“We can learn so much about the people around us—even about the people you already know—just by taking the time to have a conversation. And if you pay just a little attention, you’ll find wisdom and poetry in their words … Most people love to be listened to because it tells them how much their lives matter,” says Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, in a short video that introduces its purpose.
The San Francisco Public Library on Larkin Street is a permanent StoryBooth location. That means you can book a time for a StoryCorps interview, bring a friend or family member along to informally interview you at that time, and then have your recorded story preserved for others to listen to online, in the official archives at The Library of Congress American Folklife Center, or to be shared with loved ones in person.
For your own sake, or for the sake of others who would benefit from receiving your words, there are many ways that you can go about sharing your life story. Especially as an older adult, with a wealth of life experience and insight, it’s so important to pass along not just your wisdom, but also the richness of your personal growth experiences themselves. You may find a path to sharing with your family and its younger generations, or through an organization like StoryCorps that embraces and promotes story sharing more universally, or through artistic expression and writing.
The memoir has become a powerful literary genre and a generous invitation for anyone to explore their life story through writing. Because there may be more encouraging and inspiring resources than you realize right around the corner, we’ve pulled together a list of memoir writing classes here in San Francisco.
San Francisco’s Memoir Writing Classes for Older Adults to Explore
Memoir writing may provide older adults a way to better handle transitions and to reconnect with their identity in the midst of role reversals and other life challenges. It may help them to feel a strong sense of purpose as they preserve their life story for others to visit long into the future. It is an activity that anyone can pick up—from casual journaling to more formal story writing, there is no one right way to craft a memoir. And it doesn’t take any special skills or tools; you need only a pen and paper or a computer. (In fact, you can check out our quick-start memoir writing prompts here. (link to memoir prompts post) But classes can offer another great benefit for older adults: a path out of loneliness as they integrate within writing communities. Below are some local centers of creativity that offer memoir writing classes and workshops.
490 2nd Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
The Grotto is a multimedia workplace where community members gather to find and share their productivity and success. The writing center offers classes in various genres, including memoir. Check out their upcoming class schedule for unique ways of approaching memoir and writing in general.
The Writing Salon
2042 Balboa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: (510) 982-6252
The Writing Salon is a welcoming center for creativity and community. They offer one-day workshops and classes that continue for a number of weeks. Visit their list of on-site classes to see if anything captures your interest.
Ripe Fruit School of Creative Writing
469 Hill Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Phone: (415) 337-4369
Classes and workshops at Ripe Fruit follow a special approach designed to help you grow with your writing. The Memoir and Personal Essay Writing Classes typically continue for 8 weeks, one day per week. Check their class page for more information and to register.
1695 18th Street #409
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (323) 333-2954
What started as a small series of classes in the founder’s home—her “pad”—has grown into an award-winning hub of classes and workshops. Here, you can find a list of San Francisco classes, including memoir and personal essay.
Life Story Writing Rekindles a Fire for Older Adults
Writing your life story may actually serve as a gateway to thriving in older age. Engaging in memoir writing requires you to pause, to step one foot into the past, even while you keep the other grounded in the present. After all, it is from this present vantage point that you are able to look back on your past experiences. Likewise, from this present vantage point, you can look toward and plan for the future.
Reviewing certain lessons and pieces of wisdom during your memoir process may serve as valuable wake up calls to help you recalibrate your present course into the unknown ahead. In fact—even though memoir writing places so much emphasis on the past—this process may be the very thing that can wake you up to an appreciation of your future and the next story your life is waiting to tell.
For more tips, visit our guide to writing your life story. When you get started, we’d be so happy for you to share your project with us. Reach out to us with your creation or any questions you may have. Our programs and services can help you to make your personal life story even more rewarding.