Our free weekly newsletter is fun, informative, interactive and the must-have accessory this summer.
Sign up

Writing in Paris

Writing in Paris

Writing classes in the mornings from Australia’s best memoir writing mentor, Patti Miller. In the afternoon, you’ll explore the streets of this amazing city. Read more

Share this

Upcoming dates

StartsThursday 22 October 2015 to Saturday 7 November 2015

Location Paris,
Memoir Writing in Paris

When17 days and 16 nights tour
(including 8-day writing program)

PricePlease see itinerary for price

Presenters Patti Miller

Your unique writing program

Imagine living in an apartment in Paris. You’ll be learning the art of writing in the mornings from Australia’s best memoir writing mentor, Patti Miller. In the afternoon, you’ll explore the streets of this amazing city, soak up the Parisian atmosphere, people watch in the cafes, sample delicious French cuisine and check out gorgeous shops and attractions. Welcome to the Australian Writers’ Centre’s study tour, Memoir Writing in Paris.

Writing memoir in Paris – it is early autumn, the traditional season of memory and reflection, the light and leaves are golden, the cafes buzz with discussion – and your heart and mind sing with the richness of history, beauty and pleasure as you step out of your own apartment on the way to writing class.

Here is the city made for and by writers, revolutionaries, poets, philosophers, painters – the city of imagination, memory and art. Here indeed is the birthplace of modern memoir where the philosopher Rousseau wrote his autobiography, Confessions. Join us for this memoir intensive to immerse yourself in ideas, beauty and writing for 17 days in the city of light.

This is 17 days that could change your life.

A Writing Course

This writing sojourn is centred on a series of eight half-day classes with Australia’s leading teacher of memoir, Patti Miller. The classes run from 10am to 1pm, Monday to Thursday each week, the equivalent of two courses (12 weeks) at the Australian Writers’ Centre. This course offers a deep immersion in the ideas, techniques and practice of writing memoir and has been designed to extend and enrich all levels of experience.

Each day will follow a rhythmic pattern with classes in the morning, including a coffee break with treats from the local boulangerie. In class we will cover such topics as Beginning Again, Original Memory, Texture and Detail, the Narrator, Narrative Structure, the Difficulties of Truth Telling, Organising your Material, Structural Trouble-shooting, the Borderlands with Fiction, Travel Memoir, and many other writing issues. The course is shaped around the writing text, The Memoir Book, with a booklet of extra Readings provided.

Also included is a one-hour individual writing consultation with your writing guide, Patti Miller. During this time you can discuss your personal writing issues in depth without interruption. This is an invaluable opportunity to sort through and solve those writing blocks – and all in the unique ambience of a Parisian café. Then the afternoons are free for your own writing – or exploring the delights of Paris.

A Literary feast

Writing is enriched by the experience of a literary culture and so this sojourn also offers a range of literary experiences:

  • A carefully selected and thought-provoking reading list will be provided well before your departure date to inspire you in exciting literary directions.
  • A comprehensive lecture on French literature will be given before the writing course begins. You will be introduced not just to Zola and Balzac, but Colette and Duras and Houellebecq and many more.
  • A literary ramble with notes will be prepared, so that you can wander the streets noting where Victor Hugo lived and where Jean Rhys recovered after a night in Montmartre and where Henry Miller found his inspiration.
  • A literary ‘soirée’ at one of the English bookshops in Paris is on the schedule as it’s always a great way to have your finger on the writing pulse. You can listen to readings and ask questions of a leading contemporary writer in the intimate atmosphere of the Village Voice or Shakespeare’s bookshop.
  • And, most importantly, our cafes and restaurants have been chosen for their literary and artistic significance as well as their fine food and wine. We can drink with Hemingway’s ghost or have coffee with Sartre and de Beauvoir or enjoy the company of hundreds of other memoirists, poets, novelists and playwrights who have made Paris their home over the centuries.

The Writer’s Life in Parisian Apartment

One of the most exciting and original aspects of this sojourn is that you will be living the writing life in an individual and authentic Parisian apartment, not in a tourist hotel. You will have the thrill of getting to know your own boulanger as you buy your croissants and baguette for breakfast, make your way to class in the morning along rues bustling with life, join new friends from class for lunch in a local café, visit the Pompidou Centre or the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay in the afternoon, and meet your fellow writers for a glass of wine at a writers’ haunt in the evening, then go on to dinner or a concert at the Opera or a jazz club – or return to your apartment and write!

We have selected a variety of apartments each within one of the fascinating arrondissements (localities) of central Paris. All will be within either a walk or easy Metro or bus ride of the class venue. Each one is privately owned so each varies in size and style, and has its own charm and appeal. Furnishings and equipment are of good quality and everything necessary is supplied including sheets and towels, which are changed once a week.

Each participant has their own door key to come and go as they please. The apartments will contain a welcome pack of basic food requirements when you arrive. While the Australian Writers’ Centre will try to oblige a preference for a locality, for logistical reasons we must reserve the right to allocate apartments.

There are three possible apartment arrangements (costs vary):

  • Twin share – sharing an apartment and twin beds in one bedroom
  • Share – sharing an apartment with your own bedroom
  • Single – an apartment to yourself

Because the experience of living as a writer in Paris is the heart of this sojourn, we will give all the information you will need to be independent and confident in finding your way to class, using the Metro, doing your own food shopping – at exciting street markets, if you wish – and making your own discoveries of Paris.

We offer suggestions for interesting walks around Paris and how to find out what is on and where.

We also offer a choice between two optional tours – either an Insiders’ Walking Tour of a particular locality in Paris, or a trip to Chartres, a medieval town with one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Europe. You can decide on which tours, if either, you want to go on, when you are in Paris. We will also have some group meals – lunches and dinners – in specially chosen Belle Èpoque brasseries or restaurants.

Your Paris guides

Patti Miller is your tour director and writing teacher. She is the author of the best-selling Writing Your Life, the most popular text for life writing in Australia, as well as The Last One Who Remembers, Child, Whatever The Gods Do and The Memoir Book. Her latest book, The Mind of a Thief, was released in April 2012.

Many of her personal essays and articles have been published in literary magazines and Good Weekend and other national publications. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in writing from UTS. and has 20 years’ teaching experience in universities and writers’ centres around Australia and in Fiji and Paris. She spent a year, 2003-2004, writing in Paris and is thus familiar with the joys and rewards it offers. To find out more about Patti’s writing and teaching visit www.lifestories.com.au.

Martine Hamel is your tour manager. Martine is a born and bred Parisienne, but lived in the USA for a number of years. She speaks fluent English as well as French, of course, and is experienced at welcoming visitors to her beloved city. She has worked in vacation rentals for many years and knows how to help you find your feet in Paris. She also knows the history and culture of Paris intimately and has a great love and knowledge of English, French and Italian literature.

Past participants

Former participant Pamela Bradley went to learn Writing in Paris with Patti Miller a few years ago. Last year, the journey she started in her Parisian apartment, culminated in the release of her book Nefertiti Street.

Patti has also helped 20 other writers turn their life stories into successful commercial books. These include: Jenny Kee’s A Big Life; Annarosa
Berman’s Sex at Six O’Clock; Kate Shayler’s The Long Way Home and Caroline Jones’ An Authentic Life.

Please note: bookings paid by credit card will attract a small credit card processing fee.


  • Patti Miller

    Patti Miller, Melbourne, Sydney

    Patti Miller has taught creative writing, with a particular focus on autobiographical writing, for more than 20 years.... View Profile

Graduate testimonials

  • “I would recommend this tour as a life-changing experience. Patti is a fabulous, generous, inspiring and knowledgeable teacher.”

    Anni Webster

    “A life-changing trip. I had no expectations on leaving Australia as to whether this would be a good “holiday” or not, but it was a revelation .A wonderful experience, well worth the money. Do it, and let yourself be swept away by the Paris experience.”

    Roslyn Phillips

    “I loved the opportunity to step out of my everyday life and immerse myself in a totally different culture and set of experiences. I liked looking at this new world with the eyes of a writer. I liked taking part in the workshops and concentrating on literary topics. Patti was an inspiration. Her presentations were professional and well thought out. Her advice was honest and encouraging. I liked the way she led the workshops, discussions and class sharing with a compassionate, but no–nonsense manner. It was an experience that I will hold dear forever.”

    Wendy Fitzgerald

  • “The trip exceeded all expectations. It was an extraordinary two weeks that provided invaluable input and established new friends and writing contacts. And all this in Paris – ‘a postgraduate course in everything!'”

    Anne Whaite

Writing in Ubud

The art and craft of writing the senses

Come with writer Patti Miller to Ubud for a unique writing enrichment course. This will show you how to create the colour, texture and weave of lived experience on the page. More detail

Share this course

Upcoming course dates

Starts2016 dates to be announced

Location Ubud
Balinese Writing Retreat

When8 days and 7 nights tour
(including 5-day writing program)

PricePlease see itinerary for price

Presenter Patti Miller

Book Now

Course description

Enrich your writing with the sensory richness of your creative expression

Come with writer Patti Miller to the highland town of Ubud, the artistic centre of Bali, for a unique writing enrichment course. Whether you are writing from actual or imaginary life – memoir, autobiography, short stories or novels – The Art and Craft of Writing the Senses will show you how to create the colour, texture and weave of lived experience on the page.

This is a very special writing course, uniquely focused on developing the sensory richness of your creative expression. Immersed in the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of highland Bali, mind, heart and body all engaged in the writing process, you will explore how to translate the physical world of the senses into words.

The Art and Craft of Writing the Senses will reveal how the secret of powerful writing is to create a world our senses will believe is real. Brimming with both creative and sensory delights, Ubud is the perfect place to ‘write the senses’.

Staying in your own room at a beautiful resort set on the outskirts of Ubud, you will be able to write every day and explore the ancient culture of Bali. We will have welcome and farewell meals together and breakfast and morning tea are also included.

The writing course

In the peaceful, creative and luscious atmosphere of Ubud, long regarded as a cultural capital of Indonesia, this writing course will re-awaken your senses. You will taste, touch, see, smell and hear the world again. You will read and discuss extracts from a wide variety of writers such as Annie Dillard and Patrick Susskind, and participate in exercises designed to revitalise and extend your creativity.

Each morning for five days, from 10am to 1pm, the workshops will offer readings, discussions and writing exercises designed to re-awaken the senses and heighten observation, to explore the rich symbolic world of sensory images. You’ll learn how to use the senses to convey – or create – scene, characters and texture. You’ll also discover how sensual writing can be used to further narrative and even to convey ideas.

If you want to move from more factual styles of writing – academic, journalistic, technical or report writing – or simply feel your writing needs revitalising, then this workshop will help you make the leap into the rich textured world of powerful writing. This workshop is for both memoir and fiction writers and, whether you feel you are a beginner or more experienced, it will extend your creativity and enrich your writing.

Cultural experience

In the afternoons you will be able to write in the solitude and quiet of your own room, or you can head out to explore the fascinating town and countryside of Ubud. You can walk in the Monkey Forest and rice paddies; visit local temples and enjoy the vibrant colour of ritual and ceremonies; immerse yourself in the arts and crafts at the famous Neki Gallery or at nearby artist villages. If you like, you can take a cultural tour arranged by our tour manager to explore more of the richness of Bali.

In the evenings you can attend a performance of the traditional Barong or Kecak dances or simply enjoy some of the exquisite local cuisine. And of course, there are also the delights of the Ubud market, the rejuvenating pleasure of a therapeutic Balinese massage, or a quiet coffee at the Lotus Pond café, whenever you need a break from writing.

Your tour director and writing teacher – Patti Miller

Patti Miller is a highly experienced writer of both memoir and fiction, and a writing teacher. She is the author of the best-selling Writing Your Life, The Last One Who Remembers, Child, Whatever The Gods Do and The Memoir Book.

She has taught writing at university and writers’ centres for over 20 years and has taken a number of writing workshops in Paris and Fiji. Her inspiring approach to writing is both passionate and attentive to the art and craft of writing. For a list of publications and further information on her work see her website: www.lifestories.com.au.

Your presenters

  • Patti Miller

    Patti Miller, Melbourne, Sydney

    Patti Miller has taught creative writing, with a particular focus on autobiographical writing, for more than 20 years.... View Profile

Graduate testimonials

  • "An experience I would certainly recommend and one that I will personally treasure."

    - Pam Lynch

    "The course has opened my mind to attend to the details of writing and the sensory input that can create a world and characters to draw the reader in. The ideas and inspiration that came from participating in this writing course exceeded anything I might have anticipated. Patti is very focussed and very professional. Every lesson was well prepared and delivered with a great understanding of how we, the students, could develop and deepen our writing skills. Patti is passionate about her art and she shared her knowledge generously. I loved the whole experience. At a very personal level, in relation to my writing, it has been life- changing. It is an invaluable opportunity to inform your writing and take it to another level."

    - Jo McCann

    "I am so inspired by the course. I found even personal writing becoming more sensory by the end of the week. I have come away with brand new ideas for stories and a new focus for my passion. I cannot fault the Australian Writers' Centre's service. They have great courses, great teachers. It's a dynamic centre for writers to find like-minded people."

    - Rebecca Smedley