Workshops

Hi, I am Dr. June Alexander,  a life writing workshop facilitator who has presented events throughout Australia and internationally, and in both rural and urban environments.

I have designed and run writing programs for many organisations, including  Beyond Blue, the Butterfly Foundation, the Centre for Excellence in Eating Disorders, the Geelong Mood Disorder Group, Hawthorn Community Centre, Diversitat Aged Support, City of Darebin, City of Manningham, Wellington Shire, Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, the Centre for Integrative Medicine in Brisbane, University of Rochester in New York, and Dorset Healthcare University, Bournemouth, UK.

As a facilitator of life-writing workshops, I discuss journaling and storytelling in a way that engages and best serves the interests of the workshop participants. Each workshop is tailored to meet the needs and aims of those who are attending the event.

I specialise in providing three types of workshops:

  • diary-writing for individual self-healing and wellbeing
  • story-telling for a collaborative social history project
  • providing professionals with narrative skills as an extra communication tool in their field of expertise, to improve outcomes, provide self-debrief, and self-enrichment.

Through interactive tasks that are fun and invite personal sharing, participants are introduced to the many benefits of developing narrative skills.

Writing workshop themes include:
  • Training the trainers – providing workers in the health sector with narrative skills so they can do their work more effectively
  • Providing extra self-help and therapeutic tools for practitioners, caregivers, people living with mental health challenges
  • Assisting the healing process of people who have experienced trauma including domestic violence, sexual abuse, road accidents and natural disasters such as bushfires
  • Empowering people who are mature in age and who may be wanting to write their story but need encouragement to get started. Often people in this age bracket share that “my son/daughter wants me to write my story, so that my grandchildren, when they are older, can read about what life was like for me”. Without fail, they walk from the workshop with a lighter step than when they entered, knowing they are not only leaving a footprint for their family to follow but have also contributed to the social history of their community.

Everyone has a story to tell and my role as the workshop leader is to help each participant to recognize their gems of experience are worth cultivating and preserving.

Personal stories help us all to appreciate the rich life experience that comes with maturity and understand and respect the thoughts and feelings and values of the story-teller at every age.

Personal stories help raise awareness that even when we hold prestigious roles and pressure jobs in the community or in business, we have a private self that needs nurturing and caring for. Writing is a very effective way to take care of this vital wellbeing aspect.

Likewise, when people have retired from full-time careers, in the office or at home, and are perhaps in need of supported living arrangements, story-telling is an effective way of reminding them that they have contributed to life in many different ways, including to the benefits that our communities enjoy today. The process of writing their stories reveals awakens both them and their readers to the fact that not only have they lived a full life, but they still have much to offer!

Ideally, stories created during the workshops, which are tailor-made to suit your specific needs and aims, generally comprise three to six sessions over a period of six to 12 weeks, culminating in the creation of a book, in either individual or group-story format, for presentation to each participant.

Importantly, each story is told in the participant’s own ‘voice’.

Assistance is provided where older people are unable to write or use a computer.

 

1 Day Life Writing Workshop

*** + accommodation and travel costs if applicable

The content is tailor-made to explore your chosen theme: diary-writing, story-telling, or narrative skills for professionals. The format includes:

  • the workshop spans seven hours, generally 9am to 4pm, with lunch and tea/coffee breaks
  • the first half of the program involves getting to know each other through fun writing tasks that build confidence and often lead to surprising revelations
  • the second half of the program is more interactive, with new narrative skills being put into practice and time for writing and sharing
  • each participant takes home at least one small piece of creative writing
  • printed take-home leaflets are provided so that the benefits can be ongoing
  • workshop requirements: meeting room, whiteboard and colored markers, powerpoint presentation facility, u-shaped seating arrangement. Each participant to have a notebook and pen. Light lunch and tea/coffee facilities to be provided.

 

Life Writing Workshop Series 1

*** +accommodation and travel costs if applicable

The content is tailor-made to suit your aims, based on your chosen theme for diary-writing, story-telling, or narrative skills for professionals. The format includes:

  • generally, the workshops are held at two-week intervals
  • the aim is for each participant to create 2000 words on a theme that the group selects (for instance ‘Down Memory Lane’ or ‘I Remember When …’ or ‘The Day My Life Changed’). Furthermore, if funding is available, the stories will be placed and published in a book, with each participant receiving a copy
  • the first workshop involves fun writing tasks that help each participant, even if they have done very little writing previously, to relax and reflect on the topic they would like to explore in their story. Elementary guidance is provided in getting started in this safe and supportive environment
  • at the second workshop, the participants bring along their first drafts of about 2000 words (some may be 500 words and others, 5000 words) and, if participants feel ready, these are shared with others in a non-judgmental and encouraging way. Amazing things happen as the experiences of one participant awakens memories in another, and the enthusiasm for writing quickly builds. We talk about structure and dialogue, tenses, filling in the gaps, setting the scene, and other aspects of writing which can add shine to a story.
  • at the third workshop, everyone is brimming with confidence, and the stories are shared and celebrated. This final session involves proofreading and correction and the final polish on each of the stories – in some cases inserting more text and in others, deciding what to cull. Participants reflect on what they have learned about themselves through the writing process.
  • workshop requirements: meeting room, whiteboard and colored markers, powerpoint presentation facility, u-shaped seating arrangement. Each participant to have a notebook and pen. Light lunch and tea/coffee facilities to be provided.

Email contact is available for participants to communicate with me for extra guidance between the writing sessions. Following the third and final workshop, I undertake a final edit and present the works to the group as a pdf on an email attachment or, according to the group’s wishes,  make arrangements for the stories to be placed in a book, with a copy made for each one.

These books can take many forms – for instance, I have created cookery books, that combine recipes and a story from each recipe contributor, as community fundraisers. There is no limit to the possibilities!

 

Life Writing Workshops Series 2

*** +accommodation and travel costs if applicable

This workshop structure is ideal for individuals and members of community-based groups who are self-motivated writers and who are inspired to complete a series of stories. Each story in the series comprises about 2000 words and may stand alone or become a chapter in one full-length work.

  • the eight sessions will be held fortnightly
  • each session includes discussion and practising of writing techniques
  • the first session comprises an introduction with small writing tasks and discussion on each person’s choice of writing topics
  • subsequent sessions include readings of work, accomplished in the previous two weeks, from each participant with helpful feedback from the group; for instance, suggestions on improving plot or overcoming writing roadblocks.
  • topics for discussion also include the mapping of each story, the plot, the structure, the writing approach and style, development of characters, the exploration of senses and emotions, and where-to-from-here
  • workshop requirements: meeting room, whiteboard and colored markers, powerpoint presentation facility, u-shaped seating arrangement. Each participant to have a notebook and pen. Tea/coffee facilities to be provided
  • there will be an option to have the works printed if funding is available and the process of getting a work published will be explained