Memoir Generator

"This was a tremendous experience. I learned so much about the craft that I know I wouldn't have gotten in a 15 week MFA level course."

-Memoir Generator student

In a Nutshell

An intensive program designed to help students in the early stages of writing a full-length memoir. The program will provide an environment that encourages exploration and supports the writing process, and it will offer an in-depth study of the book-length memoir form. Find out more about application requirements hereApplications for the 2021-2022 Memoir Generator are now closed. All applicants will hear from us in late August, 2021.

Open House and Info Session

Thinking of applying? GrubStreet is offers an informal Q+A session each summer to answer any questions you have about the Generator, including the workload, the application process, what the program does and doesn’t entail, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else on your mind. Details about the next session will be posted here when they become available.

Overview and Goals

The Memoir Generator will take 14 students through the early stages of writing a memoir, giving them a chance to create as many as 150 pages of a draft while thoroughly exploring the relationship between the full-length memoir form and their own material. The program will have four phases. In Phase I, students will spend four weeks studying two book-length memoirs and participating in craft lectures, discussions, and exercises designed to generate ideas and pages. In Phase II, students will spend 12 weeks writing and workshopping using the Memoir in Progress method, reading scenes or sections aloud for on-the-spot feedback. In Phase III, which lasts 4 weeks, students will be paired up for weekly check-ins, but they will write largely on their own. Finally, in Phase IV, the class will meet four times to talk about the possibilities for these new pages, the new sense of the story that has emerged, and next steps.


This class is not an alternative to the Memoir Incubator, which is a year-long program for students wishing to workshop and complete a book-length memoir manuscript in preparation for pursuing publication. The goal of this class is to help students generate pages and gain a deep knowledge of the fundamentals of the memoir form. It is our hope that after taking the Memoir Generator, students will be ready to apply to the Incubator or to an MFA program in nonfiction. 


Why We Started This Program

While GrubStreet has a 10-week program devoted to helping students work on their memoir material, many students say they would like a longer and more intensive class, one in which students have the time to study one or more common texts, learn about how to structure and think about long-form memoir, and move beyond the idea of merely documenting what has happened to them. In most memoirs, the writer has to move away from a preconceived idea of what certain life experiences mean, and write toward what they don’t yet understand about the story and what it means. The finished memoirs you read are the product of lots of messy drafts, and lots of searching for the bigger story and why it’s important. Writers need a supportive environment, time, and many pages to explore the story they think they want to tell.


“ This was my favorite writing class I've ever taken!”

“Michelle is phenomenal. I hope to take another class from her in the future. She knows how to set the tone of a class like this, which is absolutely essential. Her insights were spot on, and her edits were great. I'm so grateful I got the chance to learn from her.”

“I really enjoyed it. Very comfortable, safe environment. I think we all wanted it to continue.”

“This was a tremendous experience. I learned so much about the craft that I know I wouldn't have gotten in a 15 week MFA level course.” 

“I might take it again! I grew so much as a writer. I took risks that I had never before taken.”

Important Dates

  •  Applications for the 2021-2022 Memoir Generator are now closed.

  • Application deadline was July 26th, 2021
  • All applicants will be notified by late August, 2021
  • Program starts on September 16th, 2021

Covid-19 Update

GrubStreet is planning to hold all of its classes using Zoom video conferencing until it becomes safe to meet in person in Boston. We are monitoring the public health situation closely, and while we expect this program will be able to meet in person in Boston eventually, all applicants should be prepared to participate via Zoom for as long as necessary.

Prospective applicants to the Memoir Generator or any other Incubator or Generator programs at Grub should either be local to Massachusetts/Boston area, or able to relocate in the event that the class can at some point meet in person. GrubStreet will be following the lead of health experts and the city of Boston, and working alongside other arts organizations in our decision-making regarding in-person classes. In the event that it’s absolutely safe to meet again, the opportunity will be provided to our intensive programs to gather in person. We will of course offer the possibility to participate remotely if a student is unable to attend in person for health reasons, but as with previous years, local community building is an integral aspect of these programs.

We've moved!

Learn more about GrubStreet's new
Center for Creative Writing.

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