Writing Your Memoir – Three Months
Turn your life experiences into a compelling narrative and hone your writing skills in an inspiring and supportive environment.
Over three months, bestselling author of The Language of Kindness Christie Watson will teach on key elements of memoir writing, including how to map out your story, create vibrant characters that are true to life and leap off the page, and dramatise scenes to place the reader at the heart of the action. This will be an intensive and immersive course with weekly teaching sessions in London, during which Christie will lead lively, dynamic discussions as well as workshops.
I found this course to be the most useful I have done over many years. Each component of it was well-targeted and very professional…It was a great vehicle for going more deeply into specific aspects of my work-in-progress.
Christie Watson's first non-fiction book, The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story was a number one Sunday Times bestseller. Her second, The Courage to Care: A Call for Compassion was published in 2020, and her next memoir, Quilt on Fire: The Messy Magic of Midlife will be published in July. Christie has also published two novels, including the Costa First Novel Award-winning Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. A registered paediatric nurse for 20 years, Christie is now patron of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation. She spent most of her career in paediatric intensive care in large NHS hospitals.
Photography by Rebecca Reid.
What does this course give you?
- Live teaching sessions in London: Christie will welcome the group for a two hour class in London on Tues evenings. In the first half, she will teach on a variety of topics, including finding your voice, developing a working structure, dramatising material and mastering dialogue.
- A community of writers: Our selective applications process means that you will be writing your novel in a peer group of 15 students working at a high level. Many of our former students have found their trusted readers with us – and form strong working friendships with classmates which go on long after the course is over.
- Writing workshops & clinics: Across the course, you'll get two dedicated workshops with your tutor and the group centring on material from your memoir-in-progress, Students will be invited to submit burning questions and narrative issues they’re struggling with ahead of time – and Christie will tackle these in her teaching and respond to common pitfalls.
- 1-to-1 tutorials: You'll get two 30-minute, one-to-one tutorials with Christie based on 3,000-word extracts from your memoir-in-progress. Use these tutorials to address your specific concerns about your writing.
- Literary agent and author masterclass: Join a special session with a top UK literary agent and author, they will talk about writing, editing and the submissions process, drawing on their experience of real-life publication journeys. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions.
- Synopsis & agent letter advice: We’ll draw on our expertise to give you the vital ingredients needed for a great synopsis and the all-important pitch letter. Individual feedback will come from experienced members of the CBC editorial team and/or a Curtis Brown/C&W literary agent.
- End of course submission: All students will be invited to submit the 3,000-word opening from their memoir, plus a synopsis, to be shared with the agent teams at Curtis Brown and C&W. This is not a formal submission but a chance to give the agents a taste of your work at this stage. However, when you are ready to formally submit your memoir to agents from Curtis Brown or C&W – no matter how long after your course has finished – the Curtis Brown Creative team will give you guidance and support with your submission. Full information about this free service is provided during the course.
- Alumni services: You’ll be given access to a range of exclusive writing services, available only to the alumni of our selective courses, which you’ll be able to access after your course finishes. These services include individual mentoring, editorial reports on your completed memoir, submission reports on your ‘pitch package’ and coaching from experienced practitioners. Read more about the opportunities available to our alumni here.
Students will attend a live session with insights from a literary agent and published author
All teaching and workshop sessions will take place on Tuesday evenings (unless otherwise stated below). Classes will be held at a central London location (Asia House) from 7pm to 9pm. Date for the Literary agent and author masterclass is still to be confirmed.
Classes may be moved from London to Zoom depending on circumstances, with prior notification to all concerned.
We are passionate about the safety and comfort of our students and continue to closely monitor the ongoing Covid-19 situation – you can read the current version of our Covid protocol here. The protocol is reviewed, ongoing throughout the duration of the course, and our students and staff will be kept fully informed of any amendments made in their interests.
ORIENTATION & COMMITTING: PART ITues 13 Sept, 7–9pm
VOICETues 20 Sept, 7–9pm
THE NUTS & BOLTS OF STORYTELLINGTues 27 Sept, 7–9pm
MAPPINGTues 4 Oct, 7–9pm
SENSORY WRITINGTues 11 Oct, 7–9pm
CLINIC ITues 18 Oct, 7–9pm
The SYNOPSIS (Online)Mon 24 Oct – Sun 30 Oct
PEOPLETues 1 Nov, 7–9pm
DIALOGUETues 8 Nov, 7–9pm
ENDINGSTues 15 Nov, 7–9pm
CLINIC IITues 29 Nov, 7–8.45pm
CONCLUSION & COMMITTING: PART IITues 6 Dec, 7–8.45pm
END OF COURSE SUBMISSIONMon 13 Dec
The course fee of £1,800 per student is payable by bank transfer or cheque. Former students of our six-week Writing a Memoir online course will be eligible for a discounted fee of £1,750. Funds must reach our bank account before the course begins.
Please apply with the first 3,000 words of the memoir you’d like to work on during the course, and a synopsis of no more than a page (both need to be in the same document, as you can only upload ONE file in the application below). Don’t worry too much about the synopsis – we’re just looking for a page that tells us a bit about where your memoir is heading. It doesn’t need to be polished.
The CBC team will select applicants based on the quality of the writing sample provided. The deadline for applications is midnight, end of day Sunday 7 August, and we will respond to applicants by Thursday 10 August.
If you encounter any problems during the application process, or have any more questions about the course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Develop your memoir on this in-person course with expert teaching, tutorials and workshops from bestselling memoirist Christie Watson.