What is the course about?
This course is designed to help you develop your autobiographical writing skills, including how to focus and craft your work. Drawing on diaries, dreams, memories and fantasies, you'll gain an insight into how to compose powerful work in this genre. You will also build your confidence in giving constructive criticism, and in using it to revise or edit your work.
Students like: "the friendly and civilised atmosphere": "real, professional advice on how to approach the writing of an autobiography"; "support from fellow writers"; "feedback and encouragment"; "excellent, informative feedback"; "the tutor was always respectful of difficult issues.".
What will we cover?
Tailored to participants' interests, topics may include:
- How to start writing autobiography
- Different sources of autobiographical writing and lateral approaches to self- knowledge as well as conscious experience, thought and memory
- How to find themes and other ways of unifying your work
- The relevance of fictional techniques to help you dramatise and structure your writing into something which will fully engage the reader
- Use of memorabilia, e.g. photos, diaries, family and official records
- How to approach writing about sensitive or painful areas of your life, and issues such as self-exposure, betrayal and confidence
- The concept of truth or fact in relation to autobiography.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Write autobiographically-based work more effectively and confidently
- Identify and appreciate some of the issues around writing autobiographically
- Provide sensitive, constructive criticism of others’ work
- Evaluate, revise and edit your own work.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
Suitable for people who have studied one of City Lit's introductory classes in autobiographical writing or creative writing. Students will relevant experience outside City Lit are also welcome to enrol. Students will be expected to write outside class and to read their work out to the class on a rota basis.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
- Presentations by the tutor.
- Pair work and group work.
- In-class writing exercises.
- Suggestions for writing at home.
- General class discussion of approaches, technique, issues and skills
- Most sessions will consist of a balance of teaching and students sharing and discussing their work.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You should bring paper, and pens or pencils. You'll need to make copies of work you bring to share with the class; these will be returned to you as soon as the discussion is over.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
City Lit also offers both introductory and advanced courses on autobiographical writing.
All students are invited to join us at City Lit Talks Back, our monthly performance night for City Lit writers. Everyone is welcome, admission is free and there's no need to book in advance. Students are also encouraged to submit to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.