Writing Memoir Without Fear

Avoiding Legal Issues, Trauma, and Your Mom’s Hurt Feelings


Allison K Williams


Live on Monday, Feb. 27, or watch the recording


Memoirists who want to tell their truth while honoring privacy and personal boundaries


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

Writing about your kids. Your mom. Your ex. The other patients. That famous person who influenced your journey for good or ill. Putting other people in your memoir and revealing their bad behavior can threaten your relationships and stress you out. Revealing your own bad behavior can be just as challenging—how can you truly show what happened without making everyone hate you when they find out?

We all have a right to tell our own experience, but it’s hard to feel sure about our words when we’re wading through dark memories. In this 75-minute live webinar, taught by Allison K Williams, you’ll gain tools and skills for sharing your truth on the page without retraumatizing yourself as you write. You’ll learn key strategies for avoiding legal action and hurting feelings while writing truthful characters and scenes. And you’ll discover how to navigate real-life relationships with tact and confidence while feeling good about bringing your words into the world.

This workshop will cover:

  • Writing into, around, or through the pain—and how to choose what most supports your work
  • Defining your own ethical practices for privacy and safety without compromising your creative flow
  • Identifying who in your life needs advance notice—and how “giving awareness” is different from “seeking approval.”
  • Five strategies for telling the bitter truth without ruining fragile relationships
  • When and how to disguise medical professionals, fellow patients, notable people and your own family
  • Actual legal issues to consider vs. amorphous fears of “being sued.”
  • What makes a protective and useful disclaimer for your book (Including sample disclaimers to copy and adapt!)
  • How to build audience and platform for controversial and/or very personal topics
  • Dealing with social media trolls (and sure-fire scripts for deflecting real-life busybodies!)

Who should take this class

  • Writers who want to honor their family’s privacy and their personal boundaries while telling important truths
  • Book coaches and editors working with memoirists
  • Memoirists who want to finish their book, but fear or reluctance is blocking their creative power
  • Essayists working towards a unified collection, or pitching personal essays with privacy concerns
  • Writers approaching the submissions process and nervous about family reactions to their published work
  • Authors building platform and unsure of how much to share on social media
  • Creative Writing students and MFA graduates who need more specific guidance on how to tell their own story with maturity in their writing

Who should NOT take this class

  • Allison presented this class in both 2021 and 2022. The substance of the presentation has not fundamentally changed, so anyone who attended in the past will not necessarily gain new understanding from this iteration.

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Monday, Feb. 27
  • Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Registration fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

About the instructor

Author of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to Book, Allison K Williams has edited and coached writers to publishing deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, and St. Martin’s Press as well as hybrid and independent presses. She’s guided essayists and humorists to publication in media including the New Yorker, Time, the Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney’s, Refinery29, Hippocampus, the Belladonna and TED Talks. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with weekly blogs on craft and the writing life.

As a memoirist, essayist, and travel journalist, Allison has written craft, culture and comedy for National Public Radio, CBC-Canada, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Kenyon Review Online, the Prairie Schooner blog, the Drum and Travelers’ Tales and Flash Nonfiction Funny.

Allison holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and spent 20 years as a circus aerialist and acrobat before writing and editing full-time. She leads the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats series.


I am so glad I attended Allison’s webinar. It is exactly what I needed. I don’t need a cheerleader to tell me my story is important, I need no-nonsense how-to. This was that! THANK YOU!!!!

Jamie Beth Cohen

You’re the best presenter I’ve seen in quite a while: efficient, clearly knowledgeable, pleasant to listen to, and provided great value.

Dawn Lybarger

Allison, working with you has totally transformed me as a writer. I wake up in the morning and I am ITCHING to write. I feel like I have to get all of this out of me, and I’m enjoying the process for the first time, really…at last, I know where I’m going with this book.

Amy Evrard Young

All students receive the following

  • Access to the 75-minute live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Allison will take questions using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes. If we can’t get to all of the questions live, Allison will answer them in writing and you’ll receive the answers with the recording.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Resource list with sample disclaimers, sources for legal information and suggested additional reading

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.