Week 1 - March 9

STRUCTURE, with Marion Roach Smith

Password is MEMOIR


Marion’s The Memoir Project
Brooke & Linda Joy’s Breaking Ground on Your Memoir

Week 2 - March 16

BEGINNINGS, with Wendy C. Ortiz

Password is MEMOIR


Wendy C. Ortiz’s Excavation

Week 3 - March 23

SCENES, with Porochista Khakpour

Password is MEMOIR


Porochista Khakpour’s Sick
Memoirs referenced/recommended by Porochista:
Fairest, by Meredith Talusan
Better Than Sane, by Alison C. Rose
No Time Like the Future, by Michael J. Fox

Week 4 - March 30

TIME & TRANSITIONS, with Brooke Warner

Password is MEMOIR


Memoirs referenced/recommended by Brooke:
See No Stranger, by Valarie Kaur
Pieces of My Mother, by Melissa Cistaro
Dog Medicine, by Julie Barton
Educated, by Tara Westover

Mother-daughter memoirs:
Addicted Like Me (co-written by mother and daughter)
Searching for Normal (contains daughter’s journals)

Week 5 - April 6

VOICE, with Faith Adiele

Week 6 - April 13

REFLECTION, with Linda Joy Myers

Password is MEMOIR


Books referenced/recommended by Linda Joy:
Song of the Plains, by Linda Joy Myers
Children of the Land,
by Marcello Hernandez Castillo
All Over but the Shoutin’, by Rick Bragg
Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro
Because I Remember Terror, Father I Remember You, by Sue Williams Silverman
The Color of Water, by James McBride
The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande
H Is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Blow Your House Down, by Gina Frangello


  • Alison C. Rose, Better Than Sane
  • Cheryl Strayed, Wild
  • Dani Shapiro, Inheritance
  • Deb Olin Unferth, Barn 8
  • Ernest Hemingway, Hills Like White Elephants
  • Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
  • Gina Frangello, Blow Your House Down
  • Helen McDonald, H is for Hawk
  • J.R. Moehringer, The Tender Bar
  • James McBride, The Color of Water
  • Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle
  • Joanne Silver Jones, Headstrong
  • Julie Barton, Dog Medicine
  • Kiese Laymon, Heavy
  • Lidia Yuknavitch, The Chronology of Water
  • Linda Joy Myers, Don’t Call Me Mother
  • Linda Joy Myers, Song of the Plains
  • Marcello Hernandez Castillo, Children of the Land
  • Marion Roach Smith, The Memoir Project
  • Melissa Cistaro, Pieces of My Mother
  • Meredith Talusan, Fairest
  • Michael J. Fox, No Time Like the Future
  • Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air
  • Porochista Khakpour, Sick
  • Porochista Khakpour, Suns and Other Flammable Objects
  • Reyna Grande, The Distance Between Us
  • Rick Bragg, All Over but the Shoutin’
  • Sue Williams Silverman, Because I Remember Terror, Father I Remember You
  • Tara Westover, Educated
  • Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger
  • Wendy C. Ortiz, Excavation


Week 1

  • Think of a significant moment in your life, one that changed you. Write a scene of that moment that includes setting, your age, who was there, and what happened. Write about the event, and then how you made sense of that moment, how it changed you and why it mattered in your life.
  • Find another moment, a turning point, that stands out from your childhood and freewrite about it—a word sprint. Write as quickly as you can as you explore the meaning of that moment, an aha that resulted from it. How that moment became a theme in your life.

Week 2

  • Write about a time where you spoke or acted against the prevailing norm in your life—with family, friends, society. Write the conflict, using dialogue.
  • Write from a body part that carries emotion for you—what is your stomach saying? Your heart? What do your hands do when you’re thinking of the past, or your legs?

Week 3

  • Write about a secret that your family doesn’t know. Include how you know the secret and how holding the secret affects your life.
  • Write a holiday scene when the family gathered. Who’s there, what are they like? Draw upon characterization and dialogue.


Week 4

  • Write about an experience in the “now” time frame, and then break to the past to pick up a thematically similar moment or memory using flashback, which is writing an entire scene set in another time and place. Then return to the now, using a transition, as Brooke presented on Tuesday.
  • Practice your transitions. Write a series an opening to a scene, focusing on transitioning the reader in using time, place, or reflection. Work on the entire scene minding where you are “in relation” to the opening moment.

Week 5

  • Choose one of your own language “codes” from your Tuesday brainstorm. This could be cultural, ethnic, regional language, or just integrating a certain slang. Write a scene adopting how you are when you’re interacting with one of these “in-groups.” 
  • Write a scene from the point of view of you as a child—the voice of that child. Rewrite the same scene from the voice and POV of you as an adult.

Week 6

  • Write a scene that includes dialogue with someone with whom you have a conflict. Set the context in reflection, include the dialogue to show the relationship, and weave in reflection, After the dialogue scene, include a longer reflection.
  • List your theme(s). Write a reflection—try using “we” or “you” voice if you like, about your theme, the things you think of and know.