In guided autobiography, or GAB, a trained instructor uses stimulating exercises and questions to spark creativity and trigger memories. Each week we tackle a different theme touching on common experiences like family, health, and work.
The sessions last roughly 2 hours and, although the number of sessions can be adapted according to need, will typically run from six to 10 weeks. Between sessions, you write two pages about a strong memory of your experience of the week’s theme. Next week you, and the other members of your small group, share your stories with each other–never more than you are comfortable sharing.
Writing tips are offered but it’s not a creative writing class. Our focus is content, on sharing stories. Your writing will improve and you’ll learn ways to spark memories. Through instruction and group sharing, you’ll gain a greater understanding of some of the things that have happened in your life. There are opportunities for growth, friendship, validation and learning.
Because GAB is based on the premise that learning from the things that have shaped your life is essential to moving forward, it can be a powerful tool for those leaving behind something familiar and unsure which direction to pursue next.
Like the tagline says, “it’s about writing, but so much more.”
A Typical Workshop
In the first hour, the instructor leads the class in a discussion of the week’s theme, plus a few fun and easy exercises to stimulate memories and creativity. Activities that involve drawing, mind-mapping, life graphs and “show and tell,” and are designed to support writing craft, memories and a greater understanding of self. Each theme comes with a list of questions designed to trigger memories.
In the second hour, the class breaks into small groups of no more than six people to share what they have written about the last weeks theme. Sharing stories in a group provides validation for those reading and triggers memories for those who listen. Photographs and other memorabilia are encouraged.