The Writing Cure

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Catherine's Blog, Writing Tips

Why Talk Therapy Is on the Wane and Writing Workshops Are on the Rise

IMG_1733_2“A generation ago, when “Annie Hall” won the Oscar for Best Picture, talk therapy occupied a prominent place in our collective imagination, whether or not you partook. If you wanted to spend several hours a week baring your soul to a stranger who was professionally obligated to listen and react, you went into therapy. Today you join a writing workshop.”  – NY TIMES

My observation that those coming to The Way of Story workshops I lead in the States, UK, Europe, and Asia were sharing that old wounds were healed by writing about them -either non-fiction or fiction writing (Fiction is emotional autobiography.) inspired me to write Heal Your Self with Writing (Aug-Sept release). As in my earlier book, Heal Your Self with Writing, had its beginnings in workshops at Esalen, Omega, and in UK. Many who had undergone years of conventional therapy with little result were amazed how in a few days doing the focused journaling exercises had greatly helped process and recover from a trauma or chronic grief.

As one woman later wrote to me after an Esalen weekend workshop, “I had returned to myself.”

Recently, I was invited to teach the Heal Your Self with Writing workshop in Kuwait, so Feb 2014 should be quite interesting.

I love teaching. I learn as I teach thanks to the students. This weekend I taught The Way of Story here in S. CA and one man’s writing which he shared with the group reminded me what a good memoir is. Though I have taught workshops on Memoir for years, I had not articulated what I learned yesterday from my student.By flashing back to an earlier experience when he was a child, he gave us a window into who he was then and now.

A good memoir is not simply about what the writer has accomplished, survived, or experienced. The best memoirs show us the character of the one writing his or her story. The ‘who’ is as important as the ‘what’. This way the reader is more invested in the one whose story we are reading. We, as readers, are invited into an intimacy and knowledge of the person’s character, and that is the best when writing or reading any memoir.

After teaching writing for over thirty years now, I am never bored. Each workshop is different because the individual writers are different, unique, as are the stories they pen. This is why I thank my many students and clients over the years who have allowed me to learn through teaching them.

(See Schedule for Workshops & Talks)