Lorraine’s Workshops

Photo by Robert Kern

Lorraine is available to speak to groups on the following topics. Contact Lorraine for availability and details. Check the Events & Appearances page for the current schedule. To read what previous workshop participants have had to say about Lorraine’s workshops, visit the Comments on Lorraine’s Workshops page.

Peruse the entire page, or use these links to scroll down to a particular workshop description:

Writing Family, Understanding Self: A Memoir Workshop

Memoir is the art of exploring the self. In some respects, the self can only be fully understood in terms of the family. In a great family memoir, we take what we inherit from the family tapestry — love, truths, myths, damage, prejudices, passions, strengths — and pluck and weave the threads that both explain and define our identity.

In this workshop, participants will learn to identify and gather key moments and influences in their lives and family histories and organize them around an intergenerational theme or pressing personal question strong enough to propel the writing of a satisfying memoir.

Then they will learn how to structure their story, creating depth by drawing from the present and past with precision and clarity. They will learn to:

Next presentation of Writing Family, Understanding Self is scheduled for October 3-4, 2015 in Nanuet, New York. Visit the Events & Appearances page for details.

Writing the Inner Life: The Art of the Spiritual Journal

Keeping a spiritual journal, a time-honored American tradition, is an effective method for writing our way through confusion and into peace and meaning. Simple as a journal is, it is a perfect place to purge pain; tell the truth; collect what resonates with you; allow your past, present, and future to meet; and develop a self-awareness larger than any problem or obstacle that plagues you.

In the spirit of my latest book, Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, which began as a journal, we will use many writing prompts to understand our three selves: the child self, which was forced to adapt to circumstances; the adult self, which oftentimes still lives with those early adaptations; and the sacred self, which liberates both.

Our discussions will be infused with writings and thoughts from writers, thinkers, poets, and spiritual teachers, including Jean Shinoda Bolen, Arielle Ford, Linda Gillard, Napoleon Hill, James Hillman, Carl Jung, Don Miguel Ruiz Jr., May Sarton, Cheryl Strayed, Marina Tsvetaeva, and more.

Next presentation of Writing the Inner Life not currently scheduled. View details of the October 2013 Ocean Grove, New Jersey presentation.

Love Lines: Exploring the Most Powerful Force in Personal Writing

Beneficial for memoirists writing their story to deepen self-knowledge, navigate a difficult life situation, or for publication

There is no more vital way to write our lives than to weave in words the insights and experiences we’ve gained from love journeys of all kinds. Love, it can be said, is the ultimate narrative thread of our personal histories, as uneven as the stitching may be. We turn to Buddhist teachings for an understanding of what love is and what it is not, and then apply that knowledge to our own stories. Discussions also will be infused with excerpts from marvelous authors who have explored the trajectory of love in their own lives using both linear and non-linear story structures. Participants will choose which type of personal writing best fits their temperaments and the stories they need to understand and/or tell.

Next presentation of Love Lines not currently scheduled. View details of the September 2012 Ocean Grove NJ presentation.

Window to the Soul: Writing a Deep and Unforgettable Spiritual Memoir

Created for new memoirists, or those new to the spiritual memoir, as well as those writers with works under way who are looking to deepen or improve the flow of their prose or just get unstuck.

We will begin with a brief overview of the distinctly American tradition of the spiritual memoir so we understand the lineage and purpose of the genre. Next we will address the building blocks of spiritual memoir — inner events, outer events, and reflections — and proceed to study how they can be juxtaposed into engaging sequences, complete with segues. Creating sequences allows us to better see where chapters can effectively start and stop. We will learn how to expose life patterns as we write for the purpose of revealing progressively deepers versions of — and understandings about — ourselves. Micro-lessons will include how to deal with unknowability, the difference between a memoir and an autobiographical novel, and the decision on where (not how) to end your book. The course is infused with thoughts from various spiritual traditions and excerpts from the works of respected spiritual memoirists. Lorraine constantly changes the excerpts covered in her courses.

Next presentation of Window to the Soul not currently scheduled. View details of the June 2010, Mahwah NJ retreat.

Iceberg Tips: Deep Memoir Writing from the Top Down

Manna for writers looking to start or deepen their memoirs in long or short forms, including books and essays. Ideal for a weekend workshop, though parts can be adapted for a day-long workshop.

Participants will identify five or six different “tips,” or ways awareness surfaces in their consciousness, and then write them into full fruition — an essay or a chapter — in such a way as to capture them in all their depth and significance. It’s wonder-filled writing because the writer lowers the proverbial water level and sees what’s in her own psyche as she writes. Interspersed in this workshop are micro-lessons, including thoughts on when to unpack the writing, and when not to, and the value of actually reporting on one’s own life. At the end we will explore how the ocean metaphor can be used to create resolution in our life stories and how what first surfaces in our consciousness suggests the structure of those pieces of writing we weave from personal experience.

The Three Writers Inside Every Writer: A Memoirist’s Guide to the Literary Universe

Ideal for new writers envisioning or writing their first work; writers who already have completed a work and are figuring out how to publish it; advanced writers who have written one memoir and are contemplating writing more.

We will open with a reading from the very first memoir ever written and explain the surprising origin of the genre and the reasons for its endurance. Then we will address developing and strengthening the three writers inside every writer — The Artistic Self, The Genius Self and The Business Self — for two essential reasons. One, only when we understand their various roles will we become completely conscious and in command of our own creative writing process. Two, when their respective roles are clearly delineated in our minds, each can enhance and protect the others instead of interfering with them. In considering The Artistic Self, we will cover three simple but inspired ways to instantly organize the life stories we want to tell, and delve into the power of introducing an innovative but countercultural idea to our subject matter, no matter what it is. In The Genius Self, we will cover how to employ the subconscious mind to work with us when thinking does nothing but mire us deeper into problems. To accomplish this, we will discuss archetypal realities and delve into dreaming, inner gold work and imaginal journeying. In The Business Self, we will discover why now more than ever it is pivotal for an author to understand the economics and realities of traditionally breaking into print in literary journals and books and entertain the option (and fun) of true self-publishing, which is very different from subsidy publishing. The course is infused with excerpts from the works of respected memoirists. Lorraine constantly changes the excerpts covered in her courses.

Next presentation of The Three Writers Inside Every Writer not currently scheduled. View details of the October 2010 Mahwah NJ retreat.

Wisdom of Words: Writing to Heal the Spirit

Designed for individuals looking for solace and self-understanding in times of great loss, and also for those who want to gently explore their hearts for the meanings in significant life experiences, quiet or dramatic.

Available in varying lengths for mid-sized to large conferences or for private intimate groups.

Quietly, and often in flashes, our higher selves offer us comfort and insight every day. Lorraine opens this workshop by introducing the blank page as a place to capture these soul whisperings, which enter our hearts and minds from a higher, wider dimension than the one in which we live and suffer. She teaches how to collect and appreciate these whisperings as the makings of new perspectives and understandings.

A variety of short writing exercises help participants crack open their own memories and experiences to find the lights of insight within them. With each exercise comes a different frame of perspective through which to view and explore pain, grief and love. Short passages by noted authors, famous great people and classical works are used as springboards to get creative juices flowing. To ease participants sense of aloneness in the world, the passages span eras and cultures, reminding us that loss and confusion, seeking and finding, have been part of the human drama from the start.

No writing experience is required.

The First Page / The Ending: Framing Your Story

Two workshops for authors and essayists, to be taken independently or as a set.

Participants in both workshops are invited to send Lorraine the first and/or last pages of a work-in-progress ahead of time. In the afternoon they will be read aloud, anonymously, by an independent reader and we will evaluate them in terms of what was covered in the morning. Everyone will leave with ideas for a polished start, and end, to their works.

Stillbirth: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know

Designed for medical and support staff to help them tailor hospital protocol to best meet the needs of stillbirth parents.

Should a stillbirth mother stay on the maternity ward? How does the language used by those around stillbirth parents affect them? Lorraine reads passages from Life Touches Lifeand speaks from personal experience to address such questions. Others include: How will stillbirth parents respond to the decorations in the maternal-fetal medicine department? Is taking pictures of parents and baby upsetting or healing? What is the psychological impact of going home from the hospital holding nothing at all? Whats the best way to follow up with stillbirth parents?

Lorraine’s talk on this topic in July 2004 at Chilton Memorial Hospital in Pompton Plains NJ was previewed in The Chilton Physician (101 KB PDF file; Adobe Acrobat Reader required; if you have trouble accessing this newsletter, refer to “PDF (Adobe Acrobat) files” on our support page) and was written up in this Chilton Memorial Hospital press Release.