Week 1: Branching Points
We’ll learn about guided autobiography and review guidelines including maintaining confidentiality and providing helpful feedback. We’ll discuss this week’s theme, Branching Points, and how to plot those pivotal events on a life graph. We’ll also be introduced to the basics of story structure and get a taste of writing and sharing.
Week 2: My Family, My Self
No matter what kind of family we come from, we can’t escape their influence. This week’s writing homework will be to write a short story that illustrates how you have been influenced by your family or by a family member. Visual and clustering exercises help trigger these memories, as do sensitizing questions. We’ll share our Branching Points stories from the previous week in small groups.
Week 3: My Life’s Work
“Show, don’t tell” is a mantra for writers, but what does it really mean? We’ll talk about ways to “show” through sensory details and devices like metaphor, then turn our thoughts to this week’s theme—your life’s work, whatever it may have been for you. We’ll end by sharing our stories about how growing up in our family may have shaped the person we’ve become.
Week 4: My Body, My Health
This week, our writing theme encourages us to write about an aspect of our physical self that played a role in our personal development and life decisions. We’ll explore concepts of self and comfort levels in self-disclosure. Must memoir be factual? We look at ways in which memoir borrows from fiction, as well as key ways in which it differs, and share stories of our life’s work and what that has meant for us.
Week 5: Coming of Age
Getting older is about more than just the physical changes that happen in our bodies. It’s about how we think and feel about life and others. What have we learned? What do we want next? This week, our learning and writing addresses thoughts about aging, and we'll share what we wrote about how our health or body image may have influenced our attitudes and behaviour in the past and now.
Week 6: Next Steps
In this final session, we’ll take stock of the attributes we have, their origin and how we may be passing our own values onto others. We’ll share our stories about aging and consider where we want to take our writing from here – including various presentation formats.