Autobiographical writing: getting started

Course Dates: 23/07/19 - 01/08/19
Time: 18:00 - 21:00
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Paul Laffan

Whether writing for self-discovery, testimony or to tell your story, learn how to get started and what's involved in autobiographical writing. Explore various resources from diaries to dreams, memories and fantasy.


What is the course about?

How to use your life story as a source for writing.

The Tutor
Paul Laffan is the author of four novels, a book of reportage and has ghosted several works of autobiography. He holds a BA in English Literature from Oxford and an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English from Florida State University in America. He taught writing and literature for six years at Florida State, and has also taught at Birkbeck, Morley College, the Mary Ward Centre and Lambeth College.

City Lit reserves the right to change course tutors from those advertised in this outline. In line with our refund policy we are unable to grant a refund on the grounds of a change of tutor.

What will we cover?

- Your voice and narrative voice
- Structure and Time Line
- Autobiography into Fiction.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Identify your individual strengths as a writer
- Critique and thereby improve your writing
- Participate constructively in a workshop setting.

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

This is an introductory course and no particular skills are required. You will be expected to write in class and to be willing to share your writing with other class members.

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

- Workshopping, ie sharing and discussing your writing.
- Discussing technical issues in the genre.
- Reading and discussing published examples of autobiographical writing.
- Outside of class you will be asked to read material provided and develop writing exercises.

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?

Please bring a notebook and pen or pencil with you to class.

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

City Lit runs a two-term 'Autobiographical writing' course, and experienced students can progress from there to 'Advanced autobiographical writing' and receive feedback on their works-in-progress.

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. Visit for more details or if you're interested in reading your work. Students are also encouraged to submit to Between the Lines, our annual anthology. Learn more at For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Customer Reviews 1 item(s)

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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.

Interesting group of people who met 6 times over 2 weeks and worked hard - engaging well with the task and expertly guided by the tutor. My writing has certainly been kickstarted. Thank you to everyone.
Course Rating
Review by Cait / (Posted on 03/08/2018)
Tutor Biographies
We’re sorry. We don’t have a bio ready for the tutor of this class at the moment, but we’re working on it! Watch this space.

Book your place

Course Code: HW138

Tue+Thu, eve, 23 Jul - 01 Aug '19

Duration: 4 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Full fee: £119.00
Senior fee: £119.00
Concession: £48.00

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.