What I know about writing

Sue Reynolds’ TED Talk: “Writing Our Way Out of Trouble”


The fantastic Stouffville TEDx Team: Dr. Jane Philpott, Eileen Nicolle, and Julie Weiss asked me to be part of this year’s TEDx Stouffville, along with 5 other fantastic presenters. The video editing team has worked their magic, and the result can be seen below.

To see the other inspiring talks from that day, please go to the TEDxStouffville website and click on the individual presenter’s names.

Living in the Body – Writing from the Senses


Showing Not Telling – how the Body Knows

Writers studying their craft have it hammered into them: “Show don’t tell.” Showing through sensuous detail is the most effective method for engaging a reader and drawing him or her into a story. The showing creates an individualized picture that lives in the reader’s body; creates an experience that enlivens and enriches every encounter on the page. And it does this through the power of sensuous detail – what can be seen, certainly, and most books focus on vision as the primary (and sometimes sole) sensory input. But powerful fiction also incorporates hearing, touch, taste and smell (the most oft neglected sense in writing).

Using sensuous detail to show the story is not only for the reader, however. This is also the most powerful way to draw the writer into the creative act and the world that he or she is creating.

In the beginning of Anna Karenina, Tolstoy decrees that “All happy families resemble one another; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Telling versus showing is much the same – when stories are “told” they sound like every other similar story, but those that are “shown” leave an individualized and indelible imprint on the reader’s imagination through conjuring up sensory perceptions in the reader’s brain. Continue reading

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In the summer of 2013 I was invited to do a TEDtalk on “Shining the light on our Changing Communities”. I talked about the therapeutic writing program I do with incarcerated women. You can view the talk here.

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