Workshops for Writers

There is no shortage of workshops that can help you refine your writing skills. I’ve been to quite a few of them, and I’ll be reviewing them and offering a bit of advice to help you choose the sessions that best meet your needs. In the mean time, here is a quick list of some of the events coming up in June, July and August of this year. Sorry about the lack of formatting; I’ll put it all into a table and link the events into the calendar just as soon as I can.

Programs with Ongoing Sessions

Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Where: University of Iowa, Iowa City

Iowa Summer Writing Festival offers numerous weeklong programs that would be invaluable for memoir writers, including “Telling and Showing – the Effective Use of Detail.”

Cost: Varies but typically around $560 for weeklong workshop. Meals and lodging not included.

Fine Arts Work Center 2011 Summer Workshops

Where: Provincetown, Massachusetts

June 19-24: “Problems of Memoir and Uses of the Journal,” Gerry Albarelli, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, $600

June 26-July 1: “Taken from Life: Autobiography and Fiction,” Richard MCann, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, $725

July 3 – July 8: “Thinking Narratively: Workshop in First-Person Fiction and Nonfiction,” Howard Norman

July 10 – July15: “Constructing Reflection: Memoir Workshop,” Marcie Hershman, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM, $725

July 24-July 29: “Telling the Family Story,” Liz Rosenberg, 9:00 AM – Noon, $600

July 31-August 5: “The Psychology of Seeing: Memoir and Personal History,” Maria Flook, 1:00 – 4:00 PM, $600

August 7 – August 12: “The Self as the Story: Essays in the First Person,” Ariel Levy, 9:00 AM – Noon, $600

August 14 – August 19: “Memoir as Bewilderment,” Nick Flynn, 9:00 AM – Noon, $600

Other Costs: Housing, $675 for week, discounts given for returning students and multiple workshops

Requirements: None for admission. Some workshops ask you to bring copies of manuscript in progress



Programs in June, 2011

Great Lake Retreat sponsored by Lighthouse Writers Conference

Where: Shadowcliff Lodge, Grand Lake, Colorado

When: July 10 -15

Instructor: Numerous workshops on writing application to memoir, including “From Life to Art” by Sheri Caudron

Cost: Workshops: $475 (before May 31), $525 (after). Lodging and meals range from $330 (triple in room) to $390 (double in room)


Bear River Writer’s Conference

Where: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

When: June 2-6

Instructor: Patricia Hampl, 3-hour workshop on memoir, 3 days

Cost: $695-$770 (depending upon accommodation)

Requirements: None, but workshops fill on first-come, first-served basis


Kachemak Bay Writer’s Conference

Where: Homer, Alaska

Sponsor: Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska

When: June 10 -14

Program/Instructor: variety of 1.5 hour sessions over the course of the conference on memoir led by Heather Lende, Sherry Simpson, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Brenda Miller

Cost: $340 (before April 29), $385 (April 30-June 9), $400 after. All sessions, opening dinner and lunches


Cedar Lakes Writers Conference, sponsored by WV Writers

Where: Ripley, West Virginia

When: June 10-12

Instructor: Jim Minick, author Blueberry Years, leading a workshop on Friday, another on Saturday. Workshops entitled “Playing with Time,” and “Truth, Lies and Form, or How Creative is Creative Nonfiction”

Cost: Conference fees range from $120 (members) – $140 (nonmembers) for 3 days. Single and two-day packages also available. Accommodation information at Cedar Lakes can be found on conference website.

Requirements: None specified


Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop

Where: Roanoke, VA

When: June 12-17

Sponsor: Hollins University

Instructors/Workshops: “Time After Time in Memoir and Personal Essay,” James McKean; “Writing About and Through Psychological Trauma: A Hybrid Workshop,” Daniel Mueller; and “Writing from Life,” Jane Alison

Costs: $750 – tuition, $200 – lodging on campus, $200 – meals


Clarksville Writers Conference (7th Annual)

Where: Clarksville, Tennessee

Sponsor: Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council

When: July 13-15

Instructors: Creative nonfiction writing workshop.

Cost: $190 (before June 29), $210 after, includes workshops and opening banquet


Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium

Where: Richlands Virginia

When: June 17-18, 2011

Instructor: Maggie Bishop (morning workshop on memoir writing)

Cost: $50 (before May 21), $60 (after May 21)

Sponsor: SW Virginia Community College, Appalachian Arts Center and Appalachian Authors Guild


Idyllwild Arts Summer Workshop

Where: Idyllwild, CA

When: July 18-22

Instructor/Program: Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, Amy Friedman.
Cost: $655 tuition


Note: One week program at a center that teaches ceramics, photography, and art as well as writing

Santa Barbara Writers Conference

Where: Hotel Mar Monte, Santa Barbara, California

When: June 18-23

Instructors: Diana Raab (From Notebook to Memoir), Rebecca Robins (Nonfiction and Memoir), and Susan Miles Gulbransen (Nonfiction with a Twist)

There are two workshop sessions each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. During each session, attendees choose from about 15 different workshops. For instance, you could attend Diana Raab’s workshop on memoir ever day during the morning session 9-11:30, and then Rebecca Robins memoir class every day in the afternoon 1-3:30. All of the workshop leaders teaching memoir will be teaching the full five days.

Cost: $550 (before March 18), $625 later – covers programs, three dinners. Accommodations and other meals separate. Accommodation options vary from $120-$140 night.


The Kenyon Review Writers Workshop

Where: Gambier, Ohio

Sponsor: The Kenyon Review

When: June 18-25

Instructor/workshop: Dinty Moore, author of “Between Panic & Desire,” and Rebecca McClanahan, author “The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings”

Cost: $1,995 for tuition, lodging and meals

Requirements: writing sample – short piece or excerpt


Colgate Writers Conference

Where: Hamilton, New York

When: June 19-25, 2011

Instructor/Workshop: Intensive on memoir writing led by Jennifer Brice, whose latest publication is “Unlearning to Fly.”

Cost: $1245 (before March 15), $1295 (after March 15) – covers tuition, room and board

Sponsor: Colgate University


Juniper Summer Writing Institute

Where: Amherst, MA (University of Massachusetts)

When: June 19-25

Cost: $1125, tuition, lunches. Lodging is additional

From the director: We are very excited to be offering a week-long memoir workshop this summer with Paul Lisicky. The craft sessions on our website are offered as merely examples of what has been offered in the past (in this case, the sessions offered in 2010.) The sessions offered by our faculty and writers in residence are not defined by genre, but rather aim to discuss diverse issues of craft, process, and inspiration, or to lead exercises exploring technique and imagination. Many of the sessions are useful for writers of many genres. Descriptions of the sessions that will be offered in 2011 will become available to participants in late May.

Where: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

Sun Yung Shin

When: June 22-24

What are the possibilities for writing about the intimacies and intricacies of family? And what is at risk, what are the rewards, when we write about our own families? With these questions, and others, in mind, participants will read work from a variety of genres, in order to learn the many techniques and approaches writers use when writing about family. Open to mixed genres.

Cost: $435


2011 Jackson Hole Writers Conference

Where: Jackson Hole, Wyoming

When: June 23-26

Instructor: Creative Nonfiction Track – includes specific workshops on memoir. Faculty – Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Maralys Willis, and others

Cost: $370 before May 8, $395 after May 8 – does not include accommodations or most meals. (Listing of nearby lodging average around $150/night.)


The Heart of the Story: Writing Memoir

Where: University of Minnesota Cloquet Forest Center, Split Rock Arts Program

The challenge for the memoirist isn’t just remembering the past, but rendering it into a compelling narrative using the same tools as fiction writers. Why we remember something is as important as what we remember because it’s often the first step in discovering an underlying theme or meaning to the story.

When: June 26 – July 1, 2011

Instructor: John Hildebrand
Cost: $620

Sponsor: University of Minnesota, College of Continuing Education


Summer Writers Week

Where: Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY

When: June 27 – July 1 (4.5 days)

Instructor: Katherine Russell Rich, workshop; “Using Research to Strengthen Memoir” – hybrid memoir that incorporate first and third person voice to illustrate personal against larger historical perspective.

Cost: $725

Prior to registering: 5-10 pages of writing by June 1, 2011


Iowa Summer Writing Festival

Where: University of Iowa, Iowa City

When: June 26 – July 1

Instructor/Program: The First Twenty Pages: Writing & Marketing the Beginning of Your Novel or Memoir , Eric Goodman

Cost: $560. Meals and lodging not included



Programs in July, 2011

New York State Summer Writers Institute

Where: Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

When: July 4-15, Phillip Lopate – a workshop in memoir and personal essay

When: July 18-29, James Miller – a workshop in miscellaneous nonfiction (inc. memoir) forms

Cost: $1,900 – 2 weeks session. Includes tuition, meals and lodging.

Antioch Writers Workshop

Where: Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio

When: July 9 -15


  • Matthew Goodman – morning workshop on creative nonfiction – open to all
  • Joyce Dyer – afternoon session focused on personal essay and memoir writing – limited to 12 registrants

Cost: $610 for full week’s workshops ($550 if alumni or local resident), meals and lodging are separate; can also register for partial program

Requirements: None


Tin House Summer Writers Worshop ‘11

Where: Reed College, Portland, Oregon

When: July 10-17

Instructors for Workshops on Memoir: Lee Montgomery, editor of Tin House magazine, Maggie Nelson, “The Red Parts: A Memoir”. Workshop meet for 2.5 hours each day.

Cost: $1000 before May 2, $1100 before July 8

Requirements: Manuscript up to 20 pages



Where: Enterprise, Oregon

When: July 10-15

Instructor: Beth Taylor, “Making the Private Public: Writing about Family and Friends.” Author The Plain Language of Love and Loss: A Quaker Memoir

Cost: $525 conference program, meals, different meal options, including $120 for all meals. Lodging accommodations vary and run from $12 for a tent/RV site – $150 for single person yurt

Requirements: None. Registration opens April 1 and is first-come, first-served.


Taos Summer Writers’ Conference

Where: Taos, New Mexico

When: July 11-15, Master class workshops; July 16-17, Weekend workshops

Writing workshops – limited to 12: Emily Rapp, “A Matter of Love,” Beginning Memoir

Master class – limited to 6 people: Gregory Martin (waiting list), Debra Monroe (2 openings)

July 16-17: Weekend workshops – limited to 12, Mark Sundeen, “Mapping Memory – Finding Your Story,” for all levels

Cost: Weeklong workshop, $650; Weekend workshop: $350

Master Class $1525 ($775 tuition, $750 reading fee)

Requirements: None for weeklong and weekend classes. Workshops fill in order applied


Southampton Writers Conference

Where: Stony Brook, Southampton, New York

When: July 13-24, 2011

Instructor: Roger Rosenblatt

Cost: $1775 (tuition and partial board) – $2445 (conference, room and board)

Sponsor: Stony Brook College

URL: /writers/index.shtm

Requirements: Manuscript (up to 20 pages) by May 20. (Scholarship deadline: April 15)

Stonecoast Writers’ Conference

Where: Southern coast of Maine

Sponsor: University of Southern Maine

When: July 17-23

Instructor: Abigail Thomas, Memoir workshop, author of “Thinking about Memoir” Daily three hour workshop in morning.

Cost: $880 tuition and lunches, $450 lodging


(Port Townsend Workshop)

Requirements: writing sample

Where: Port Townsend, Washington

When: July 17-24

Instructor: Morning workshop. Benjamin Alire Saenz, author of “Carry Me Like Water,” and others. “The Art of the Memoir,” Five page a day. Nostalgia is cheap. Authentic reflection is difficult and painful.

Cost: $625 for workshops; $205-$525 for meals and lodging.


Mendocino Coast Writers Conference

Where: Mendocino, California

When: July 28 – 30, 2011

Instructor: Stephanie Elizondo Griest – workshop leader, Stranger than Fiction—Memoir Writing
Cost: $495 Before 6/15/2011: $495 – After: $545. Not included: accommodations and one dinner



Programs in August, 2011

Madeline Island School of the Arts

Where: Lapointe, Wisconsin

When: August 1 – 8

Instructor/workshop: “From Memory to Memoir,” Cheri Register, author “Packinghouse Daughter”

Cost: $425

Requirements: None


Notes: This is an arts school that offers painting, photography, and quilting as well as writing. It is not a writing retreat.

Pacific Northwest Writers Association

Where: Bellevue Hyatt (Seattle, Washington)

When: August 4-7, 2011

Instructor: Janna Cawrse Esarey, “Finding Your Thread in a Memoir” (part of Storytelling track)

Cost: $495 (before April 1), $595 (before July 1), $695 (after July 1) – includes program and limited meals. Accommodations and most meals separate.

NOTE: email inquiry sent for more detail

Wet Mountain Valley Writers’ Workshop

Where: Coyote Moon Lodge, Westcliffe, Colorado

When: August 7 -13

Instructors: workshop on memoir, Abigail Thomas, “A Three Dog Life,” and new work or restarting writing, Dorothy Allison, “Bastard Out of Carolina”

Cost: $875 – tuition only, $1491 – $1776 all inclusive, rate depends upon lodging option selected


Omega Institute

Where: Rhinebeck, New York

When: August 5 -7

Program: How to Master the Craft of Writing Memoir and Autobiographical Fiction

Marge Piercy and Ira Wood

Cost: $295 tuition. Lodging and meals separate; range from $250 (for dorm) -$612 (single cabin) for 2-night stay, including meals

Community of Writers at Squaw Valley 2011 (40th year)

Where: Squaw Valley, California

When: August 6-13, 2011

Instructor/Workshop: 3-hour workshop on memoir/nonfiction writing each day led by different instructor
Cost: $800 for tuition, housing ranges from $250-$700 depending upon option chosen. Responsible for purchasing most meals

Requirements: Program is limited to those accepted. Manuscript submission required by May 10. Details on website.


Omega Institute

Where: Rhinebeck, New York

When: August 21-26

Instructor/Workshop: Authentic Writing Studio with Marta Szabo and Fred Poole

Cost: $355 tuition. Lodging and meals separate; range from $485 (for dorm) -$1195 (single cabin) for 5-night stay, including meals






{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Judy Pigman December 15, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I’m interested in workshops in memoir for the coming 2012? When will you post those? Eager to plan to attend at least one!


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