Memoir and life writing courses

We all have a story to tell and this is where you'll learn how to write it. Memoirs enable us to examine and articulate the memorable moments and events of our lives. Through writing and constructive feedback we will explore how to give form and shape to your major stories and turning points. In small supportive sessions we will form a tight-knit group, exploring the nuances of life writing as a genre, examining the ethical implications, and gaining an understanding of the contemporary field.

Please note that these short courses are held at Goldsmiths college and sell out quickly, so early booking is advisable. Please also note that Goldsmiths is solely responsible for the actual administration of the courses, collection of fees, and everything else to do with the time, place, cost, and so on. Dr Derrig is responsible for the content and the in-class experience.

Support for Persons with Disabilities (provided by Goldsmiths)

Goldsmiths college is committed to providing reasonable teaching adjustments for students with disabilities that may impact on their learning experience. Please be advised that in order to provide an assessment and plan appropriate support they require as much notice as possible and, in some circumstances, up to 3 months. If you are planning to book, or have already booked, onto a short course please contact Goldsmiths Disability Team ( at your earliest convenience.

Please note: Dr Derrig is not able to make adjustments to the teaching space and facilities. Accessibility arrangements can only be made by and through Goldsmiths.

Starting date, Saturday 16 Nov 2019

10-4pm | 4 weeks

Starting date, Saturday 22 Feb 2020

10-4pm | 4 weeks

Starting date, Saturday 23 May 2020

10-4pm | 4 weeks


If you have any questions about these courses please contact

Course Structure

Week 1 - Introductions

In our first workshop we’ll begin by getting to know the group, outlining the structure of the course and the expectations. We’ll explore learning to listen actively, how to build your confidence, as well how to access your imagination. We will also discuss the reading listing and how you can read like a writer.

Week 2 - Creative styles - writing and re-writing. Life writing and ethics.

This week will examine different creative styles. There will be student readings and feedback (for this and the next two weeks), a writing exercise and we’ll focus on the skill of writing as re-writing. We will also explore life writing as a genre with its particular ethical implications.

Week 3 - Structure, voice and voices. Point of view.

We will look at recently published books and how contemporary authors frame their stories. We will explore your voice and other voices , using writing exercises to practice  different points of view.

Week 4 - Memory, truth and recall. Life mapping.

In our final session, we’ll explore the lines between memoir and fiction – asking to what extent we can fictionalise a story without losing the essence of memoir. We will also reflect on our own lives through a life mapping exercise, as well as questioning the pros and cons of publishing and looking at the contemporary market for memoirs.

 At the end of this course you will have:

Increased confidence in and understanding of, yourself as a writer

A piece of writing you can work on for your memoir and to apply for competitions, other courses and for personal satisfaction

The ability to practice a range of life writing skills and styles, as well as feedback on your writing from a range of viewpoints

An awareness of the pitfalls and opportunities of an ethical approach

Knowledge of contemporary memoirs, current life writing trends and the changing nature of life writing