal written legacies for loved ones in the form of memoirs, picture books, and even audio/visual recordings.

What’s the best way to tell your story?

Both options of this course will cover the secrets, risks, and rewards of successfully writing your life story. You will learn how to use powerful writing tools that will help you sift, winnow, organize, and transform your life story into art.

Here are some important topics that will be covered in your lessons:

  • The fallibility of memory and how to slant your story
  • The importance of plot/theme and how to structure your story
  • The differences between factual and emotional truths
  • The unique challenges of all writers who want to write their life story
  • The top time-tested tricks to help you write effectively and with ease
  • The use of humor, as well as legal, emotional, and ethical concerns

The lessons include excerpts and examples from a variety of different autobiographical or life story genres. Optional reading suggestions and exercises will guide you along the path that is right for you and your story.

How the course works

You can start this writing course anytime, and there are no required hours to participate. It's all done with one-to-one correspondence with the instructor using e-mail. We have writers from around the world participating in classes. This one-to-one mentoring opportunity will keep you on track to reach your goals.

There are 2 options: Option 1 (basic) for new writers to this genre, and Option 2 (premium) for experienced writers with a first draft in hand. The basic level includes up to 50 pages of your assignments and personal projects to be reviewed with feedback, and the premium level includes up to 100 pages. Before registering for Option 2, please contact the instructor.

Additional support via e-mail and optional meetings are also available as needed by phone.