Autobiographical writing

Course Dates: 25/09/23 - 04/12/23
Time: 12:30 - 14:30
Location: Keeley Street
Whether writing for self-discovery, testimony or to tell your story, this term-long course explores how to ensure your autobiographical work is both evocative and powerful.
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Full fee £219.00 Senior fee £219.00 Concession £110.00
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Autobiographical writing
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  • Course Code: HW047
  • Dates: 25/09/23 - 04/12/23
  • Time: 12:30 - 14:30
  • Taught: Mon, Daytime
  • Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Nick Barlay

Course Code: HW047

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Finished Mon, day, 25 Sep - 04 Dec '23

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

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.

City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.

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 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.

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.