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Iowa Summer Writing Festival—How to Start Your Memoir with Robert Anthony Siegel (March 19–April 16, 2021) is a Course

Iowa Summer Writing Festival—How to Start Your Memoir with Robert Anthony Siegel (March 19–April 16, 2021)

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Full course description

How to Start Your Memoir with Robert Anthony Siegel

(Five-Week Workshop)


Fridays on Zoom: March 19–April 16, 2021

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Central Time (7:00–9:00 Eastern; 4:00–6:00 Pacific; 5:00–7:00 Mountain) 

Fee: $500

Course Description

You have a memoir to write—a true story seized from the beautiful chaos of everyday life. The question you face now is how to uncover its shape and give it full-throated voice, the ability to sing. Do you just start at the beginning and write through to the end? What is the beginning, anyway? And once you’ve finally got moving, how do you keep going?

How it works: This course is for beginning memoirists. It introduces students to the basics of memoir writing, including scene, structure, and narrative arc. We meet once a week for five weeks, Fridays from 6:00–8:00 p.m. Central Time. Classes combine lecture, discussion, and short exercises that we will write on the spot and share with the group, reading aloud. There will also be some very short take-home assignments, to keep you thinking between classes.

During our five weeks, I will meet with each student for a 30-minute Zoom conference outside of class to discuss your project in greater depth.

Course objective: student will learn how to conceptualize a book-length memoir. Course take-aways:

·      How to discover and explore your material

·      How to do research

·      How to think about structure and create an outline

·      How to write scenes

·      How to create a writing schedule and set goals

·      In-class generative writing

·      Quick homework assignments between classes


Robert Anthony Siegel is the author of a memoir, Criminals, and two novels, All the Money in the World and All Will Be Revealed. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, The Paris Review, and other magazines. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan and a Mombukagakusho Fellow in Japan. Other awards include O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes. Robert is an associate professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where he teaches fiction and nonfiction. Visit his webpage at


Registration & Fees

The fee for this course is $500. Payment in full is required to register.

Registration for this course opens Thursday, February 18, 2021.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Class size is limited to 10.

Note: Your credit card payment will be processed by an external provider and will appear on your credit card statement as “UI Writing—Magid Center.” 

Cancellation Policy

A $100 cancellation fee will be applied to refunds for cancellations received by Friday, March 5, 2021. Thereafter, no refunds are available. 

Terms & Community Policy

The Iowa Summer Writing Festival is a community built on an assumption of shared enterprise, in the spirit of mutual respect. We reserve the right to a) revoke the registration of or b) dismiss from the program any person who disrupts the learning/working environment of others.

Participants in the Festival are subject to all University of Iowa policies governing conduct in our community, whether online or in person.



Contact the Iowa Summer Writing Festival: Phone: (319) 335-4160.

Our tiny staff is working remotely. If you phone and we miss you, please leave a message!