Teaching

“To call forth the mind and heart of others, one’s own work has to be from the mind and heart. You must be willing to ask real questions: What are the issues? What are the possibilities? What do you feel? What local stories do you have to tell?” — Jean Houston, A Mythic Life

Jean Houston in February 2012:
an author and teacher who has inspired me

How do I differ from other writing instructors?

I inspire students to write from their deepest self, not just to arrange and rearrange words. Besides sharing skills and training in creative nonfiction, I offer expertise in diverse fields and genres — not just one specialty area.

I can design workshops to meet the themes and content needs of diverse groups in the following areas:

  • Nonfiction and creative nonfiction
  • Journalism
  • Screenwriting
  • Creative writing
  • Personal transformation (Journalling, Dream work, Healing and Recovery, etc)
  • Travel writing
  • Writing for children
  • Editing

Rosa Reid, an editing student for more than a year, says:

“I was fortunate to find such an accomplished mentor to share her editing skills and practical knowledge with me. Heather set up weekly sessions that included hands-on editing and homework. These one-hour sessions were followed up with review and advice.

“Her lessons were concise and helpful, and questions were encouraged. I enjoyed learning in a one-on-one environment that was mindful of my goals and abilities.”

Students at Powell River Digital Film School,
part of Brooks Secondary School in B.C.

Eager to learn more about writing on your own or in a group? Check out my varied offerings below. For private, one-one-one sessions, see Coaching.

For my current and upcoming Writing Workshops, please see News/Events

For my SoulCollage workshops, please see Workshops

Deena Metzger: another inspirational author
and one of my teachers

Workshops and coaching available for

  • Creative nonfiction (memoir; essay; first-person narrative, etc): I work with clients at any stage of a project, from concept to completion
  • Journalism (books, articles, opinion pieces, etc)
  • Fiction (short fiction, picture books)
  • Workplace writing (blog posts, reports, brochures, booklets, etc)
  • Personal writing & journalling (hands-on exercises and feedback on any content from spiritual and inspirational to recovery and trauma issues)
  • Mental health clients (group and individual)
  • Screenwriting (short films, short docs, features, treatments)

I offer writing workshops on writing as a spiritual practice, and other topics by request. I have taught throughout Vancouver, on the Sunshine Coast, in the B.C. interior, and online.

Writing workshop at Edenvale Retreat Centre, Abbotsford, BC in March 2012

TRAVEL WRITING
I have taught travel writing in Continuing Education at Capilano University in Sechelt, BC. This covered practical tips, like writing a query and generating story ideas, to different styles of travel writing, both online and in print media.

CREATIVE WRITING
I have taught creative writing at numerous venues, from the Vancouver School Board to Powell River Digital Film School. I taught creative writing to adults with mental illness for five years through Vancouver Coastal Health, also in Sechelt. Teaching gives me great satisfaction; there is always more to learn from my students.

Crossing the threshold:
a vital step in the archetypal journey of life and storytelling

PROFESSIONAL WRITING
I have taught professional writing full-time at Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC and Introduction to Journalism at the Kootenay School of Writing in Vancouver. While at Selkirk College in Castlegar, B.C., I taught all forms of professional or Applied Writing in the Graphic Communications Department from features and news to public relations, humor, and screenwriting. My students did hands-on projects with students in the Department’s three other program areas: Graphic Design, Photography, and Electronic Publishing.

“[R]ecognizing people’s hidden potentials and involving them in nontraditional teaching-learning communities is the best way to foster personal and social transformation.”
Jean Houston, A Mythic Life

Natalie Goldberg: I took a writing workshop with her
and have used her writing exercises in my classes for decades

INSPIRATIONAL & PERSONAL WRITING: For individuals & small groups

As a writing instructor and coach, I help people to reveal and reaffirm their vibrant inner voice as a writer with fun, spontaneous exercises and timed writings. I provide a safe, supportive atmosphere that invites students to write and share personal stories and stream-of-consciousness musings. In my workshops, I strive to help students gain self-acceptance and to write with greater trust and confidence.

A favorite focus is inspiring students to use writing as a tool in personal transformation. I have offered the latter type of courses through the Vancouver School Board, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre, and in private workshops. The works of Natalie Goldberg (Wild Mind) and Deena Metzger (Writing for Your Life) have provided much rich material for my curriculum.

I offer inspirational writing workshops, private tutorials, and small group seminars.

 

WRITING COACHING
I coach writers and emerging writers in person and online, and tailor each session to an individual’s unique needs. Clients range from business owners and consultants to fiction and nonfiction writers. For more information, see Writing Coaching


Maya Angelou: She is one of the most inspirational talents I have ever seen, an accomplished author, poet, actor, singer and much more. When I heard her speak in Vancouver, BC, she spontaneously flowed from reciting poetry to singing to laughing and talking, using no notes. I had never seen anyone, let alone an incest survivor, exude such self-assurance and powerful radiance.

MY TEACHING EMPLOYERS AND VENUES (past and present):

Capilano University (Sechelt, BC)

Coast Arts Building School & Centre Society (Gibsons, BC)

Kootenay School of Writing (Vancouver)

Powell River Digital Film School

Pull Focus Film School, Vancouver, BC

Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC

Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre, Continuing Education,

Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (Sechelt, BC)

Vancouver School Board

 

 

MY EDUCATION

I graduated with an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College, Maryland in the summer of 2009. I was runner-up for the Chris White Award for best memoir excerpt of the graduating class. Decades ago, I received my bachelor of arts degree, with a major in History and minor in English, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Before that, I attended Neuchatel Junior College in Neuchatel, Switzerland and Mimico High School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Anne Frank: What a remarkable girl and writer and inspirational force

Want to keep up-to-date on my teaching workshops and offerings? Click here: Keep me informed

 

COURSES I HAVE TAUGHT: Click here to see details

The Wisdom of Memory: Name, Reframe, and Gain

This workshop, presented at a Sagewise conference in Abbotsford, BC, was designed to address content provided by the host. It incorporated aspects of the Age-ing to Saging movement, based on the ideas of Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.

Sharing Your Story: Writing Memoir

This inspirational one-day workshop introduces students to diverse types of memoir and various aspects of related craft from point of view to structure, chronology, and theme. Filled with many practical tips, it includes writing exercises, published examples of various aspects of craft, and an extensive bibliography. Students, beginner or intermediate, or encouraged to bring a work-in-progress for discussion and constructive analysis.

Here is some feedback that I received for this course:

“Man oh man, I really enjoyed your class! It exceeded my wildest expectations . . . I really appreciate all the materials you introduced to us, with books to follow up on. I got that shot in the arm I was needing to get back to it. I look forward to another workshop. The time went by so fast.”

“Thanks for the information, which will be very helpful to me down the road. I am thrilled about writing, and freshly invigorated, thanks to you and your workshop. Your transparency and perspective were like a fresh wind that blew open the unlatched, swaying door of my passion to write. I was elated with my experience.”

“Learned a lot in a short session. I liked the interaction between the participants and the visual aids. Well presented. Positive.”

“Great tips. Well-structured presentation. Great overview of steps. I really like your manner of presentation: relaxed and informative.”

Alice Walker: I admire this soulful writer and activist
and her willingness to speak out against injustice

Prose on the Road: The Art of Travel Writing

Do you spin tales of your global adventures but never write them down? This fun workshop helps you move your passion for travel from the road to the page. Through in-class exercises and lively discussion, you learn techniques of top writers in this field and read published samples of what works and what does not. Discover the different types of travel writing and gain helpful tips and resources on potential markets.

Saturday, October 3, 1 to 5 p.m., Sechelt, BC Campus of Capilano University
Saturday, April 18, 1 to 5 p.m., Sechelt, BC campus of Capilano University

Cost: $55

“I sure would recommend people taking the course [Prose on the Road] with you because not only do you know your stuff but you have a simple style of teaching it. The four hours flew by.”
— Powell River author Barb Rees

“Thanks for a great workshop. It was illuminating and a sobering reality check. The handout materials worked well and you have provided excellent “must-reads.”
— Richard Till

“Heather knew her stuff . . .Excellent material , good timing . . .Great extra resources. Good pacing . . . Well organized.”

 

Helen Keller: My mother read me Keller’s autobiography when I was a child
— what a way to inspire a young writer!

WRITING COURSES THAT I HAVE OFFERED IN THE LAST DECADE:

(more information available upon request):

FREE THE WRITER WITHIN: Introductory Creative Writing Course

CELEBRATE YOUR STORY

This stimulating, four-week course encourages students to record special moments and significant events that have shaped their life and writer’s voice. You’ll learn the basics of story-telling, how to honour your personal stories, and the role of larger cultural stories such as myths and archetypal tales.

A LIFE JOURNEY: WRITING YOUR WAY HOME

Using life stages from birth to the “golden years” as metaphors, this creative writing course provides a framework to celebrate and share the victories of each student’s process of self-discovery and healing. It helps students to further their skills in self-editing and rewriting and deepen their commitment to their writing process.

SEASONS OF THE SELF

This course introduces the basics of the writing craft (structure, themes etc) through a cycle-of-life metaphor of the four seasons.

WORDS ON A WELCOME MAT: WRITING YOUR WAY HOME

Where do we feel at home? How do we create home beyond us? As writers, how do we share our sense of home with others?; Through timed writing exercises, we examine the sense of an inner and outer home, playing with the metaphors from a welcome mat/doormat to a magic carpet and red carpet. From Virginia Woolf’s concept of “a room of one’s own” to feeling at peace with our body, we explore what makes us feel safe and comforted vs. fearful and out of place.

Mark Twain: His writing talent, irreverence, and adventurous spirit have inspired me since childhood

What do schools say?

“The course was an instant attraction and has consistently been over enrolled. Feedback has been extremely positive, complimenting both the course and the personal style of Ms. Conn as an instructor.”

– Career and Community Education Services, Vancouver School Board

 

“Heather consistently generates enormous enthusiasm and achievement on the part of her students. . .She has been a dedicated and outstanding practitioner of the literary arts in all their dimensions.”

– Tom Wayman, Associate Professor of English, University of Calgary

What do writing students say?

“Heather has an amazing talent and gift.”

“I found Heather to be an outstanding teacher, drawing from her students what they hardly knew they knew.”

“You’re a real inspiration to me.”

“Memorable experience. One of the best classes I’ve taken.”

“We have built up a very special connection within the class. It’s been a great experience.”

“Thanks for being such a great (fantastic) teacher. I really enjoy your creative writing courses.”

One of my SoulCollage® cards

Discover the FUN and INSIGHTS of the SoulCollage® process

What images, animals, colours or objects represent the inner and outer you? Celebrate yourself through this fun, intuitive process. Explore the symbolic power of archetypes. Enjoy group exercises and visualization. Let your Soul out to play. No art experience necessary.I will host a hands-on workshop to introduce the principles and benefits of this dynamic process.Saturday, March 7, 1 to 6 p.m. $55 Yoga by the Sea Studio, 1055 Roberts Creek Road, Roberts Creek Village, The Sunshine Coast, British Columbia

For more information and to register, contact me at 604-886-6520 or 1-800-601-5611. Visit my website www.sunshinecoastsoulcollage.ca. See www.soulcollage.com for more general information about this technique.

What is SoulCollage®?

SoulCollage® is a process through which you contact your intuition and nd create an incredible deck of cards which have deep personal meaning and which will help you with life’s questions.

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