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Creative Writing and Women’s Writing as Healing: Co-facilitators and participants
These kind reflections are the voices of some of the participants and co-facilitators in my classes.
“In 2012, I had the pleasure to facilitate a writing workshop with Marni Norwich at the Vancouver Public Library. Marni employs a refreshingly unique and effective method for teaching creative writing.
“Her workshop was based on themes reflected in a number of the poems from her collection, Wildflowers at my Doorstep, including ”the body” and “women who inspire.” Throughout the workshop she read these poems as gateways to the writing exercises she presented. In this way, the reading and the writing were interspersed.
“Marni also provided guided visualization exercises and, most importantly, an opportunity for the participants to share their writing with the group.
“As a librarian I value diversity, access for all, innovation, and creativity. Marni’s strength lies in her capacity to put these values to practice. Marni has the innate ability to inspire anyone — even those with no previous writing experience — to not only tap into their creative conscience, but to feel confident enough to write “on the spot” and share their writing with a group.
“I was particularly overjoyed to see some of our regular patrons, many of whom are socially and economically disenfranchised, feel welcome and actively participate in this inclusive workshop. Marni’s open teaching methods and her individual warmth removed any barriers that would prevent anyone from feeling they are not capable of writing. Marni’s workshop was, truly, in concert with the mission and values of the Vancouver Public Library, as she created a free place for everyone to discover and share their creative ideas.
“Marni Norwich’s natural ability to create a supportive environment conducive for creative writing is simply unparalleled!”
Caroline Crowe, Librarian, Vancouver Public Library
“I can tell you that your time with us has made an impact.
Team members are taking greater care with emails, making an effort to be
warmer in tones, supporting and reflecting back to each other.
“I have never seen a training with such lasting impact!
Thanks again for taking such great care to respond to our needs.”
Astarte Sands, Vancouver, BC
Volunteer Resources Coordinator
“I attended Marni’s writing workshop at the Library Square in September 2011. Her techniques on how to slow down and sink into one’s writing were insightful and rewarding but that is not what made her class so special. What is unique about Marni is the level of safety she inspires. There is always this dread, at least for me, in sharing one’s work in front of a crowd. Marni holds the space in such a way that it is easy to get up and read, in fact, desirous to do so. She treats each piece of work as sacred—you feel honoured to have shared. I highly recommend Marni in helping to bring out your most creative aspects.”
“In her workshops, Marni Norwich creates a safe and supportive environment for participants of all writing abilities to explore their creativity. Her facilitation style is empowering and inclusive. I came away from this workshop with the courage to share my writing, and a greater sense of inspiration for my creative work. Marni has a gift for inspiring the creative process and helping participants delve deeper into their writing. Her many years of experience as a facilitator and a writer were evident in the way she held a gentle and powerful space for us as a group.”
Catherine Wilcox, M.Ed., Management Consultant
“In 2011, I participated in a writing workshop led by Marni Norwich, a gifted writer and teacher. Marni structured the workshop around themes found in her book of poetry, Wildflowers at My Doorstep. An inventive instructor who is as attuned to her audience as she is to her material, she used these themes to invite reflection and as beginning points for writing exercises. In an atmosphere of warmth, intelligence, and acceptance, participants wrote and shared their work. Without hesitation I recommend Marni as a choice writing workshop instructor.”
Morgan Chojnacki, Writer
“You are an inspiration as a writer. I love your amazing creativity that was displayed in the handouts and pieces you shared with us. When we have a facilitator like you, no matter if our first language is not English, we as writers become stimulated to create!…I love your stories and your warm approach to giving us feedback.”
“Marni’s writing genius comes from some deep connection to The Goddess. It is practical, spare, incisive, grounded and always uplifting. Her spoken word pulls us with the imperative, Listen, and is impossible not to.”
Dave Dumaresq, Vancouver playwright
“Just wanted to tell you, I thought the class was wonderful 🙂
I wish I didn’t have to miss so much, but you made it easy for me to still get the information.
I loved your energy and teaching style, I think you made everyone feel comfortable to share and participate in the class exercises. I will definitely continue to recommend your course to people I know.”
Megan Barker, Vancouver, BC
“Wednesdays are now the highlight of my week thanks to Marn and her warm generous spirit! She has a gift for creating a beautiful safe and sacred space, allowing for thoughtful dialogue, tranquility, self-reflection, and empowerment. I have never felt so comfortable, and am excited to continue my journey with these wonderful women!
I can’t thank you enough Marn.”
Jasmine, Vancouver, BC
“The gentle and insightful approach Marn offers in her writing/ healing workshops provides a safe and supportive space, enabling a writer of any ability to shed light on those hidden places that have longed to see the light of day. Places that when seen find ease, clarity and perspective and are breathed out of the shadows, back into life’s flow, to find their rightful place.”
Cheree Bacchus, Vancouver, BC
“I really appreciated Marni’s warm encouragement and the supportive culture she created in the classroom. Seeing as a few of us were quite insecure about our writing it helped to foster a healthy environment. Her presentation of topics was enthusiastic and creative.”
Leslie Kennah, Vancouver, BC
I come from Hong Kong and have worked as a government officer in Vancouver for more than 15 years. As English is my second language, I am stressed whenever I am tasked to write a document. I always feel that I cannot express my thoughts clearly and keep making embarrassing grammatical mistakes. I consider this as the biggest barrier to my career advancement. I am very happy that I found Marn. Through our one-on-one sessions, I realize my common mistakes and learn how to connect sentences and paragraphs. This helps me to express my ideas more freely. Marn’s passion for writing is inspiring, and she is very patient and nice to work with. Not only does Marn point out the areas that I need to work on, she also helps me to gain confidence in writing anything. I cannot speak highly enough of Marn.
Esther Chan, Vancouver, BC
Very helpful. Liked that there were many approaches. “No wrong answers” made the learning space safe (and fun!)…Lots of hands-on practice was great. Loved the local East Van references! Liked the non-threatening, non-judgemental approach.
Janet S., Vancouver, BC
High School Student feedback
“Marn has a steady, clever delivery and can reach a large audience. She is so calm and collected, but can also represent a wide range of emotion.”
“I loved this workshop, I learned so much. I learned not to criticize as much and just to write.”
“Learning to channel raw thought will be enormously helpful in my own writing…I am more intellectually versatile than I thought…I thought [the workshop] was utterly brilliant…it could inspire even the most writing-averted people.”
“I learned many new tips about how to be a better writer…I learned that I tend to pour out my emotions while writing.”
“I learned that creativity comes when you just let yourself go. It is best to not worry about anything and just get the ideas down…I learned that I can be more creative if I give myself the time and space and freedom to…
“I benefited from this workshop learning how creativity comes through letting go of self control.”
“I benefitted because the workshop gave me great inspiration for writing.”
“It helped improve some of my creative writing skills and think more deeply.”
“I learned that you can write about anything and make it meaningful.”
“I felt that the exercises were helpful and gave us a chance to write more freely. I liked learning about the tips you gave us at the beginning on writing, they were helpful in taking off pressure for perfection I place on myself. I was able to just write anything that came to my mind…I think it was good for me to write these exercises because I was able to get some feelings out on paper and realized what was really weighing me down.”
“It was helpful to hear about these poems. It was very inspirational.”
“I learned to write first, criticize later, because those first ideas are usually the best…I learned that if you leave me with a pen and paper I can write a lot.”
“What I perhaps enjoyed most about this workshop was how subtle and laid-back it was, whereby the tasks were simple yet decently entertaining.”
“It was a refreshing experience to do live prompts….I realized that it’s hard for me to be honest to myself.”
“I learned that if I actually try, I can be creative and thoughtful.”
“I benefitted from expressing my feelings.”
Recovery class co-facilitators and participants
“I have taught alongside Marni Norwich for the past seven years, primarily in recovery centres. Marni not only brings a wealth of knowledge to her classes but a spirit and empathy which allows room for people to express their innermost voices without hesitation. Marni creates this wonderful space consistently. Her dedication to her work shows in her preparation, her interaction and her follow-up. I recommend Marni’s classes for anyone wanting to add an extra tool to their healing kit. ”
Bonnie Nish MA, Arts Education
Pandora’s Collective Outreach Society
“Promoting The Arts That Inspire The World To Take Notice Of Itself”
Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies In Expressive Arts Therapy
Certified Expressive Arts Therapist
“I have had the great pleasure of co-facilitating writing workshops with Marn Norwich at Pacifica several times over the past year and a half.
“Marn’s calming energy peppered with her humour and brilliant passion for the literary make her as much a teacher for me as she is a colleague.
“I am in awe of her ability to engage the participants and guide them gently and knowledgeably on a journey of healing through written expression.
“On several occasions during the break in our sessions, participants have approached Marn in gratitude for her work.”
Taslim Jaffer, Surrey BC
“Marn Norwich honours both the creative and recovery processes in her work as a facilitator. She first creates a safe space among the group. As they warm to the experience, she provides insight into the creative process so that participants begin to trust and experiment with the tool of writing.
“As her classes progress, she offers powerful literary examples that touch on key themes in recovery and healing. She is wise in how she paces classes so participants who opt to do so may gradually delve deeper and comfortably into their personal histories.
“Marn has mastered the ability to hold a safe space when participants choose to share raw and painful experiences. She offers them a way to emotionally process the negative into heartfelt poems and prose and provides warm feedback that demonstrates the power in sharing their truths.
“Over the two years that I co-facilitated writing classes with Marn at Pacifica Treatment Centre, her quiet power as a facilitator led to many participants’ personal breakthroughs.”
Lindsay G. Kwan, Vancouver, BC
Writing, Editing & Communications
Editor, Art Coordinator & Director, Room Magazine
“Marn brings a peaceful, accepting approach to her class, where support is encouraged. There is no judgment, or right or wrong. We are encouraged to be thoughtful and expressive. The fact that little or no writing experience or educational standards are needed allows anyone to participate. I would definitely attend her classes regularly.”
Steve, recovery facility, Lower Mainland
“I felt like I let out more and was less stressed…Putting pen to paper and sharing what I wrote helps stress… I enjoyed this introduction and I wish more people would really give it a chance.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“Marn is dedicated to her craft in a warm manner. Her compassion and joy create an environment that allowed us to open ourselves through writing…Marn was generous and helpful. She was obviously very excited and involved in the writing craft…Writing is fun and an avenue not always explored. By having this opportunity I could write a feeling and “see” it…Many people worked hard to write and wanted to share what they had written. Fun!…I found I really liked poetry and that it doesn’t have to be down, it can be playful, too…”
Liam, recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“[The workshop] gave me the ability to get in touch with my feelings and explore a different side of writing…I enjoyed explaining writing and my creative side. Gave me confidence in my writing ability and that it can be fun…I learned that I can write and get in touch with my feelings.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“Hearing my story in other peoples’ writing brought about a healing therapeutic value…I would like to just listen to Marn and all her knowledge and wisdom around introspective writing…I also enjoyed just listening to her read poetry.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“I think this is such a good emotional outlet, and it builds self-esteem…Marn created a safe and inspiring space for us to explore our thoughts and open up. This workshop reconnected me to a passion I’ve always had for poetry and creative prose. I feel re-inspired in my recovery and inspired to start writing for myself again.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“I learned to open up and learned about my peers.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
“I think that writing about feelings and emotions is an integral part of recovery. Creating also helps build self-esteem, which is wonderful because so many of us come into recovery with no self-esteem whatsoever.”
Recovery facility client, Lower Mainland
The following testimonials reflect voices of a few of the clients and associates I have been grateful to work with and know.
“Inkcat Media & Associates has provided me with exceptional products and customer service over the past three years. Marni’s enthusiasm, creative ideas, and attention to detail are key attributes that contribute to the successful writing of my quarterly newsletters. As a realtor with 25 years’ experience, I know the value of building and maintaining relationships. I also know the value of implementing a marketing campaign that is effective and brings results. Jonas Salk, humanitarian, said, ‘The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.’ Marni is indeed a treasured connection, and I look forward to many more projects with Inkcat Media & Associates.”
Temmy Ylagan & Associates, Vancouver, B.C.
“I am an aspiring writer, and Marni has been the perfect foil to my ‘I need you to edit my work … but don’t touch a word’ requests. She is patient, respectful, knowledgeable, and understands the needs and eccentricities of artists. In other words, she gets the work done and my ego stays intact! I highly recommend her.”
“Marni has assisted me over the past twelve years in editing my work, allowing it to be presented in a way people find acceptable. She has helped me on many occasions, writing grant applications, a poetry book, and a play. However, the most critical contribution anyone has ever made in my life was the time she assisted me in charging two (senior) psychiatrists with malpractice.
“I was without a lawyer and was facing a very polished professional lawyer from the College of Physicians and Surgeons. It took over two years but in the end, thanks to Marni’s assistance, I got the board to write a reprimand against both doctors (a first in the history of this country). The outcome of this very difficult time in my life was a green light to see my daughter again.
“I have the deepest respect for the talents and integrity of Marni and would encourage anyone to provide her with an opportunity to assist them in their presentation.”
Co-Founder, Artists/Environment Forum, Toronto, Ont.
“I was extremely impressed with Marni’s editing services. Marni worked closely with me until we produced a document that exceeded my expectations. She’s a very skilled writer and editor, along with possessing a professionalism and cheerfulness. I will definitely use her editing services in the future.”
Healthcare Administrator, Vancouver, B.C.
“I cannot thank you enough! I am so happy to have made this decision and have you work with me! I just read your notes and was blown away! I think you have a wonderful perspective of my writing, both the challenges and the insights. I couldn’t have asked for a more poignant consultant. I will be referring back to this document again and again this weekend!”
Trina Furguson, Vancouver, BC
“I am a high school drop out: Grade 8, struck by a severe case of classroom boredom. I am not a studious person, I do not read casually: but I am creative in several different mediums.
I am writing this in the first person, in the present. If I wrote “I was a high school drop out: Grade 8,” I would be looking over my shoulder. This is part of my style, an un-common feature I have been told by an English B.A. graduate. This style takes me back into the scene for memoir writing.
At a local Vancouver performance venue Marni Norwich and I were brushing shoulders on a weekly basis. I am a song-writer and Marni is a poet at that venue. Marni and I began conversing by e-mails.
A local publisher printed Marni’s book of poetry “Wildflowers at my doorstep” at this time. Marni’s sense of humour is enchanting (charming: bewitching).
The e-mails spurred the beginnings of a short story about one adventure from the 60’s that includes hippy communes and a pregnant dog: “Hitching with Dog”. This short story is now a self-published novella available at some libraries and bookstores.
I consider Marni to be my writing mentor. With poetry one does not waste words; I have taken on this style with my writing. To develop one’s voice in writing I believe it is important to write, write and write some more and hopefully have someone you believe in to read your work and lend a shoulder of support. I fell into such a relationship with Marni, and with that I secured a confidence in my writing voice.”
Ernie Sundown Shergold, Vancouver, BC
“I’m highly impressed with Marni’s editing service. She has assisted me over the past year in editing my first book and helped me considerably in believing in myself and trusting the writing process. Marni is a dedicated writer who has embraced my project with compassion and care, opening herself to my concepts and stories with personal interest and professional attention to detail. She doesn’t miss a thing and is consistently mindful of flow and structure as she probes for clarity, while remaining conscientious of my particular style of writing. I recommend Marni for anyone who wants to work with someone who is purposeful, committed and enthralled with their project.”
Linda L. Nardelli, Integrative Counsellor
Mystical Intimacy, An invitation to truth and belonging
“I feel so lucky to have found Marni Norwich when I began searching for an editor for my first children’s book. What caught my attention were her professional yet simple website and the many different editing/proofreading packages she offered. She exceeded my expectations. She was professional and thorough. Her knowledge and expertise was obvious and invaluable. I have no doubt that my work is much better for having gone to Marni! I couldn’t recommend her more highly.”
Maritza Oliver, author and illustrator of Milk and Cookie, a Little Spooky, Burnaby, BC
“Marn Norwich was the obvious choice for the edit of my memoir this year. In the past, I had taken a few writing courses with her, and I enjoyed her remarkable ability to bring out the most creative aspects of my writing. I have been enthused by her points for consideration and her sensitivity to my story. She offered a range of thoughts with regard to my subject matter as well as a selection of possible avenues to take in the direction and arc of my story. She is highly skilled at editing and in catering to your needs as a writer, yet does not pander to your whims. She gets her point across with direction and distinction, offering a multitude of thoughts to consider. I highly recommend her for any writing endeavor you may undertake.”
Trina Ferguson, Vancouver, BC
“Marni is the ideal editor: knowledgeable yet humble; methodical yet creative. She was my first thought when I needed expert help for my memoir. Marni encouraged my unique expression and sense of rhythm while balancing it with questions that not only clarified the meaning I so wanted to articulate but helped me see the myriad of ways my words might be interpreted. Through this, however, she always made it clear that the final choice was always mine.
Encompassing all this is a sense of joy that Marni finds—and imparts to others— through the art of writing. She is an uplifting source when self-doubt and fear get in the way of doing what I love.”