Many people come to my workshops because they have a personal story they wish to write but they are not sure where or how to start. Others have been writing for a while but find themselves feeling stuck, overwhelmed or out of steam. I have had experienced writers come with a clear project in mind, or well underway, and a series of specific questions for which they need answers. Or sometimes a person arrives simply with a long-held dream to write their story, having decided that now is finally, finally, the time.

No matter where you are with your writing, a workshop can help you. Enormously.

In addition to offering the answers to critical questions and the essential tools you need to structure and sculpt your personal stories successfully, a workshop can spare you unnecessary struggle and frustration, save you time (spinning your wheels, reinventing the wheel...), and offer the accountability and support (and laughter!) we simply cannot find on our own.

The progress I have witnessed over the course of these workshops has been breathtaking. Writing begins to soar as people hone their voices, focus their stories, find clarity, understand their strengths, bypass obstacles, gain confidence, employ the insights and feedback from the group, and walk away with the motivation and inspiration to turn their stories into beautiful writing.

Alumni from my workshops have gone on to see their stories published in newspapers and magazines, their essays shortlisted for international writing prizes, their books published, their autobiographical plays produced. They have secured agents and publishing contracts, positions in MFA Creative Writing programs, and they have created priceless self-made books as gifts for their children and grandchildren.

Most importantly, they have had the pleasure and satisfaction of writing, at last.

Alison’s workshop was the key that unlocked my voice, the fire that lit my confidence and the sage that inspired my daily writing practice. Still going strong.
— Pam Beatson, Barcelona

Have you ever wondered...

* how to choose which of your innumerable stories to write about?
* how to create a structure to contain the material?
* how to transform your personal stories into something of universal interest?
* what the difference is between autobiography and memoir?
* where the line is between memory and fiction?
* how you can write about difficult situations or people, especially if those people are still alive?
* if it is possible to write accurately about something that happened decades ago?
* how to recreate dialogue in a convincing and truthful way?

* what happens if someone else remembers the same events differently?
* what to do if writing your story inspires someone to want to throw a brick through your window?

These are just some of the joys and common challenges to be found in chronicling one's life on the page, so welcome!

Each workshop session begins with an informal lecture and discussion about the essential elements of memoir writing. After that, everyone has the option of workshopping one short piece of writing (or an excerpt from a longer piece). Writing can be generated over the course of the workshop or be previously created. While virtually everyone is apprehensive about sharing their writing at first, guidelines for helpful feedback and a well-monitored workshop ensure that the experience is an inspiring, encouraging and clarifying one. The aim of every session is to provide each writer with fresh and ongoing insights into her/his work, as well as the direction, focus, clarity, enthusiasm and energy s/he needs to move forward.

It’s not that Alison simply holds a mirror to reflect what you need to see within yourself and your writing; rather, it is as if she holds a body of water of immeasurable depth that allows you to go as deep as you must in order to find out who you really are and what you want to say.
— Carolyn Agis, Brooklyn, New York

~ NEXT MEMOIR WRITING WORKSHOPS ~

IN PERSON:

Thursdays, 10am - 1pm [The Friday workshop is SOLD OUT]

18 May - 22 June, 2017 (6 sessions)

+ one 1-hr private consultation with Alison (value: $135)

Limited to 6 participants.

COST: $400 CDN + HST*

Location: 101 Brunswick Street; Stratford, Ontario, Canada

ONLINE:

Thursdays, 4-6pm EST

18 May - 22 June, 2017 (6 weekly sessions)

+ one 1-hr private consultation with Alison (value: $135)

Limited to 4 participants

COST: $500 CDN + HST*

(includes all video-conferencing costs)

*13% Harmonized Sales Tax (Ontario)

A portion of the sale of every workshop is donated to PAL Stratford (in-person workshops) or PEN Canada (online workshops).

Alison’s memoir workshop was everything I had, and hadn’t, expected. Alison creates an environment of respect, knowledge and intimacy, in which one feels safe and supported while negotiating the labyrinth of memory and the challenges of mapping it on the page. The workshop setting also offers the precious opportunity of sharing in the struggles, insights and triumphs of other writers. Frankly, it was a life-changing experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
— Marion Adler, Stratford, Ontario
Alison Wearing’s writing workshop was a joy from start to finish. She is incisive in her observations, yet unfailingly supportive and inspirational.
— Peter R. Newman, Toronto, Ontario
This is my second writing workshop with Alison and she has helped me elevate my writing skills to new levels. Through honest, detailed feedback, Alison reviews our writing pieces and motivates us to tweak and improve. Her animated, often humorous, anecdotes about her own writing process have us excited to write, write and write! I never want it to be over.
— Astrid Russell, Stratford, Ontario
Alison’s workshops were the best writing development decisions I have made in 2016. Not only did I discover the narrative voice of my memoir, but with her guidance, I found a new container that moves the story from the ordinary to the universal. I am grateful for her insight, compassion and encouragement.
— Joan McAndrew, Owen Sound, Ontario
Thanks to Alison’s encouragement to permit myself to look closer and delve deeper, I’m beginning to discover my own voice and realize my stories are interesting and relatable. Humans are the only species that share stories. We’d be lost without them. With them, we find ourselves.
— Barbara Fulton, Stratford, Ontario
The workshop days with Alison were pivotal for my writing. My compass has been reset.
— Lynn Wyvill, Owen Sound, Ontario
Alison created a safe place to tell my story, gently prodding me toward greater clarity and deeper truth. In addition to her masterful guidance, everyone in the workshop shared insights, offered suggestions, and bore witness to one another with great generosity. This is the true meaning of ‘life affirming.’
— Holly Shepard, Stratford, Ontario
By sharing her own experiences, her precise observations, and very apt questions, Alison inspires and encourages her students to succeed. She is a masterful mentor.
— Marion Lane, Vancouver, BC
Alison’s workshop is fantastic! She helped me to be brave enough to write. She gave me validation and a sense that my stories could be unearthed and exposed to the light. I will always be grateful for her inspiring alchemy.
— Cynthia Dale, Stratford, Ontario
Alison revealed a surprising number of approaches to writing personal or family stories. She was gentle, respectful, and often very funny, and made the workshop informative, explorative and fun. Highly recommended.
— Terry Burns, Owen Sound, Ontario
Alison helped me release the real voice inside me and it made my memoir sing.
— Karen Mills, Stratford, Ontario
Alison’s classes are pure JOY!
— Basia del Fante, Neustadt, Ontario