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It’s that time again! My next set of classes at Unity of Bloomington has been approved. Here are course details: Writing through Trauma Six Mondays from August 31-October 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. This class will be a supportive space for adult writers negotiating difficult topics, regardless of genre or experience. We will discuss writing trauma from a safe space, self-care, critical reading, how to give and receive constructive criticism, what writing style works best for us and why, finding our voices, and point of view among other topics. At least 30 minutes

*While this post is tailored toward trauma writing, relief projects and objects are necessary to any type of writing, especially when writing is your livelihood. ~~~ It’s very easy to get overwhelmed or burn out when you are heavily focused on one project such as a novel or personal essay. When I work, I generally have between three and five pieces I am writing at the same time. This allows me to switch gears without sacrificing productivity. Because the topics I choose to engage in writing most frequently focus on

Update: Online signup is now open. Click here.  I’m excited to share my finalized course schedule for April and May. I will be offering a session of Writing through Trauma for women only, as well as two new classes, designed based on interest and request. Please contact me with any questions. And please share! Writing through Trauma for WOMEN ONLY Dates: 6 Mondays from April 13-May 18, 2015 Time: 6:30-8:30 PM Location: Unity of Bloomington Cost: $80 Instructor: Shawna Ayoub Ainslie This class will be a supportive space for adult

I was recently asked if we (writers) can change our voice by writing in a different style. I answered by saying, “Your voice is different from your companions’ voices. If you can hear the difference, you can write the difference.” Certainly, you would use a different approach when writing a medical document than a prose poem. It follows that a writer might change voices frequently. I am told my voice is very strong and identifiable across genres, but that I have a “soft” voice, a “teacher”voice, a “mommy” voice and an

I have been drafting my next series of Bloomington, IN writing classes beginning in April. If you are an out-of-towner, keep reading. There is a non-local option. I would love to know what you are interested in! Writing through Trauma  For the original description, click here. I will teach this as a six week course. Unity of Bloomington has again offered to host, and there is some flexibility for scheduling. If you want to take this class and would like me to reserve your space, please DM or email me

I keep a list of writing topics handy for those times when I get stuck. Because I write on difficult themes, I get stuck frequently. Sometimes, my list isn’t enough to burst my thought dam. In that case, I like to mine completed pieces from my writing history for phrases and inspiration. When even that fails to get my creative juices flowing, I trick my writer brain with the following exercise: Time Capsule Find a completed story, poem, essay or journal entry on a topic you haven’t worked with in awhile

I have long thought of poetry as the gateway drug of writing. It is how I began as a writer, telling small stories in rhyme. For some years, I thought I had grown beyond poetry, as though it was a genre of incomplete thoughts. This assertion was passed around as a joke in conversation during the years I pursued my MFA. The barbed retort was that fiction writers were all liars, all of us unable to glorify the truth as the poets did. Most of my early fiction is nonfiction.

One of my favorite writing exercises is one I call “Epistle.” The term is probably best known in relation to the Bible, but epistle refers to a letter in multiple forms. e·pis·tle əˈpisəl/ noun formal noun: epistle; plural noun: epistles a letter. synonyms: letter, missive, communication, dispatch, note, line; More a poem or other literary work in the form of a letter or series of letters. a book of the New Testament in the form of a letter from an Apostle. noun: Epistle; plural noun: Epistles “St. Paul’s epistle to

Self-care is a critical component of any trauma writing practice, but in order to implement self-care, you must first know your triggers. So, what is a trigger? A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma. Triggers are very personal; different things trigger different people. The survivor may begin to avoid situations and stimuli that she/he thinks triggered the flashback. She/he will react to this flashback, trigger with an emotional intensity similar to that at the

Everyone experiences trauma differently. There is no way to predictive measure for when or how a person will become traumatized. One human’s stressor is another human’s thrill. Ultimately, we are in charge of our own narrative. It is not up to anyone else to determine whether or not trauma has touched us. We know by the aching, irritable, gone-and-back again hollow we cannot seem to fill with hope. We know by the hives, the lost hair, the nightmares, insomnia, dropped interests and seizing moments we live through daily. We know,

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