Life Writing with Deborah Shepard

Under Deborah’s gentle guidance you will have five blissful days to indulge your dream and begin your life writing project in a collaborative and supportive environment


Course outline

Session One: Getting Started

  • Introductions
  • a definition of memoir and why people write memoir
  • writing exercise: What brought me here?
  • a conducive environment for writing
  • a timeline of my life
  • group analysis of literary excerpts: ‘I was born’
  • writing exercise: ‘I was born.’

Session Two: Remembering Childhood

  • The Writing Life: writers’ studios and the writing discipline
  • writing exercise: ‘My Writing Space’
  • writing tips and guidelines for the presentation of work
  • edit workshop: a group exercise
  • group analysis of literary excerpts: ‘Remembering Childhood’
  • writing exercise: ‘Remembering Childhood’

Session Three: Riding the Teenage Years

  • Identifying themes, finding the ideal form for your story, demystifying the process
  • writing exercise: ‘Identifying my themes’
  • Reviewing memoir — your impressions
  • Tips on editing, writing a brief bio and posting a story
  • writing exercise: ‘Riding the Teenage years’

Session Four: The Road Chosen and a mentoring session 

  • writing exercise: ‘The Road Chosen: On Career, Family and Lifelong Passions’
  • individual mentoring sessions with Deborah Shepard

Session five: 

  • group reading of participants’ stories posted on ‘Your Story’
  • the defining qualities of successful authors
  • how to protect your writing project and continue the work
  • performing opportunities
  • group analysis of literary excerpts: a self-portrait
  • writing exercise: ‘A self-portrait: where to from here?’
  • shared lunch

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, participants will be able to: continue the reading programme established on the course, using my bibliography and read memoir critically sit down and write with confidence write for online publication continue writing their memoir for book publication, for blogging, as an essay, for a family history project and perform the writing at the monthly Inside Out Open Mic forum.

Who should attend?

This course is designed for: new writers, people who are interested in writing and are newcomers to the genre people who want to discover their writing voice people who want to record their stories for their family people who want to write and publish their life story people who want to explore their inner world and express their thoughts and feelings and observations and transform them into literature young and older writers people who have written in another genre such as fiction or poetry, or non-fiction and who want to explore memoir.


  • 15 - 19 July
  • $310.00 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus
  • Presented by Deborah Shepard

July 2019

5 X sessions, Monday 15 – 19 July 2019, 9:30am – 1:00pm
Cost- $310.00 incl. GST


Presented by

Deborah Shepard

Deborah Shepard

Presentations Skills Coach

Deborah Shepard is a biographer, oral historian, journaler and life writing mentor for the New Zealand Society of Authors with many years of experience teaching memoir through Public Porgrammes and the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Her books include: Reframing Women: A History of New Zealand Film (2000), Between the Lives: Partners in Art (2005), Her Life’s Work (2009) all of which were critically acclaimed for documenting the contribution of women to the arst in New Zealand. Her journal Giving Yourself to Life: A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal (2015) was described by poet, journal writer and novelist Elizabeth Smither as, “Humane, delicate and bold as the journals of May Sarton or Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s observation of her snail. Her latest book The Writing Life: Twelve New Zealand Authors (2018) provides an inspirational glimpse into the writing lives of twelve of New Zealand’s most loved and acclaimed elder authors.

In her spare time Deborah enjoys photographing nature and posting her photos with short stories on Instagram.

Related courses

Voice in Action

Voice in Action

Voice in Action explores the basic tools of voice production, and how you can use these to your communication advantage, both in your personal and professional life.