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.
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.
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
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…)
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 –
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.’
loved hearing the group’s contributions –
motivational, humbling, beautifully human.’
‘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.’
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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