I offer two levels of guided autobiography–GAB1 and GAB2. And, like everyone else these days, I offer them all online.
Some people think that an online group can’t achieve the same level of trust and mutual support as an in-person group, but those who participate in GAB online, and we’ve been doing this since long before Covid, would disagree. I think what makes a big difference is that GAB is highly interactive. It’s not just me talking at you; it’s you talking back at me, and it’s you talking with each other. For a glimpse of what it means to participate in an online GAB workshop series, go here.
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GAB1 is the basic level developed by the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies in California and has a strong focus on life review. In sessions held over six weeks, we explore themes like turning points in our life, family, health, and what we consider to be our life’s work.
The first part of the roughly two-hour session is devoted to activities to enhance self-awareness, encourage creativity, and trigger memories; the second for sharing aloud the stories written at home in the preceding week.
In GAB1, content is key. We learn to write from the heart, how to focus a story, and about writing within an overall structure. We talk about using sensory details and metaphors to bring our scenes alive for others.
Unlike regular writing classes, where group members provide writing critique, in GAB, the focus is on listening closely and providing validation for the experience being shared. Sharing stories aloud in a small group leads to trust and mutual support.
I offer GAB1 through SFU’s Liberal Arts and 55+ program.
It’s a subsidized program so very reasonably priced. I’m unable to provide facilitation for the small breakout groups but feedback says they do just fine. Best way to find out about GAB through SFU (“Story Catching: Mining Memories Through Guided Autobiography”) is by making sure you are on the SFU email list. And then, on registration day, make sure you’re set to register as soon as they open the portal.
The next round of GAB1 through SFU will happen in September-October of 2021 with classes running from 9:30 am to 11:30 am, September 17th to October 22nd. (THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL)
I will be offering GAB1 through SFU again in the new year.
Completing GAB1 is a prerequisite for GAB2.
Those who want to continue gaining benefits from life review and sharing their stories in a small group but want a stronger focus on writing craft can choose to go onto GAB2.
GAB2 borrows from a GAB2 curriculum developed by the Birren Center but, where that curriculum delves more deeply into life review, my GAB2 is intended for those who want to take their writing to the next level.
In GAB2 we spend the first part of the session learning the core elements of writing memoir and discuss things like story structure, developing strong characters, cutting for clarity, and good dialogue. In the second part of the session, we tackle themes like love, finding independence, and gaining resilience–themes you will write about at home and then share aloud with your small group the following week.
We write on themes designed to explore aspects of our behaviour–things like resilience, courage, vulnerability.
The fee is $249 (no GST).
I am offering a 6-week series of sessions of GAB2 In September-October, and another November-December. (BOTH SERIES ARE FULL)