I TEACH WHAT I CALL “writing with intent.” There are no writing prompts or silly exercises, and no assignments in any of my classes. Why? Because I can say with great assurance that while I’ve had hundreds of people in my memoir classes who are in recovery from all manners of addiction, the single greatest number of them are in recovery from writing exercises that fritter away what little time most of us have to write. Put ’em away. And while you are at it, put down that glue gun and stop scrapbooking. Let’s write memoir, shall we?
I teach at a variety of venues, in a range of classes:
- I offer four online memoir classes.
- I offer one-on-one coaching, editing and nudging as part of my 5 Steps to Writing Great Memoir.
Testimonials from my students
Marion’s approach is like a mathematician teaching theory. Scary and interesting. She has illustrated a formula I now understand: pull the precise out of the indistinct, and watch the stories add up. She pulls out the stops. She talks to you in language that drives you toward a story, keeps you focused on what it’s (the story) about, and shows you, through her own writing, how to make it all add up, to pull the precise out of the indistinct. Want to drive your story forward? Tell the truth. Want to finally sit down and write? Sit down. And write.
– Paul Ehmann, real estate broker, essayist, Chicken Soup for the Soul series
I wrote till dawn – gems, pearls, beautiful turns of phrases which, during the editing process, I recognized as irrelevant. Being able to ‘kill my darlings’ was a turning point that brought me to a more advanced level of writing.
– Robyn Ringler, attorney, independent bookstore owner and public radio contributor
Marion’s guidance and editing pointed the way, like a good compass, allowing me to plot my own course from “Where do I start?” to published writer.
– Dr. Katherine Uraneck, Senior Medical Coordinator, Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Program, NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiphysician and contributor, This Side of Doctoring: Reflections from Women Physicians (Oxford University Press)
Marion teaches the essential elements of memoir: how to clearly tell one story at a time to answer the most important question, “What is this story about?’ Once you know this, you can write anything with the material from your own experience.
– Deb Smith, Ph.D., professor, Empire State College, travel and food writer, contributing writer, Atlantica magazine
Marion’s exhortations to write five pages a day – no more, no less – transformed me from a writer-wannabe into an MFA writing and literature graduate.
— Kathryn Allen, writer
You are a great mentor for memoir. I appreciate your good ideas and suggestions.
–Harriet Englander, writer and student of the Master Class
Having a story to tell is the smallest element in memoir. Writing that personal account, now that’s the difficult part – until you discover Marion Roach Smith. Her skill as a teacher who is also an accomplished writer is extraordinary. I found my creative voice in Marion’s class.
— Desiree M. Roberts, Pd.D., assistant professor, Academic Area coordinator and Mentor to Adult learners, SUNY Empire State College, essayist, Times Union op-ed contributor
It is a miraculous journey that Marion leads us on, from tentative wordsmiths to committed writers in a few short weeks. She establishes a classroom atmosphere that provides safety and competent reassurance. Suddenly the memories in my head appeared in a written, readable form that I could share with an audience of my choosing.
–Dan New, three-time class veteran
Marion is a writer’s editor and teacher. She sees to the heart of a piece, she encourages true and honest expression, and she helps writers craft what they want to say. She doesn’t critique writing; she grows writers. I trust her with all my writing and I’d recommend her to anyone, whatever their writing experience.
—Dennis Gaffney, professional writer
Marion’s classes have helped me to find my voice and to believe in my voice. I keep her book at my side when I am writing. If I get stuck, reading a few pages gives me the push I need.
–Jelane A. Kennedy, writer and blogger