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

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 author 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 2020, 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 Amra Pajalic and Ellena Savage presenting live and online sessions for the next generation across the country.

PLEASE NOTE: Toolkits: Memoir will now take place on Thursday evenings.

Thursday 26th March | Week 1A | Memoir 101: Formats & Styles
What constitutes memoir? How is memoir different from 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.

Thursday 2nd April | Week 1B | Feedback week


Thursday 9th April | Week 2A | 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 this week, we consider the ethical considerations when working with other people’s stories.

Thursday 16th April | Week 2B | Feedback week


Thursday 23rd April | Week 3A | Writing family, writing illness with Amra Pajalic: 6.00pm
In Week 3, we speak to author Amra Pajalic about the ethics and challenges of writing about family. Amra will explore the complexities of navigating culture and illness through memoir.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Thursday 30th April | Week 3B | Feedback week


Thursday 7th May | Week 4A | Life as Research with Ellena Savage: 6.30pm
In this Q&A session with author Ellena Savage, we’ll explore how personal experience can inform and become research material in memoir. We’ll also discuss the interplay between confession and boundaries, and how to find a balance between the two.

Join the conversation and livestream this Toolkits Live event.

Thursday 14th May | Week 4B | Feedback week


Thursday 21st May | Week 5A | Objectivity & Self-Editing
Memoir can be harder to edit for yourself because of your proximity to the story. This session will explore how to maintain objectivity, and practical tools for self-editing. It will also touch on resilience and messaging – how to separate the purpose and message of the book from the writer as a person.

Tuesday 28th May | Week 5B | Feedback week


Tuesday 4th June | Week 6A | Polishing, Pitching & Preparing for Publication
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? What’s it like to be edited? This session will focus on finalising and preparing a manuscript for

publication, including developing an outline and pitch document to an agent or a publisher.

Tuesday 11th June | Week 6B | Feedback week



Have a question? Need help with your application? Send an email to Express Media’s Creative Producer at

Amra Pajalic is an editor, teacher and award winning author,. Her debut novel The Good Daughter (Text Publishing, 2009) won the 2009 Melbourne Prize for Literature’s Civic Choice Award. She is co-editor of the anthology Growing up Muslim in Australia (Allen and Unwin, 2019) shortlisted for the 2015 Children’s Book Council of the Year awards. Her latest book is a family memoir Things Nobody Knows But Me (Transit Lounge, 2019). She is completing a PhD in Creative Writing at La Trobe University.

Ellena Savage is an Australian author. Her essay collection BLUEBERRIES is out now with Text Publishing and Scribe UK. Ellena’s writing examines the unbreakable nexus of intimate and public, and has previously appeared in Sydney Review of Books, Paris Review Daily, Meanjin, Cordite, and The Lifted Brow, of which she is a former editor. Ellena holds a PhD in Creative Writing with a focus on feminist literary criticism and the contemporary essay, and she is a 2019-2021 Marten Bequest Travelling Scholar.

Zoya Patel is the author of critically-acclaimed memoir, No Country Woman, essays on race, religion and feminism.  She is the Founding Editor of independent feminist journal, Feminartsy, through which she published the work of writers from across Australia and now hosts online courses and the Read Like A Feminist Bookclub. Zoya writes fiction, non-fiction and memoir, and has had her work published in a range of publications including Junkee, Women’s Agenda,, Right Now, The Canberra Times and more.

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