Online | Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Online Memoir Workshop: Set Your Own Clock

One of the most versatile variables of memoir writing is time. For instance, how far away from an experience is the writer? When we write about moments that occurred long ago, there is a depth of perspective to draw on. On the flip side, when we write about moments that are quite close, we are tuned into a more raw and demanding sense of urgency. And while we necessarily live our lives chronologically, the act of writing it all down allows us to set our own clock. The events of Tuesday need not follow those of Monday. When it comes to time in memoir writing, we create our own rules.

In this course we will experiment with how we use time on the page and how those choices influence the writing. Students can expect generative writing exercises, craft readings, the opportunity to be workshopped twice, and a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss works-in-progress and writing goals.


- intensive peer and instructor feedback on two memoir submissions

- one private conference (via phone or Skype) with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

- the support of a nurturing community of writers and readers and access to an engaged mentor

- greater familiarity with contemporary nonfiction writing

- strategies for using time on the page, and setting your own clock as a memoirist

- exclusive access to our alumni newsletter, a monthly roundup of submission opportunities (prizes, residencies, lit mags, grants, and more), plus a 10% discount on all future classes

- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page


Week 1: Intros, scheduling, talk about writing processes and goals

Week 2: Perspective and distance, workshop #1

Week 3: Urgency and immediacy, workshop #2

Week 4: Writing against chronology/finding your own clock, workshop #3

Week 5: Using information, history, documents, and other exterior influences as structure, workshop #4

Week 6: Submitting, queries, agents, publishing advice, workshop #5

Lily Brooks-Dalton

Lily Brooks-Dalton is the author of the memoir, Motorcycles I've Loved (Riverhead, 2015), which was an Oregon Book Award finalist, and the novel, Good Morning, Midnight (Random House, 2016). Her shorter works have appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Toast, among others, and she is a recipient of fellowships from The Studios of Key West and The Kerouac Project.


“GOOD MORNING, MIDNIGHT is a remarkable and gifted debut novel. Lily Brooks-Dalton is an uncanny chronicler of desolate spaces, whether it's the cold expanse of the universe or the deepest recesses of the human heart."

Colson Whitehead National Book Award winner

“Exquisite… A beautifully written, sparse post-apocalyptic novel that explores memory, loss and identity.”


“Lily Brooks-Dalton is wonderful, fresh on the scene with a big heart, a fierce spirit, a writer’s eye, and a lovely sense of humor.”

Anne Lamott

​“What the PCT is to Cheryl Strayed, the open road is to Brooks-Dalton.”


“Lily is an inquisitive, intentional, and passionate educator. She makes an effort to understand, appreciate, and know her students. By means of thoughtful one-on-one conversations, a diversity of curricula and assignments, and honest classroom management, she meets students where they are—as writers and as individuals—and encourages them to grow.”

Shane Abrams Portland State University teaching colleague

“Lily Brooks-Dalton has changed me as a writer and teacher for the better. She brings with her, to everything she does, an intellect, internal drive, and an open-heartedness towards writing, writers, and readers that we all would be lucky to have near us for as long as we can.”

Matthew Robinson author of THE HORSE LATITUDES and MFA colleague