From Memories to the Page: The Gentle, Wild Art of Memoir Writing (via ZOOM)

CLASSES FORMING NOW. We have beginning and experienced writers Zooming in from all over the country now. You need only a notebook, WIFI, and your favorite pen. 
“This is what I have learned: that everybody is talented, original, and has something important to say.”—Brenda Ueland, If You Want To Write

 7 THURSDAY MORNINGS, 10/27 – 12/15 (no class 11/24)

10 AM -Noon Eastern Time       $195.

We’ll work with prompts, timed writing, structured positive feedback, and during this session, we will polish our first drafts.

Open to adults, ages 55 and up. Beginning writers welcome. All levels of writing experience will benefit. Classes happen on ZOOM. You’ll need WIFI, a notebook and a pen. CLASS SIZE IS LIMITED.


To secure your spot, call/text/email and send a check to:

Barbara Mayfield, P.O. Box 22, Gladwyne, PA 19072  (This is a NEW P.O.Box)

Or pay by Venmo:  

@BarbaraMayfield (If Venmo prompts, 4774 are the phone digits)

Re: Missed Classes: I send the prompts no matter what. 


How this course came to be:
When I returned to the Philly area in 2012, after living for 21 years in the Southwest, I had  time on my hands in between new work searches. One day, I logged onto Ancestry and found some of my people. I visited the graves of my grandparents and found the graves of my great grandies — the ones who’d crossed the Atlantic in a ship to come to America. I had little to no information about their lives.
I so wished to know about them and their life experiences.
Then a friend recommended me to the Free Library of Philadelphia Senior Services department which was looking for someone to create an 8-week course in memoir writing for their library patrons. I developed a curriculum, and then worked for 8 weeks with a wildly diverse group of 20 seniors (ages 55 to 87), in-person and on-site at the Main Branch in the city. What a ride it was!!
Four years ago I began to offer the course privately to small groups. The pandemic drove the class onto Zoom 2 years ago. and now people from all over the country are participating.
My goal: no more great grandkids with zero information about the ones whose lives led to their own. 
It’s hard to describe the magic that happens in these weekly 2-hour workshops. Creative “prompts” open up the memory banks and stories come flooding onto the pages, one after the other. The stories are like jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit together.
Life’s curves and curveballs make a powerful whole.
Everyone’s story is valuable and worth telling.



“I can’t tell you how much the writing classes have meant to me. I started out thinking I had nothing of value to say and couldn’t write it well anyway. Now, I love just jumping right in and writing. Thank you s000000000000000000000000000000 much.E.Y. Richmond, VA  
“Barbara’s nurturing and detailed feedback has allowed me to tap into the sort of writing that I did not think was possible for me. Her prompts and method of listening and offering suggestions are very effective, supportive, and result oriented.” —A.B., Bala Cynwyd, PA
“I have enjoyed these memoir classes immensely, every single one! I also appreciate all the people taking part!” —P.B. Haverford, PA

 Contact Barbara


The Memoir Writing Course was first developed and taught for the Free Library of Philadelphia.
The Memoir Writing Course was first developed for the Free Library of Philadelphia.

ABOUT THE COURSE: The Gentle, Wild Art of Memoir Writing: This is a six-week curriculum which brings together grown-ups, ages 55 and up, who have lived to tell. We meet for two hours each week to study the craft of writing and to write, write, write life stories.

The process? Memories are jogged in unique and creative ways. Resistance and procrastination issues are addressed. Writing blocks are gently dissolved. Important aspects of the craft of writing are taught. Students learn how to give and receive positive feedback and encouragement, and to develop a personal writing practice that works. Methods of binding and presentation of the essays and short stories are addressed.

This memoir writing course was developed by Barbara Mayfield in 2014 and first offered at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Branch. Twenty men and women, ages 55 to 87,  wrote, read, and polished their life stories. A few were professional writers, most were writing for the first time. Since then, sessions have been held at the Trails End Cafe,  Main Line Art Center, the Narberth Bookshop, and at Barbara’s studio in Norristown. As of March 10th, 2020, we are meeting for class online using the ZOOM video conferencing program. It’s easy and it works. No matter where you live, these sessions are available to you now. Let’s get your memories onto the page.


“The range of voices in the class is amazing. The fact that everyone is writing so authentically is because of your safe container and gentle encouragement……you’ve got the special sauce!”—E.K. Villanova, PA

“The memoir course being given at the senior center (Free Library of Phila Senior Services) by Barbara Mayfield is the best program I have ever gone to at the library and I have gone to many wonderful ones at FLP since I was a small child. It is a miracle that for the first time, I am able to overcome writing blocks, to be able to both write and share aloud my writing.”—H.L., Philadelphia, PA

“I make my living as a storyteller, and I know my way around a narrative arc, character development, plot pacing, and creative blocks. But no artist every outgrows the need for structured learning situations and master teachers, like Barbara Mayfield…..Ms. Mayfield creates a safe structure where nothing is off limits, everybody is nudged toward the edge of their comfort zones, but nobody is pushed….”—Megan Hicks, Storyteller, Rose Valley, PA

Contact Barbara about enrolling in a course or to bring the course to your group via Zoom.

Michelle's memoir essays, gathered together in a casual format.
One at a time, the stories add up.