Memoir Writing Workshops:

"Writing the Spiritual Memoir"


"Seven Types of Memoir"


"Writing the Memoir"

Thomas Larson has given two-hour, all-day, and weeklong workshops at bookstores, writing centers, libraries, writers' guilds, private groups, and universities for beginning and advanced memoirists throughout the United States.

From 2007 to 2019, venues include:

Cuyahoga Library, South Euclid Branch (Cleveland, OH)

Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference (Homer, AK)

Santa Fe Summer Workshop (Santa Fe, NM)

Hudson Valley Writers' Center (Sleepy Hollow, NY)

MFA Low-Residency Program (Ashland, OH)

The Writers' Center (Bethesda, MD)

The Writers' Workshoppe (Port Townsend, WA)

Warwick’s Bookstore (La Jolla, CA)

Ghost Ranch (Santa Fe, NM)

Ghost Ranch Fall Writing Festival (Abiquiu, NM)

St. Louis Writer’s Guild

Lancaster (PA) Literary Guild

Writers’ Center of Indiana (Indianapolis, IN)

Mobile Writers Guild (Mobile, AL)

Bookpeople (Austin, TX)

Houston (TX) Public Library

Palm Springs (CA) Public Library

Book Passage (Corte Madera, CA)

Margaret Mitchell House (Atlanta, GA)

OLLI Memoir Writers (Auburn, AL)

Clemente Program (Port Hadlock, WA)

Wordstock (Portland, OR)

Kansas City (MO) Public Library

Columbia (MO) Public Library

The Loft (Minneapolis, MN)

Worthington Library (Columbus, OH)


"Writing About Illness"

An Annotated List


Price: email me

Writing Workshops
Writing the Spiritual Memoir Print E-mail

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The noted memoirist, critic, and teacher Thomas Larson guides participants in a short (two-hour) or long (all-day or weekend) workshop, which initiates and refines the craft of writing spiritually.

Based on his 2019 book, Spirituality and the Writer, Larson presents this evolving form with roots in classic literature and with a wealth of expressions in contemporary writing. The first classic/contemporary distinction is between religious autobiography and spiritual memoir. Context is key.

Religious autobiography focuses on a set of text-based beliefs and religious traditions that manifest themselves in an individual’s life either from the cradle or via conversion. Spiritual memoir, on the other hand, elicits a wide array of contexts—numinous experiences with nature, art, family, relationships, and the self. The context may involve a New Age philosophy or an Eastern practice and typically reflects an inner quest to find a deeper purpose in life, one that’s been suddenly activated or long lost.

In some ways, the writing itself is the journey: an author writes to engage the spirit via the memoir’s self-contemplative and self-evaluating discipline.

Writing exercise include practice in: a) several or all of the eight craft elements of spiritual writing, b) transforming assertions and doctrine into concrete expressions of inner and relational experience, and c) improvising or brainstorming new ways of exploring questions of faith, lost faith, and doubt.

Reading excerpts include selections from: a) Christian authors Augustine and Therese of Lisieux, b) spiritual essayists Langston Hughes and Bruce Lawrie, and c) contemporary memoirists Cheryl Strayed, Peter Matthiessen, and Barbara Ehrenreich.

The goal is an awareness of what spiritual literature is and how one’s transcendent experiences can make sense through the rigor of deeply reflective and narratively rich personal writing.

Thomas Larson has given two-hour, all-day, and weeklong workshops at bookstores, writing centers, libraries, writers' guilds, private groups, and universities for beginning and advanced memoirists throughout the United States.

Mr. Larson is also available to speak/teach at writers' conferences, do one-on-one interviews on podcasts and stage, give readings, and participate on panels devoted to religious and spiritual authorship.

For more on "Writing the Spiritual Memoir," please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for scheduling and fees.

Writing the Memoir: Day-Long & Extended Workshops Print E-mail

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Thomas Larson, renowned writer and memoir facilitator, is available for daylong, weekend, and weeklong workshops. He has taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN, at Ghost Ranch in Santa Fe and Abiquiu, NM, and at Writing Centers in Bethesda, MD, and Indianapolis, IN. From 2010 to 2017, he taught in the Low-Residency MFA program at Ashland University, Ashland, OH. He works one-on-one with writers, critiquing and editing manuscripts. The announcement below describes his basic workshop and can be used for advertising and promotion.

Join Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist and Spirituality and the Writer, for a workshop in memoir writing. We begin by discussing the significant differences between traditional autobiography and contemporary memoir. Next, we explore memoir's demanding questions: Where do I begin? What is my focus? How do I discover the emotional truth of my story? How do I write about the living? With numerous writing prompts, we look at the mainstays of the form: truth-telling and self-disclosure; sudden versus long-ago memoir; good and bad therapeutic writing; and the importance of metaphor and myth in the personal life.

An extended workshop (weekend or weeklong) begins with the following description.

Many of us have lived fascinating lives whether inwardly or outwardly, during childhood long ago or as adults in the last decade. But when it comes to writing a memoir, where do we begin? The day of our birth? The day we left home? The beginning or end of a relationship? Memoir is most successful when it is not the “story of a life,” but a focused part of that life—a dozen summers spent working on a grandfather’s farm; a long relationship with a dying relative; the first year of law school.

In “Writing the Memoir,” we discuss how to choose a subject, plan, focus, and begin a memoir. What makes for good subjects in memoirs? Examples include a relational memoir, one focused on mother and daughter or father and son; a memoir of passionate interest, a love of reading or mountaineering; a memoir of a phase or era, time spent in Mexico, a divorce, the death of a favorite uncle. We also explore the differences between autobiography and memoir and address the idea of self-disclosure.

There is time for multiple writing exercises in recalling people, places, and events, readings from published memoirs, discussion of the tension between emotional and factual truth, ideas about truth-telling for memoirists, one-on-one sharing and critique, and advice on publishing. The goal will be to draft the material for the first chapter or for a section of a memoir.

  • Author photo, book cover, posters, and postcards are available upon request.
  • Venues must include desks or tables that accommodate participants.
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