“StoryShop”: A Writers Workshop for Creativity, Wellness and Self-development

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Susan Barber, Faculty of Education

Project team: Suzanne Rheinhardt, research assistant

Timeframe: August 2017 to December 2019

Funding: $6000

Final report: View Susan Barber's final report (PDF)

Description: In building on my research in narrative and creative writing, I would like to develop and lead a series of workshops for students on campus in hopes of contributing to student creativity, self development, wellness and improvement in writing.

These workshops will be open to any student who would like to participate, but will appeal mainly to four types of students who are interested in learning through:

·      Feedback on creative writing – advancing skills and knowledge in writing short stories

·      Support for students facing difficulties in their lives -- related to narrative writing therapy

·      Practice in personal writing  -- pathway to self development

·      Using narrative as a learning or research tool – as a genre within academic writing

I hope to hold one workshop per month, and build a body of work for the group. Having a means to explore and share their experiences in a supportive community may contribute to students acquiring a deeper understanding of their lives, feeling more grounded in a trusted peer group, moving toward greater self-development, improving their writing, and finding a more positive outlook and increased wellness. At the end of approximately one year, the group will submit samples of their best work and we will publish an e-book. Ideally, this would be something that could continue for many years.

Questions addressed:

  • Why do students choose to participate in the workshop? What are their goals?  What do they hope to gain from it?
  • Has the workshop contributed to students’ development?
  • What are the ways in which students valued writing with group support?
  • Did students feel they made progress toward the goals they had for joining the workshop?

Knowledge sharing: I intend to submit proposals to two more conferences that will take place in 2020.

Barber, S. M. (2019, June). Creative writing as an exta-curricular activity: The importance of enriching student university experiences.  Presentation at the Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE) Annual Conference, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Keywords: Creative writing, workshops, extracurricular activities, university learning, student stress, wellbeing, mental health, creativity