Write a Memoir Course Cape Town August 2024

Thu Aug 8, 09:00 - Thu Aug 8, 17:00

Stoep Startup


Dates August 8, 15, 22, 29

Venue: Plumstead Cape Town

Times: 9am - 1pm every Thursday for the duration of the month

Host: The Writing Room

This is a structured writing workshop for writers of all levels who want to tell their

own story or write a non-fiction. Expect a combination of technical writing techniques, working through your personal and writing blocks, finding ways to access your memories and plan your story. This is ideal if you are writing a memoir, biography or non-fiction. You may just need quiet and connecting time to work on any writing project.

Sarah Bullen is a multi-published author, international writing coach and literary agent. Founder of The Writing Room and Ken Literary, she has had over 100 books published by writers she has mentored and has 17 years working with authors.

How does the course work?

You will be in a group of between 4-12 participants and together we travel the journey of memory and writing.

In the class you will do exercises individually and a lot of writing and planning. After class there is homework that will involve research (your history), journalling, observing, interviewing other people who were around at the time of your story, planning, expanding on your exercises and delving into your own memories.

On a retreat or a week-long course this all happens over a week. If you do a month-long course you have longer to complete the research phases of the homework.

This course is a combination of technical writing techniques and finding a way to access your memories.

What will I learn?

You will learn how to technically put your book together.

  • What is your story - let's find it together.
  • The basics of planning a compelling story
  • Researching and remembering your life
  • Giving your story a structure
  • Finding your own writing voice
  • Finding your life story
  • Including characters and events
  • Limiting your time
  • Handling point of view
  • Working with dialogue
  • Finding your life theme
  • Knowing what to include and exclude

"This course is a journey of discovery. I went into places from my past as if I was still living them. I can't stop writing now," Isabelle Hartha, 2019

"This memoir writing course is not about how to write well. It is about how to write honestly. I firmly believe there is not really such a thing as a good writer. But there are honest writers who dig deep into their own hearts and find the core of issues. So this course is a journey. It is fun, big and brave. It requires you to go and find elements of your life - documents, photos, images, letters, diaries - that fill in the pictures of your memory. But most of all it is a wonderful adventure back into your own life."  Sarah Bullen

Memoir is a good selling genre.

Memoir has long been a fast-selling genre and its trajectory is still rising. It is compelling to read about other people’s lives in intimate, graphic, no-holds-barred detail. The more graphic the better. One of my favourite writers Joanne Felder describes writing a memoir as “the verbal equivalent of streaking”.

Memoir has to have a story

If you are writing about yourself there has to actually be a story. You don’t necessarily have to have been reared by wolves, held as a sex slave in a basement for a decade, married to Mick Jagger or found God in a coma. Of course sensation sells, but you could have simply left your husband and gone on a spiritual journey (Eat, Pray, Love), found joy in a year of pain (My Year of Magical Thinking) or just been a very pushy parent (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother).

It is not that these people did anything particularly extraordinary, but they wrote about it in an extraordinary way.

Everyone has a story. Most people have a few.

It can be a year, a single incident or a theme that runs through your life. It can be a deep love of food, a passion that has driven you, an obsession or a love affair that marked your life and changed your course. The job of a writer is to find your own story. In some way it is the greatest job.

And sometimes the writing becomes the adventure. Writing your own story is not as linear as writing to be published.

If it’s good enough to be published, well that’s grand. If not, you have gone deeper, understood more, recorded something of value and ‘tasted life twice’.

There are as many different types of memoir as there are people.

Why do we write about ourselves? We write because we want to understand. We write to record and remember. Writing your own story is a powerful experience. Some stories simply have to be written. After years of teaching novel writing my love has turned to memoir. Both of my non-fiction books have been memoir-based and so many writers I work with are focusing on memoir.

Flannery O'Connor famously said that anyone who survives childhood has enough material to write anything.

A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. ~ Maya Angelou

Like Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes) you can write about your childhood. You can write about places you’ve visited, as Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). You can write about a particular person who influenced you, as Lorna Kelly did in The Camel Knows the Way, which chronicles her time with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. You can write about a crime or injustice you encountered. You can write about your relationship with food, your relationship with your sister, your trip down the Amazon, your struggle with disease.... You can write a memoir about anything, any part of your life that you want to record. No matter how small or seemingly inconsequential.

You can write your story for your family, for your children, for a publisher or a magazine. But most of all you can also write it for yourself. You can write to record your life, or a part of it. It is a way of finding meaning. It is creative journey of the soul.

Just join us and write it down. Tell your own story.



"This course is a journey of discovery. I went into places from my past as if I was still living them. I can't stop writing now," Isabelle Hartha, 2019

An autobiography is a factual account of your life story – from beginning to present

A memoir is an account of a section of your life, passed through the filter of memory.







After 17 years of coaching authors, we have literally hundreds of testimonials. You can find them here and a few are also below

I did your 100-day writing course in 2015 for my novel, Gracie Stirling and the Whisper Horses. It's getting published! A small publishing house in Wales picked it up and will be publishing it. I have already signed the contract and they have sent their edits.   I just wanted to say a big thank you so much. The 100-Day course was invaluable and it provided me with the structure and "action"  they loved in the book.  Thank you! 
Jenny Kling, Gracie Stirling and the Whisper Horses, Gomer Publishing 2019

It almost feels like a dream - like I had 20,000 words, then woke up four months later and now have nearly 80,000.  This course has been exactly what I needed and wanted - and more. Sarah Bullen thank you for giving us the perfect mix of inspiration, tenderness and whip-cracking. It has been such a pleasure getting to know you both and working with you - and I look forward to continuing my journey with you!
Anne-Marie Luck, Tokyo 2020

This "write a novel" course was the best birthday present I ever gave myself. It was set in a beautiful and peaceful environment, was well paced, was information packed with all the basics of how to really write a book, had surprising acts of art and physical exercise included to move the thinking through the body, was practical and honest about how dedicated one must really be to write, and was delicious to be around such inspiring facilitators who are warm, caring and so professional too. Thank you Sarah and Anel! - Kate 2017 

I spent this last week with Sarah, Anel and the other writers at the Write your Novel Retreat in the Cape. This was truly the most inspiring and motivating thing I have ever done for myself. Sarah's guidance is invaluable. Working our way through the writing process with Sarah has left me feeling far more equipped to pursue my dream. And her personal insights into my project has taken it to another level. I highly recommend this retreat to anyone, regardless of where you are writing wise. Amazing experience. - Jill Aslet

“Holy smoke Sarah, I actually sat and did it. It was a crash course in writing, but it worked like a charm. The plotting spreadsheets I got to the end, with a 60,000 word first draft of my book,” Miranda Guest, New York 
“I am loving the writing course btw…it is the best money I have ever spent.” 
Andy Moss 
“This course comes highly recommended. If you need a clear direction or a new take on your book, you will get more than your money’s worth out of this one – you may come away with a bestseller.” Michelle Matthews, former publisher Struik SA

‘All aspects of writing became clear in this course. I knew what to do with my book and how to complete it.” S Redelinghuys, A Life Interrupted (2008) 
Rajesh, January 2013. 
“This is a life-changing course. I spent a month course immersed in my ideas for a book and I came away with a way to write it. Sarah is hard-core and she pushed me all the way to the end. I only wished it could go on and on.”
Zanozuko Mzamo, A Year of Staying Positive (2008)
“I give Sarah's course a 5* rating.”

“Sarah took my lifelong dream of writing a book seriously. In four inspiring lessons she equipped me with the framework to succeed by teaching me how and by pushing me to start. Her advice is frank, her direction crystal clear and her insight invaluable. I started the course with only a burning desire and left with a genre, characters, a plot and my first few chapters written.” Anne 2024


Write a Memoir Course Cape Town August 2024
Stoep Startup
3 Tiverton Rd, Plumstead, Cape Town, 7801
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