Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Writing as Therapy online courses [June 11]

This year I will be running some Writing as Therapy courses online. Class numbers will be limited to approximately ten participants, but if the course books out I am happy to schedule some more classes.

ABOUT THE COURSE

Writing is a tried and tested method for coping with and understanding personal dilemmas, crises, depression, anxieties, stress and traumatic events. The simple act of putting down words on the page can reflect our attempt to make meaning from the thoughts and feelings and experiences we have. It helps us to gain distance from the things that cause us distress. From keeping a daily diary to penning a poem, all forms of writing can help us to shape narrative from chaos. Therapeutic writing can also help us re-discover our playful selves.

In this four part course on Writing As Therapy, I will lead you through a series of ideas and exercises in therapeutic writing, using a variety of techniques and exploring the methods that might work best for you. Each session will involve a mix of listening, thinking, writing, reading and brainstorming.

No experience is necessary and grammar, spelling and writing ability are irrelevant. All participants need to bring is an urge to understand and express themselves, a computer and/or notepad and pen. Everyone’s writing will be kept as private as participants wish.

1) The Situation and the Story

The place to which our writer finally puzzles her way (is): her own mixed feelings. First she sees that she has them. Then she acknowledges them to herself. Then she considers them as a way into the experience: then she realizes they are the experience. She begins to write.’ Vivian Gornick.

The first session involves a gentle introduction to some key concepts in writing as therapy, including; catharsis, self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-transformation. Drawing on the work of Vivian Gornick (author of ‘The Situation and the Story’) we will learn how to distinguish between the ‘situations’ we find ourselves in, and the ‘stories’ we want to tell ourselves about our life. We will employ simple writing techniques to identify the internal conversations we have with ourselves (the dialogical self), and learn how these conversations can help us resolve the challenges we are facing.

2) The Made Up Self

‘Whenever we write in the first person, reflecting on our personal experience, we inevitably create a version of ourselves, crafting a self out of words’. Carl Klaus

Drawing on the work of sociologist Erving Goffman (who developed self-presentation theory), writer Carl Klaus (author of ‘The Made Up Self’) and re-visiting the idea of ‘the dialogical self’, in this session we will look at how we ‘perform’ our lives, how we ‘make ourselves up’ in our writing, and how understanding the different ‘personas’ we perform can help us get distance and perspective on our travails. American writer Ander Monson (in ‘Vanishing Point’) suggests we ask ourselves ‘what’s at stake’ when we’re thinking and writing about our lives. What remains to be resolved? How can writing help us identify and move through the unexpressed choices and conflicts in our lives?

3) The Savage Mind

‘I realise it’s my own consciousness I need to confront. Perhaps by writing about myself I’ll discover my own identity. Regardless, I’ll have to stare at the rough edges of sadness in my life.’ Patricia Foster

Drawing on the work of writer Patricia Foster (author of ‘My Savage Mind’) and Jeanette Winterson (author of ‘Art Objects’) we will look at life writing as a tool for self-understanding and self-soothing. Finding the language of painwe will examine how employing writing techniques such as point-of-view (eg. first person, second person, third person voice) can help us to find better coping techniques in our lives. Gratitude and hope journals – we’ll discover how to use daily life writing to ‘accentuate the positive’ in our lives.

4) The Honest Self

‘We imagine the past – we don’t remember it.’ John Banville

We are made up of our memories but we also know that our memories can fade, warp and distort, and at times even ‘trick’ us. These distortions and tricks can sometimes cause us distress – and sometimes they can help us. In this session we will look at how to access faded memories and identify their truth content – both factual and emotional – through writing.  Memory vs imagination – we examine how to acknowledge and accept the blur between the two, and employ them both in our writing to access the ‘story’ in our ‘situation’. We will practice ‘re-writing’ difficult episodes in our lives with alternative endings.

ENROLMENT

There are a few options:

Enrol in Part One of the four-part Writing as Therapy course to ‘test the waters’, knowing you then have the option of continuing and completing the four part course. Cost: $100 ($80 conc)

OR

Enrol in the four-part course. Cost: $300 ($250 conc)

OR

Enrol in the final three classes of the four-part course, ONLY IF you have completed part one with me previously. Cost: $250 ($210 conc)

(Concession rates available for students, pensioners and unemployed).

To register your interest, please contact me via the Contact page on this website, specifying which of the three enrolment options (above) you prefer. Deposits will be required to ensure you have a place in the course.

To listen to a recent ABC radio interview I did about writing as therapy click here.