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VOICE THE PANDEMIC

A Flash Nonfiction Workshop to Remember, Reimagine, Reconnect

LET US CUSTOMIZE THIS WORKSHOP FOR YOUR GROUP OR TEAM.

We can't simply move on; we must heal.

As we continue to edge toward the new (not) normal, we carry our pandemic experiences with us.

Maya Angelou writes, "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

The VOICE THE PANDEMIC Workshop has already helped scores of writers and non-writers alike begin to process the pandemic by writing short personal narratives.*

Join us in giving voice to what you've survived.


*Personal narratives are short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences, big or small.

 How the workshop got started.

I'm an author, professor, and writing coach who, in March and April 2020, lost a dear friend's father-in-law, clients, her partner's job, and her words.

As 2020 dragged toward its close--with COVID-19, systemic racism, and the trauma created by Trump still in clear view--I had an epiphany. 

If I could even just write something short, I'd consider it a win. I refused to let 2020 end without writing a small piece of it. 


Writing helped me recover a modicum of agency.

And I figured if I needed to write, others did too.

 Expressive writing can help heal.

Writers already know how writing can heal, but it's not just people who identify as writers who can heal through the practice of putting words down on a page.

As I revisited what I knew intuitively, I found that 200+ studies show that expressive writing improves physical and emotional health, including sleep and performance. 

Writing intervention increases resilience and decreases depressive symptoms, perceived stress, and rumination. 

Translating emotional experience into words changes its effect on the brain. 


(Read more about the research in my piece at Harvard Business Review, "Writing Can Help Us Heal from Trauma.")

And it's not merely for the sake of our own well-being that we need to give voice to our experience.

 History needs our pandemic postcards.

Archivists recognize the need to capture diverse voices of "everyday" people before memories are lost or overshadowed. 

Historians acknowledge the paucity of records from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

Universities, libraries, and online pandemic archiving projects remain hungry for submissions.

Let's keep filling them with our words.

-Deborah
-


This interactive "flash" writing workshop is for all those needing to write about their pandemic experience, to carve out a small chunk of time and space to capture some aspect of what happened in personal narrative form.


Here's how it works.

At the beginning of the LIVE workshop with experienced writing coach and instructor Deborah Siegel-Acevedo, PhD, you will be guided through writing prompts to call up your most pressing memories of these pandemic times. 

With the help of a partner during a pair-share, you will be guided to select the one that begs to go down in history. Through facilitated group discussion, we will recall, honor, and witness. We will then teach you (or remind you of) narrative strategies to dig deep and fully yet concisely express and give you time to get it down on the page. 

By workshop’s end, you will have a crafted a perfectly imperfect short personal narrative that's nearly ready to be archived at one of the many sites currently archiving human experiences of this “unprecedented” time. We'll send you a list of archives accepting personal stories as well as a list of media outlets and literary venues looking for powerful personal narratives, in case you'd like to further develop your piece for publication.


Along the way, you will connect with others, reconnect with yourself, and learn (or re-learn) tactics for incorporating writing as a way of processing unpredictable times.

About Your Instructor
Deborah Siegel-Acevedo, PhD ACC is an author, TEDx speaker, and founder of the creative consultancy, Girl Meets Voice Inc. and the online course platform, Bold Voice Collaborative. She is the author of two books, Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild (Palgrave Macmillan) and Only Child (Harmony/Random House; co-edited) as well as essays published in anthologies and in literary journals. Her op-eds and features on gender, parenting, politics, writing, thought leadership, and social change have appeared in popular venues including The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN.com, Harvard Business Review, The Forward, Kveller, Slate, The Huffington Post, The American Prospect, Ms., More, and Psychology Today. She has been featured on The Today Show and in the New York Times. An Adjunct Faculty member in the College of Communication at DePaul University, she currently teaches courses on personal and public narrative. She previously taught opinion writing through The OpEd Project. Deborah has collaborated to create several innovative multimedia initiatives in the writing and publishing space. She is co-founder of SheWrites.com, the largest online community for women who write. Learn more at www.deborahsiegelphd.com and www.girlmeetsvoice.com.

What Past Participants Say About Their Experience

"Thank you so much for this opportunity to really stop and absorb all we are going through right now. For today and for the future, writing about the pandemic will be invaluable, impactful, and healing."

Juliet Bond, LCSW​ Author & ​​​Director of Development, Piven Theatre Workshop

Thank YOU for this much needed oasis from the regular program that is insane! I am so grateful for you sharing your knowledge and gifts with us. What you are doing is so important and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Rina Campbell, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Specialist at Campbell Consulting

"Feeling very contemplative and centered. Thank you!"




Debi Lewis
Author & Owner, Jebraweb



<--MINDFULNESS THROUGH WRITING

"It was a challenging but also cathartic experience. Many times, I doubted my potential and my writing abilities but with each draft, thanks to your help, the piece became stronger which in turn helped me believe in my capabilities as a writer."

Lisa Ventura 

In partnership with BVC and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, ​​​Lisa published her essay at Slate.

"It was a rare chance to practice mindfulness through writing — all while feeling the supportive energy of a group of talented and motivated people! Thank you!” 

Carrie Goldman
Author/Speaker

Carrie's viral New York Times article, "It's OK to Watch Schitt's Creek with Your Kids," was sparked in response to our writing prompts.






    <-- PUBLICATIONS!


Note to perfectionists: The archives are not looking for perfectly polished pieces.

Together, we'll capture what The Atlantic calls "quick-response art, mess and chaos—not polished elegance.”

These are the forms called for, mid-disaster. Process an element of your own experience while contributing to a historical record that has a history of erasing "everyday" people's experience.

What we've experienced merits words. Join us in sharing yours.

FAQ

Q: I can't attend the LIVE workshop but would like to participate in the experience nonetheless.  Will you be sending a replay?

A: Yes, if requested, we can send a replay of the mini-lessons, which will be re-recorded after the workshop. (We are not recording the workshop itself, to protect the privacy of participants and ensure a safe and courageous LIVE space.)

Q: Can I submit my piece to an archive and to a media outlet?

A: Sure! But only if you are willing to revise and polish until it's the best tiny essay you've ever written. Check out Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction to learn more about the form. 


Q: Can I hire a Bold Voice Collaborative writing consultant to help me polish and/or expand my piece into a full-fledged essay, or a performance coach to help me turn my piece into something to read aloud at a storytelling or Live Lit event?

A: You bet. Bold Voice Collaborators are standing by....

Meet Your Bold Voice Collaborators

Gina DiPonio

Writing Consultant

Gina is an award-winning creative nonfiction writer whose work has appeared in The Sun, Hypertext, Contrary Magazine, Three Hawks Review, Hair Trigger, and elsewhere. She’s been guiding students for nearly twenty years at institutions including the Columbia College Creative Writing Department and the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio.

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Dina Elenbogen

Writing Consultant

Dina is author of the memoir, Drawn from Water and the poetry collection Apples of the Earth. Her work has appeared in anthologies including Fury: Women's Lived Experience During the Trump Era and magazines and journals including Lit Hub, Bellevue Literary Review,  Brevity, Newcity Magazine, and many others. Elenbogen teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago Graham School where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award.

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Shawna Franks

Live Lit Performance Coach

Shawna is a professional actor as well as a public speaking and performance coach. Her method is rooted in an organic process, drawing from an alchemy of techniques gleaned during her many years of acting and vocal coaching for the theatre. She works with live lit performers, TEDx speakers, and both seasoned and first-time keynoters and presenters, helping speakers show up, reveal what’s inside them, and put it all on the stage.

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