Write to Heal
Healing Through Expressive Writing
This course is appropriate for beginning or established writers, and runs from 11th September to 15th October 2017 with instructor involvement. The curriculum remains available to all registered students after 15th October. Late registration is possible.
This is a step-by-step course for those who want to benefit from the healing properties of expressive writing. It runs for five weeks, but you can complete it at your own pace.
When we’re getting over a profound loss in our lives, or struggling to keep our head above water due to illness or an unexpected event, the very foundations of our lives can be shaken.
We can become super-sensitive, almost as if we have lost a vital layer of our skin. Sometimes we retreat somewhere where people find it difficult to reach us. When we shut the world out in this way, we can feel alone and misunderstood, and it may be difficult to function properly.
In order to move on and to begin to heal, we need to be able to express our painful emotions. Writing is an ideal way of doing this.
What it means to write expressively
Once spoken out loud, words can never be unsaid. Because we know this, we often censor ourselves, even when life events mean we badly need to express our feelings and our fears.
Writen words, on the other hand, can remain completely private unless we choose to share them. When we write, we can have complete freedom to say what we want or need to say in to kickstart the healing process following a trauma or unexpected life event.
Extensive research – by Professor W Pennebaker of the University of Texas – has shown that people who use structured expressive writing to write about emotional upheavals are 40% less likely to consult their doctor than those who don’t use writing therapy as part of their recovery programme.
Expressive writing has been shown to:
- Increase your happiness
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce stress levels
- Enhance your ability to interact with others
- Stabilize your moods
- Improve how you function in your day-to-day life
- Increase your ability to think about complex tasks
A. A. Potter said: “If only GPs who are so quick to prescrive instant tranquillisers to silence distress would suggest the cleansing therapy of putting pen to paper instead. It’s healing in rejection, grief, heartache or despair. It can clear our heads when faced with choice and indecision. It doesn’t make you fat, sick or wreck your liver. And since nobody can possibly know more about us than we do ourselves, infinitely superior to any psychiatrist.”
In this course you will:
- Let go of any fears you may have about writing as a way of moving on from pain or unhappiness.
- Learn how to make sure the expressive writing you undertake remains safe and useful to you.
- Become reassured about the writing process so that you feel relaxed and fully-equipped when you sit down to write.
- Follow clear guidelines to complete beneficial writing exercies.
- Openly acknowledge your emotions by a process of organised self-reflection.
- Find your voice so that you can truly express who you are and feel validated.
- Usefully annalyze what you write.
- Put your writing to further creative use to gain even more insight.
- Have the opportunity (not compulsory) to interact with other course members and to take part in live workshop sessions with the tutor.
- Start to think about a positive future use of the writing skills you have developed.
- Those who have made a decision that they no longer want negative emotions or memories to rule their lives.
- Those able to allocate time for expressive writing – a minimum of two hours a week, which can be spread over several days.
- Those willing to accept that some of the writing could be painful, and that in order to benefit from the process, they may feel temporarily sad following a writing session before the therapeutic benefits of expressive writing start to kick in.
- Those able to accept that there is no right way to write expressively – there is only what is right and most beneficial in order for you to heal. Correct grammar and spelling are not important with expressive writing.
Margaret is a multi-published author and the Director of WriteUP Creative Writing Courses. She has used expressive writing to overcome trauma in her own life, notably through her novella Murder Maker, which was published by Cambridge University Press.
She is a member of Lapidus, the Writing for Wellbeing Orgnaisation and Writers in Education. While constructing this course, she has carried out exstensive research into expressive writing and writing therapy, studying the techniques of writing for wellbeing experts such as Professor James W. Pennebaker and Gillie Bolton.
Feedback about WriteUP Courses
“I have benefitted enormously from this course. I have just come out of two years of counselling for post traumatic sress disorder and depression. This course has been wonderful because I have stopped being a victim.”
“Margaret’s courses are inspirational and really allow you to focus and think through where you want your writing to go.”
“I have hugely enjoyed my six-week course with Margaret. She clearly has a treasure-trove of techniques and ideas up her sleeve, and her sensitive facilitation of the group’s development was greatly appreciated.”
All students receive the following:
- Video intoductions to activities.
- Worksheets and homework assignments. Each step of the expressive writing process has a corresponding task or activity for you to complete. I recommend always completing your homework before moving on to the next step.
- Links to further beneficial reading or videos.
- Access to a private Facebook group. As soon as the course starts, you’ll be invited to join a private group where you can ask me questions and interact with other students should you wish to do so.
- Access to five office hour sessions. Live video office hours will be held on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm Greenwich meantime on 13th, 20th, 27th September and 4th and 11th October, unless unforeseen conflicts arise. Office hours use the Zoom teleconferencing system (free); you can join using any device or by phone. All office hour sessions are recorded for students unable to attend.
- Continuing access to all course materials. Even after the course ends, you will have access to all the materials above. The Facebook group will continue, although instructor presence is not guaranteed after 15th October.
- How writing therapy helps people getting over trauma, including case studies.
- Dealing with fears about expressive writing.
- Finding your personal writing routine.
- Limbering up with writing.
- The Four-Day expressive-writing programme.
- Taking time-out when necessary.
- Personal reflection and evaluation on the expressive writing process.
- Writing using positve emotion words.
- Writing your trauma into a simple story to make better sense of it.
- Boosting the personal healing process by writing from different perspectives and for different audiences.
- Writing as a postive way to plan for a happy future.
- Legacy writing.
- The way forward.
Frequently asked Questions
- Do I have to show up at a specific time? No, all course materials are available to watch and review at your own pace, on your own schedule.
- When does the course officially start? The course starts on Monday, 11th September, when you’ll receive access to the materials for the first lesson and be able to join the Facebook Group.
- How long will I have access to the course lectures and materials? Indefinitely. After the interactive portion of the course ends on 15th October, you will continue to have access to the course website and private Facebook group, although the tutor will not be so actively present in the Facebook group after 15th October.
- Will I have to share my work with other students? No. The nature of expressive writing is that it stays private to you. However, you are welcome to refer to your writing informally in the Facebook group.
- Must I have a Facebook account to join the course? No, but you may miss out on conversations and discussion among other students and with the instructor. But you’ll still have access to all course curriculum (at the course website), and receive information on how to join office hours with Margaret.
- What if I can’t make office hours? Office hours are scheduled for Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. Greenwich meantime, and will be recorded for those who can’t attend. You are welcome to send questions to Margaret in advance of office hours, to bring up for discussion, if you can’t make it.
- Will this course be offered again? No further dates have been arranged at the present time.