Memoir

What constitutes memoir? How is memoir different to autobiography? What makes it different from other forms of art and writing? How do I write, research, and investigate stories that matter? 

For the first time in 2019, Express Media presents Toolkits: Memoir, an online course in the forms, skills, and ethics of writing memoir, combining theoretical approaches, practical exercises, and one-on-one mentorship to guide young writers through the development of new work.

Spanning a range of forms, good memoir is both challenging to write and rewarding to read. Over a 12-week intensive, participants join Zoya Patel to unpack the fundamentals of memoir storytelling, focusing on developing their work from conception to first longform-draft while exploring memoir styles, the ethics of representing real-life characters, and how to pitch your work to publishers.

Toolkits is first and foremost a practical initiative. Young writers will be encouraged to write, workshop and edit their writing throughout the course.

In 2019, Toolkits: Memoir will be facilitated by award-winning writer and editor, Zoya Patel. Zoya will facilitate the programs online sessions and workshops, providing one-on-one mentorship and individualised feedback to each young writer.

Participants also have the chance to learn from some of Australia’s best memoir writers, with guest artists Carly Findlay and Jessie Cole presenting live and online sessions for the next generation across the country.


Tuesday 12th March | Week 1 | Memoir 101: Formats & Styles
What constitutes memoir? How is memoir different to autobiography? Book-length memoirs can take several different forms: essays, narrative nonfiction, anthological memoir. In week 1, we explore the key facets of each different form, and discuss how to define the right format for your memoir.

Tuesday 26th March | Week 2 | Objectivity & Self-Editing
Editing Memoir can be harder to self-edit because of your proximity to the story. In week 2, we explore how to maintain objectivity, and practical tools for self-editing. We will also touch on resilience and messaging – how to separate the purpose and message of the book from the writer as a person.

Tuesday 9th April | Week 3 | Part Memoir, Part Manifesto with Carly Findlay
In Week 3, award-winning writer, speaker and appearance activist Carly Findlay joins us to talk about writing her new memoir Say Hello. Based on her experience writing both this and compiling and editing forthcoming anthology Growing Up Disabled in Australia (Black Inc), Carly will speak to her overt mission to empower other people with disabilities through her own story and what the real-life implications are of representing a community.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Tuesday 23rd April | Week 4 | Ethics & Other People’s Stories

What are the ethical considerations, both legal and philosophical, that you should consider when writing memoir? What duty does the writer have to protect other people who feature in their stories? What could be the possible fall out from writing memoir? In week 4, we discuss the ethical considerations to think about when working with other people’s stories.

Tuesday 7th May | Week 5 | Writing Family with Jessie Cole
In Week 5, novelist and writer Jessie Cole joins us to talk about the structure, style and craft of her critically acclaimed memoir Staying (2018). Jessie will talk to the specific techniques she employed when writing about the complexities of family, loss and trauma.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Tuesday 21st May | Week 6 | Polishing, Pitching & Preparing for Publication
In the final week of class, we focus preparing participants to polish their own writing and ready it for submission—and beyond.

Now you’ve drafted your masterpiece, how can you polish it to make it the best it can be? Where should you send it? What are some pro-tips for submitting? How much What’s it like to be edited? We’ll hash out these questions and plenty more to get your manuscript ready for publication, including developing an outline and pitch document ready to send to an agent or a publisher.


Applications to Toolkits are free for Express Media members. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up here.

Express Media is committed to access, so if you would like to sign up and are experiencing financial hardship, please contact us via info@expressmedia.org.au to be awarded one of our sponsored memberships.

The only other things you’ll need are motivation and internet connection, so don’t miss out on this exciting opportunity to refine your craft and be mentored by some of Australia’s best literary talent.

Applications have now closed.

Have a question? Need help with your application? Send an email to Express Media’s Creative Producer at creativeproducer@expressmedia.org.au.


Zoya Patel is a writer and editor based in Canberra. She is the Founding Editor of independent feminist journal, Feminartsy, through which she publishes the work of writers from across Australia. Zoya writes fiction, non-fiction and memoir, and has had her work published in a range of publications including Junkee, Women’s Agenda, i-D.co, Right Now, The Canberra Times and more. She is on the board of the Feminist Writers Festival, and her memoir No Country Woman is out now.  

Carly Findlay is an award winning writer, speaker and appearance activist.  She writes on disability issues for publications including ABC, Daily Life and SBS. She was named as one of Australia’s most influential women in the 2014 Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards. She has appeared on ABC’s You Can’t Ask That and Cyber Hate with Tara Moss, and has been a regular on various ABC radio programs. Carly has just published her first book – a memoir called Say Hello. Read her writing on appearance diversity and disability at carlyfindlay.com.au

Jessie Cole grew up in an isolated valley in northern New South Wales, where she still lives in her childhood home. Her first novel, Darkness on the Edge of Town, was shortlisted for the 2013 ALS Gold Medal and longlisted for the Dobbie Literary Award. Her second novel, Deeper Water, was released in 2014 to much critical acclaim. Jessie’s 2018 memoir, Staying, has been shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, with Tim Winton describing it as ‘a wounded, lovely, luminous book about grief, trauma and the strange healing potential of words.’

Toolkits: Memoir is generously supported by The Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Toolkits: Live is presented by Express Media in partnership with Regional Arts Victoria as part of the Arts Connect Series funded by the Federal Government’s Regional Arts Fund.