When you write from the heart you heal your heart.

My ‘Writing from the Heart’ workshop helps you to find your unique voice and learn the skills to express your deep truth. Over two days you are encouraged to dig deeply in the rich garden of your life, to explore your past experiences and capture your own expressions of love, exultation, grief, anger, pride, forgiveness.

The workshop moves away from the competitive atmosphere that can pervade writing activities into an exploratory, creative atmosphere which honours and celebrates individuality, our shared experiences during the workshop, and our unique responses to these experiences.

Most participants find this workshop to be deeply healing and even transformative.

I have identified four stages in this healing process as we move from cathartic writing to transformational writing.

Stage 1. Cathartic

By using right brain processes, participants allow their thoughts and feelings to rise and flow onto the page. Unearthing what may have been buried is deeply rewarding and may begin the process of healing. Such cathartic writing is sometimes known as ‘Expressive Writing’ and is used by many therapists to facilitate access to past traumas and to initiate the beginnings of recovery.

As a writer, I help participants take their writing into new realms by opening them to the transforming power of the imagination and conscious creation.

Stage 2. Clarification

Once the experience has been explored and committed to paper, you are given certain writing skills so you become more consciously aware of what you are working with. Clarification may mean further delving into the experience. The use of metaphor or symbol may be required. Certainly the written words need to be examined for their impact on the reader.

Both the creative and the analytic parts of the brain have now been engaged in uncovering, understanding and re-telling. This intense engagement with the experience is something most people do not do – unless they are writers. And it takes the healing process further. By defining and refining the experience a certain emotional distancing occurs.

Stage 3. Creation

Now you are encouraged to look at the experience as a springboard, as a point of departure, as something to create with which may reveal some important aspect of what it is to be human. I introduce various fiction techniques such as scene setting, the use of the senses to ground the experience, and a consideration of which tense will be most effective. You, as creator decide who is going to tell the story – the person who experienced it or someone else? Where will it begin? How will you choose to end it? What are you trying to reveal in the story? What will increase the reader’s enjoyment?

Thus you create a story that has its roots in your personal experience but is now transcending that experience in order to connect with a reader. The emphasis is on creating something new rather than coming to terms with an experience. The original experience, which may have been deeply traumatic, can now be seen to have a new and wonderful purpose.

What I am discussing is a ‘normal’ process for writers. Interestingly, William Faulkner considered that all writers write in order to heal themselves. The French writer Flaubert, took this concept even further by claiming: ‘Fiction is…the response to a deep and always hidden wound.’ I don’t particularly like the blanket supposition, but what is being expressed is the power of writing to be healing when it is honest and comes from a deep personal centre. (Of course it may also help to heal the reader, but that is another story…)

Stage 4. Sharing

Cathartic writing is generally for the writer and her therapist. The writing I am interested in and which I teach, is designed for readers – or, in the workshop situation – the listeners.

Understandably, participants are often fearful of sharing their personal experiences so I am careful to create a safe, non-judgmental space where people can choose to share their writing, or not. Most do. Listeners often have tears in their eyes. In turn the writer is moved by this empathy and feels supported, respected and validated. Many people express that this is the first time they have dared to share a particular story and how liberating it has been for them.

Magic is an emotive word, but then we are working with the heart, so I shall use it. Magic takes place in these workshops. Many people are transformed by what they have discovered about themselves and about others. As people begin to tap into their own creative power and energy their faces often glow with excitement and the exhilaration of discovery.

Time and again participants mention: validation, empowerment, new perspectives, joy, excitement, and a sense of wonder at what they have accomplished and the satisfaction that they now have tools they can use for the rest of their lives.



‘You are such an inspiration. Your experience gives you understanding and compassion for others. Writing from the Heart
 has opened a door to a new way of living my life.

‘You are much more than a writing instructor; you are a teacher of life. Your workshop was better than going to a psych-

‘Your workshop gave me permission to say ‘I’, to share profound personal reflections which are universal as well. To dive
into the depths without the critic on my shoulder. A heartfelt thank you.’

‘I loved hearing the group’s contributions – motivational, humbling, beautifully human.’ Debra

‘It made me cry when I heard myself reading my words. My feelings were not considered, so I locked them up and shut
them away…until now.’

‘I haven’t done any writing since high school. I have been shown in this weekend experience the blockage I had in my
writing; memories from where it came from; grievances I have held in my mind over many years around writing. I have
now let that blockage go. Thank you for the experience. Thank you for showing me what was unhealed n my mind.’


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