A few years ago, I almost bought a plane ticket to escape the overwhelming stress that was consuming my life. I had put everyone else’s needs over mine for too long. I was exhausted and ready to run away from it all. I didn’t buy that plane ticket, but I booked several creative writing workshops. That turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Discovering my own creativity through writing has grounded me, empowered me, and reinvigorated me so I could return to my day-to-day life with greater clarity and purpose.
In 2020, I took the next step by enrolling in a writing coach training program at the writer’s studio in Vienna. In this article I want to share with you my 7 reasons why I love teaching creative writing:
The research is clear: creative writing is good for your health, not just relieving stress and decreasing emotional tension, but also improving overall wellbeing and mental clarity.
In my recent blog article I summarized some of the empirical evidence on the tangible health benefits of expressive writing (expressive writing puts more attention to feelings than on events or memories). Study participants who wrote about their emotions recorded fewer stress-related visits to the doctor, benefited from an improved immune system, lung and liver functioning, and reduced blood pressure, among other positive effects.
Earlier this year I suffered from pneumonia and an extremely painful pleurisy. For days I was in so much pain that I couldn’t get myself to write. When I finally managed to find a comfortable position on the sofa I poured it all out on the page. Then, one day, I was able to write: „I am being forced to take more care of myself. I avoid taking deep breaths because it hurts so much, but it is the wrong thing to do. The old, used air needs to get out, fresh, clean air shall flow through my lungs. The sun shall enter my rips, rise in my lungs. My lungs are getting warm, blood is flowing through, the inflammation is suppressed. She’s going away, she’s done her job. She has reminded me to take care of myself. She has saved me from myself. Thanks inflammation. Thank you, you have done your duty, now you can retire. Good bye.“
2. I want to create a save space for women to practice self-care
I know from experience that women, and especially mothers, are at risk of giving up on their own dreams, at risk of losing their health and sanity. You already know that self-care is as important as caring for others. It’s time to put that into practice.
If you are still asking whether you can allow yourself to spend quality time on you, and only you, then I say: Yes, you can! And you should! The research is clear – see my first point above.
I have created my Feel-Good-Moment Creative Writing Workshops with the explicit aim to offer women a meaningful and creative outlet to escape their day-to-day hectic life. It’s time to allow yourself some quality “me time”, a feel-good moment that allows you to connect to yourself in a deeper way!
Here is a quote from one of my favorite authors, Julia Cameron: “We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul.”
3. I love meeting inspiring women from around the world
I have met some of my best friends in creative writing workshops, both participants and writing coaches. Creative writing is for everyone, not just professional writers and poets, and the people I have met are simply wonderful, with open minds and hearts ❤️
Imagine if you could carve out a moment for yourself and instead of crashing on the sofa, which often brings little to no satisfaction, you instead did something to explore your creativity, connect to your inner voice and bring to paper the words you carry inside. And imagine experiencing this alongside other women like yourself, being inspired by their stories and sharing your own.
I have attended a fair share of creative writing workshops over the past years and the moment I always enjoy the most is the sharing of – by reading aloud – our „shitty first drafts“. In that moment my own writing doesn’t matter. I am diving into the world of my fellow writers, their hopes and desires, their fears and tears. I am moved and I enjoy the power of the words in the room.
Reading aloud, listening, applauding the courage, and offering gentle, positive feedback is a core part of the creative writing experience that I love, and that I love to teach.
5. I like how a writing prompt can trigger a storm
Have you heard of the butterfly effect? A butterfly flaps it wings somewhere and causes a typhoon somewhere else. A butterfly may not have these powers in reality, but a writing prompt surely may, for the right person at the right time.
As I wrote in a recent blog article on What is creative writing?, a simple writing prompt such as “and then they met in the staircase” led to me wanting to write a memoir about my two mothers. This story has now accompanied me for the past 4 years and in a way, this simple writing prompt has put in movement feelings and emotions that I didn’t know I carried inside me.
I love teaching creative writing because now I get to carefully chose the writing prompts that I want to offer in my workshops. I get to imagine the effects they might have; whether the writing prompt seems rather innocent or whether it may have the power the shaken our minds. Whether the effect is small or large depends more on the person and on the very state of mind they are in, than on the prompt. I recall weeping like a baby after imagining I was a piece of furniture…
I suggest you try it out for yourself and experience the joy of writing, without any purpose in mind. I have created a mini-series of five writing prompts that only take 15 minutes a day. What makes your stomach flutter? Try it out from the comfort of your home!
6. I get to write in fantastic locations
With the Corona pandemic we have gotten so used to spending most of our time in front of the screen, business and personal time. This offers us freedoms we missed before, for example working in our home-office when the kids come home from school or need to stay home sick. But honestly, I am so thrilled that I can offer my creative writing workshops in beautiful locations, where we can gather around a big table and hear each others‘ pens scraping on the page…
This fall (September 30 – October 2) I am offering a fun creative writing workshop in my most favorite spots of all: Traunkirchen at Lake Traunsee in Upper Austria. This is where my husband and I got married, this is my happy place. We will be writing in a beautiful room in the cloister, overlooking the graveyard and the Traunsee. I intentionally organized the workshop times such that there is ample time to enjoy the beautiful area – and I am sure your family may want to tag along and enjoy themselves too.
Ever since my mum gifted me my first book when I was seven years old, I have loved reading. I discovered the joy of writing later, much later in fact. And so here is my final reason for loving to teach creative writing: Reading is now part of my „job“ and I get to share quotes and book recommendations with women around the world, who in turn share their own favorites back.
Reading and (teaching) creative writing, I am finally living my passion!