By Rebecca Gifford
What does writing mean to you?
This is the question I ask everyone who’s ever attended one of my workshops. Usually right after I ask you your name. Your answer to this question tells a story. It immediately offers a glimpse into who you are, what’s important to you, what you fear, what you love, what you’ve done, what you hope to do. Our relationship to the written word is often complicated — filled with history, effort, even failure. But chances are the idea of expressing yourself through words also has brought you joy, release, validation, or connection. Perhaps, even just for a moment, writing offered you something new or satisfying. Something you were seeking.
Writing Through Challenge and Change
Writing offers me all of these things and more. It has been part of some of my life’s most beautiful, connected moments. It also has offered some of my greatest challenges and life lessons. When I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was a graduate of journalism school and writing dozens of
documents each month for the Cincinnati public relations firm that employed me at the time. I was a good writer, a committed writer. This was my professional and artistic choice. But for months — during treatments, a bone
marrow transplant, weeks of hospitalizations, an unabridged rearrangement of my life, et al — I didn’t write a word of my own. I bought empty journals. I sat quietly in quiet places, pencil ready. I did all the things I believed should have worked. The words sat dormant in my throat and heart. It wasn’t until years later, sitting beside the Peace Fountain at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, one block from my tiny Manhattan apartment, that the tears…the release…the words…the voice…and the healing came. First one story. Then more. Then a column. Then a memoir. Then life and even more stories, lessons, failures, successes, awareness, and connections with others. And on the cycle goes to this day. I’d like to say that it was the magical powers of city sculpture that opened up my writing that day, but it wasn’t that simple. It was a process of journaling, quieting the noisy chatter in my mind, and reconnecting with my creativity. Over time I slowly rebuilt the creative writing muscles I’d let atrophy. Then one day I was ready to turn on the storytelling tap.
The Birth of Express Yourself
I’ve never stopped benefiting from this ongoing creative process. Over the years I’ve developed my tools and discovered new ones that help me and others access our inherent creativity and meaningful stories, even when it
seemed they had abandoned us. Especially on those days. From this work came Express Yourself: A Writing Workshop for Non-Writers.
In the workshop, I guide you through mindfulness exercises and simple creative activities that evoke exploration and play. Home writing work encourages deep dives into your own stories, feelings, and areas of growth. Sharing pieces with each other in a supportive environment builds confidence and illustrates the power stories have to connect us. This workshop inspires curiosity around creative expression, how you feel about your authentic voice, what storytelling can offer you and those around you, and much more. It doesn’t impose a lot of rules or expectations on what or how you write or share. It doesn’t require any writing experience. It simply asks you to notice what comes up when you have an intention of translating your life, your feelings, or your imagination into words. And to support your fellow participants as they do the same. Join me.
Writing and creative expression can be valuable tools for moving through challenge and change. They are muscles that require conditioning to become and remain strong and nimble. When we exercise them with others in
community, they grow even more powerful. I am excited to show you all that writing and creative expression can offer you. I hope you’ll join me and your fellow participants. Because when we are brave enough to share our stories, we all benefit.
To register or learn more about Express Yourself: A Writing Workshop for Non-Writers, in partnership with Tightrope Theatre, go here:
To learn more about Rebecca Gifford, go here: https://www.rebeccagifford.com/