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Life Writing and Writing Life Short Course

Life Writing and Writing Life Short Course

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Joanna Pocock


Life Writing and Writing Life is a course designed for people who want to start on or continue their path towards writing Narrative Non-Fiction. Also known as ‘Creative Non-fiction’, Narrative Non-fiction is a form of non-fiction that uses techniques more associated with fiction such as dialogue, description and characterisation to engage with readers.

You will look at writers like Joan Didion, Maggie Nelson, Annie Dillard, Denis Johnson, Rebecca Solnit, Helen McDonald, Geoff Dyer and Lester Bangs who have all used their lives in their writing and their writing in their lives. Students will try their hand at writing different genres of Narrative Non-Fiction such as personal essays and memoirs, profiles and interviews, nature and travel writing, idea-based essays, literary journalism, blogging and any other forms of prose that use real-life as its springboard. The only necessity is that all pieces of writing for this class must contain some element of truth.

This will be a workshop-based class and there will be homework. Students do not have to purchase books or materials for this class as the tutor will be providing handouts. Students need to show up with a pen, paper and a willingness to mine their lives and minds for stories and an eagerness to share their work.

Topics Covered

  • Come to grips with the basic techniques of ‘good’ writing.
  • Become comfortable with reading aloud.
  • Become better able to take and to give criticism.
  • Learn to think about structure
  • Take your experiences and things you have observed to use as material for pieces of writing

Who should take this course?

This course is aimed at people who have memoirs bursting to get onto the page and for people who want to turn their travels into stories and for those who are curious about how life and writing can merge in unexpected ways.

Entry requirements: A willingness to explore the craft of writing and a very good command of the English language.

Level: All levels

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Joanna Pocock graduated with distinction from the Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications in the US and the UK, such as The Nation, The Los Angeles Times, Orion Magazine, Dark Mountain, The Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman, Dazed & Confused, and 3:AM, among others. She has taught Genre Fiction at Bath Spa University and Life Writing at the University of Roehampton, where some of her students have gone on to win substantial literary awards. In 2018 she won the Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize. Her book-length essay ‘Surrender’ was published in May 2019 by Fitzcarraldo Editions. House of Anansi published 'Surrender' in Canada in 2019 and it will be appearing in the US in April 2020. 'Surrender' is currently being translated into French, Spanish and Italian and has been included on University syllabuses. Joanna has lived in Canada, the United States and Britain and brings a global perspective to her writing and teaching.


Please bring with you to the first session:

Pencil or pen and paper

Some recommended books:

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams

Seek by Denis Johnson

Out of Sheer Rage by Geoff Dyer

This Writing Life by Annie Dillard

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

Available dates

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