Life Writing with ISPS-US

12/20/2023 04:00 PM - 06:00 PM ET


Creative Writing for Experiencers of "Psychosis" and Family Members


Please register on Eventbrite at Life Writing Registration


This course, facilitated by Tanya Frank, author of Zig Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood (WW Norton 2023); Claire Bien, author of Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head, (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2016); and Mary Clista Dahl, author of Reconciliation of the Heart: Memoir of Mary Clista Dahl: A Healing Journey to Joy, Love and Compassion; will support you to write a personal narrative using lived experience of altered states or what some people might call psychosis.


You may want to build a body of work from the perspective of being an experiencer or to document what it means to be alongside someone in their journey. These sessions are for those who are just starting out as well as those who may be a bit further along in the writing process. All are welcome.


We hope that during the time we spend together, you will gain a deeper appreciation of the skills and techniques that are employed to create powerful prose on the subject.

We will ask each other why we want to write, and indeed how it is possible to express what has happened to us.

Does it fit into words, on the page, outside of the trauma that many of us still feel in our bodies? Whose stories are they to tell and what permission do we need to tell them?

What do we do with them once formed and can they help us to process the experiences therapeutically? Is this advocacy or activism, this truth-telling, and what is truth and memory in writing?

With such questions in mind and through in-class writing activities, you will be guided toward fashioning or further developing a piece of narrative.

As the course progresses, you will have the option to share some of these pages in smaller groups, where we will ask what works well and why. As well as focusing on your own writing, we will read some excerpts of published narratives in the same genre in which you are working to help us to understand elements of craft. We will also share our own insights to the writing process as published authors, shepherding you through the in-class exercises and feedback. This will enable you to read with a writer’s eye and look at how writing functions at the level of the sentence.

The facilitators will post readings using excerpts from the following texts:

Zack McDermott - Gorilla and Bird
Janet Frame​ - The Lagoon
Mark Haddon -The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Lukach - My Beautiful Wife on the Psych Ward
Nathan Filer​​ - The Shock of the Fall
Catherine Cho - Inferno
Daniel Bergner​ -The Mind and the Moon


  • Each workshop will run for two hours.
  • Workshops will be scheduled to run twice a month for eight sessions in total.
  • We will use Google Classroom as our learning platform.
  • At the end of the course, we will have a class reading and a chance to upload your work to the ISPS-US website.