Memoir Writing Course Level 1 (Starts June 6)

“She weaves and layers lectures, writing prompts with workshopping along with insightful feedback (often with sketches!) for every session. Kathryn is attentive to the temperament of each class, pausing a little longer here, waving a brief hello to something over there. I rave about these classes! Not only for how each has helped me to learn the craft of writing but for how she has helped me discover my voice. Quite honestly, growing as a writer has profoundly affected my relationships. Deepening my relationship to self, to loved ones and the world I habit. What a joy!” — Beth Anne, New Jersey 


  • A live online creative writing course
  • 4-6:30 PM BST
  • 8 weekly sessions
  • June 6/13/20/27, July 4/11/18/25
  • Detailed feedback on all writing
  • Limited to 14 people
  • Tuition: £550
Learn How to Write Memoir

Join this memoir writing course with New York Times bestselling author Kathryn Aalto and learn how to write your unique story. Unlike autobiography — a narrative of one’s entire life — memoir focuses on a particular chapter of one’s life. This focus is often about a time of momentous change, a profound realisation, or an important journey of some sort that prompted personal growth and evolution. Subjects of memoir are as varied as people: a journey that changed you in some way, the loss or gain of someone important, a stage in your life from childhood to adulthood, or some other time. Whatever it is, the change was an “ignition point.” It caused you stop being the person you once were in order to re-pattern your thinking and become someone new. That particular change is the essence of great memoir.

Learn How to Write Narrative Nonfiction

Great memoir resides in understanding how to put the most compelling elements of your experiences into a narrative. It is important to know that just because it happened does not mean it will make a good story. You may already know what you want to write about but are seeking the skills to put that experience into words. This memoir course will immerse you in your life experience and teach you techniques of memoir whether you aspire to publication, personal journaling, or blogging.

This memoir course provides the time and space to read and discuss a variety of new and classic memoir. There is guidance and support in learning how to write memoir not only through lectures, discussions, and in-class writing, but in the unparalleled supportive community of fellow writers. You will learn how writers of creative or narrative nonfiction borrow fictional devices to make their nonfiction come alive: voice and first-person presence, sense of place, dialogue/monologue, narrative arc, attentive to language, and research.

Learn from an Experienced Teacher

Memoir Writing (Level I) provides positive accountability (a.k.a. deadlines), detailed feedback, and valuable fellowship that will help you grow as a writer.  Weekly classes provide the pace and space to process, reflect, experiment, and grow.  Lectures are focused on particular topics or skills in writing memoir. Discussions are based on assigned readings of books and essays. Workshops provide a warm and supportive place to share your work.  

If you have questions about the syllabus, experience level, or tuition payments, please e-mail


  • Understand key elements of great memoir
  • Apply techniques to ‘show not tell’ in your writing
  • Cultivate ideal narrative arcs in memoir
  • Compose essays in response to assigned topics
  • Develop your distinctive writing voice





  • Essentials of Narrative Nonfiction: Harnessing Fictional Techniques to Make Your Nonfiction Come Alive by Kathryn Aalto 


No matter your subject or style, you will find a great writing community in this bi-weekly course and learn how to write memoir. All of Kathryn’s courses are characterised by a warm sense of community and accountability, which keep you comfortably supported and focused on your writing goals. Each session you gather with your classmates and new friends, you will learn from each other while gaining a new set of friends who share your writing aspirations and growth mind-set.


Kathryn Aalto is a passionate practitioner and teacher of narrative nonfiction.  For more than twenty-five years, she has taught writing and literature courses at colleges and universities including Western Washington University, Everett Community College, and Plymouth University and guest lectured at Cambridge University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, and more. She has a global mentoring practice and leads in-person retreats as well as creative nonfiction writing courses online and in person at workshops and retreats in the United States and United Kingdom. She is a judge for The Nature Chronicles Prize, an international bi-annual award for nature writing in the English language.

Her teaching philosophy is focused on encouraging a uniquely personal exploration of narrative nonfiction. At its core, she believes teaching is about responding to each student, whether they are an emerging writer or writing beyond the level of content mastery. She cultivates a mindful and supportive learning environment that fosters personal expression, critical thinking, and individual artistic growth in the literary arts.


Read more testimonials here.

“I have been making my living with journalistic texts for four years now. Tied to my desk due to the pandemic I decided it was time to take my writing to another level and enrolled in The Art of Narrative Nonfiction. Being skeptical of virtual courses at first, I was immediately drawn into the group by her professional and yet entertaining moderation of the weekly online gatherings. With an attractive mix of lecture, discussion, workshop and personal tutoring she enabled us to not only profit from her vast experience as a writer but also to open up our pieces to our peers from various cultural backgrounds. I’ll definitely be back for more.”

Johannes, Cologne, Germany

“Margaret Atwood said ‘If you really want to write, and you’re struggling to get started, you’re afraid of something.’ Kathryn fixes those nagging fears by showing writers what we have that is already good, and what we can do better tomorrow. It’s win-win, and she remakes a traditional “class” into such an enjoyable, productive journey. I’ve also been lucky enough to experience the awe-inspiring surroundings and warm community that form the bedrock of the Rural Writing Institute. It’s not often that you can genuinely say that one long weekend shifted the way you look at the world, but the effects are still with me in my reading and writing years later.”

Caroline, Aberdeen, Scotland

“After six months of working with Kathryn–which is a bit like entering the space of a handwritten letter, what with her sharp aesthetic sense, far-ranging intelligence, wit, and curiosity–I’ve made tangible progress on an unwieldy, long-form project I was struggling to articulate. I came to her Memoir and Life Writing class for accountability, and came away having experienced the kind of support, writing insight, and real feeling of friendship that can be difficult to find in a workshop environment. Kathryn fostered a warm, charming atmosphere in class (a real feat online), allowing for life-long connections to develop among our group of writers. She cares about the arc of her student’s writing lives–a form of attention that encourages artistic growth and positive risk-taking. She not only brought her years of writing and publishing experience to class and to our bi-monthly writing assignments (her personal feedback, often handwritten, is invaluable), she also brought her unique perspective. Writer-gardener-historians are, I think, particularly adept at imagining the possibilities for a piece, no matter your subject. Kathryn pushed me to dig deeper, moving my writing in new directions. No matter where one is in their writing life, working with Kathryn will be an experience of profound joy, insight, and artistic deepening.”

Veronica, Portland, Oregon