Autobiographical writing: an introduction

Course Dates: 25/02/20 - 31/03/20
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
Location: KS - Keeley Street

This short course explores the basic elements of writing autobiography drawing on memories, diaries, photos, dreams and fantasies with a focus on the forms of autobiography, memoir and the personal essay.


What is the course about?

This introductory course guides students in the basic principles of autobiographical writing, including how to focus and craft your work. Whether you are writing for self discovery, testimony or to tell your story, you’ll learn how to make your writing evocative and powerful.

What will we cover?

Depending on the participants’ interests the course will include some or all of the following:

- how to start writing autobiography
- exploring different sources of autobiographical writing eg dreams, fantasies and lateral approaches to self- kowledge as well as conscious experience, thought and memory
- how to find themes and other ways of unifying your work
- use of memorabilia (eg photos, diaries, family, and official records) where appropriate
- issues such as self-exposure, betrayal, and confidence
- selection of material
- 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 sources and issues around writing autobiographically.
- Evaluate your own work and offer some constructive feedback to others.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Suitable for people with some experience of creative writing, whether or not autobiographical. Some writing exercises will be set outside class and students are encouraged read their work out in class and feedback on the work of others.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Presentations by the tutor on particular topics
Writing exercises in class and suggestions for writing at home where appropriate
General discussion of approaches, issues and skills
Tutor and group discussion of your written work.
Most sessions will consist of a balance of teaching and students sharing and discussing their work.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You should bring paper, and pens or pencils.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work 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.


Customer Reviews 4 item(s)

Write a review

Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

If you want to write fiction or memory based on your own experiences,
this course gives you a great foundation.
Course Rating
Review by Hanna / (Posted on 09/04/2019)
An excellent 6 week course as an introduction or an added incentive to the approach needed for autobiographical writing. The tutor's experience, energy and commitment was encouraging and directional. Highly recommended.
Course Rating
Review by R. Sprinz / (Posted on 27/03/2019)
As a way to have a first go at writing one's own story, jump in; the water's fine!
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 23/10/2018)
It's a wonderful course but be prepared to work hard and individually. Challenging homework. Brilliant teacher
Course Rating
Review by Maggie / (Posted on 16/10/2018)
Tutor Biographies
Nick Barlay

Nick Barlay is the author of four acclaimed novels and one book of non-fiction. He has written award-winning radio plays, short stories and wide-ranging journalism. He has previously taught fiction, life writing and Guardian Masterclasses on writing family history.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

Book your place

Course Code: HW559

Please choose a course date 

Tue, day, 25 Feb - 31 Mar '20

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Full fee: £129.00
Senior fee: £129.00
Concession: £52.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

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Any questions?
or call 020 7492 2717

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.