Question: What is most gratifying about running these memoir and mindfulness workshops?
Answer: Having participants feel engaged during the workshop and having them leave with a clear sense of direction and inspired to write.
I’m so happy I did your workshop. It came at exactly the right time for me as I have been wanting to write for some time but have never been able to establish a routine and a discipline for writing. This was partly due to a deep insecurity about being able to create something of significance out of the experiences, thoughts and feelings that were swirling around in my mind.
I found your workshop liberating. Your nonjudgmental approach helped me to shed my inhibitions and self-imposed restrictions about having to conform to some external standard. Your open and authentic vulnerability about your own struggles and experiences set the tone for a safe environment where all the participants felt valued. The two activities (icebreaker and pledge) at the beginning of the course immediately removed all barriers between us to create a gentle atmosphere of mutual support and respect.
You lead the workshop with gentle authority and were always mindful of the validity and value of each participant’s individual response to any given activity or situation.
The writing exercises were effective and helped me to understand the process of creating a vivid description or even a meaningful story out of a fleeting memory or an amorphous idea. I found it most helpful to listen to the other participants reading from their writing and the ensuing discussions taught me a lot. I realised that I’m not the only one to suffer from unnecessary insecurities and anxieties brought about by a debilitating self-critical and self-censoring voice! It was an insight that was hugely affirmative for me.
The workshop was exceedingly productive as I came away in the end not only motivated and inspired to write my own stories but also with a strategy and a fruitful method. I could say a lot more: for instance, I liked your down to earth and sincere approach to the spiritual practices of Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation.
—Tyna Charter, Durban
The workshop was great. It was opening and inspiring. I loved your smart writing exercises, which were well designed to open and enabling us to draw from our subconscious.
I like your delicate but also firm leading style. With your persistence, especially during the leading questions writing exercise, it was possible to explore around our soft edges, seeing first glimpses of potential in writing. Ideas came up, things I never say to myself. All excellent. I think you feel writing nature very well. I think you are familiar with subtle meanders of others mind tuning in it well.
Apart from my engineering profession I am also a student of MSc in Mindfulness studies at Aberdeen University. I have teachers’ qualifications in meditation. Your workshop has inspired me to think about perhaps working with survivors of rape and abuse—something I have done using my MSc in Mindfulness—using writing and mindfulness. I appreciate having had these insights.
— Beata Tschirch, Berlin
Many thanks, Wanda, for an inspiring workshop. I seemed to come down with something directly afterwards—body aching all over—and I wondered if I had just caught something or whether the act of writing was some kind of release? Like a catharsis. Who knows. Anyway, I did enjoy it. It felt very focussed and I felt very free to write just as the words came since there was no pressure to share the results!
—Deborah Metherell, Berlin
I enjoyed the course and the book has not been filed away—meaning I have every intention of keeping the door open!
—Judith Shier, Durban
Huge thanks for the way you conducted the workshop. The pressure was good to wring creativity out of us. I struggled to cope with the first day and fleetingly pondered absconding. But all came together and became much clearer on day two, so I’m plunging ahead on my debut memoir. It will doubtless be a lot more anecdotal than my fellow participants apparent intention, to render more introspective and esoteric pieces.
The workshop worked for me overall very well. It was way more interesting and challenging than a straight “mechanics of writing” that I thought I was looking for. I think such a workshop would have been boring in comparison to yours
—Terry Higginson, Durban