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Writing for Connection & Depth All-Genre Workshop

March 23 @ EST 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

One event on March 23, 2024 at 2:30 pm


This is an in-person, two-session workshop held at Writers & Books, March 16 and March 23, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm.

Nina Gaby and Jessica Pavia

Carl Rogers, “father” of person-centered therapy says: “Before every session, I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human.”

Why does some writing grab us, the words popping off the page like old friends, or at least like people we want to know better? The words settle in, familiar and meaningful, while others leave us uninterested and feeling less connected.

Sometimes it is the structure of the piece, as we see in Carmen Machado’s In the Dream House. Other times, the narrative is based on connection and scene, as in works by Hemingway, Dickens, and Alcott. How does Tracy Kidder take us into the world of the houseless in Boston (Rough Sleepers) or Jon Krakauer drop us into the Alaskan wilderness (Into the Wild)? What is Maggie Smith’s strategy for making her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful an inclusive, intimate conversation about divorce? We read for facts, perhaps, but we crave books that stay with us for a lifetime.

“Facts bring us to knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom,” writes Dr. Naomi Rachel Remen

In this workshop, we will explore approaches to furthering our own connection to the page–
in other words, piercing the page, finding dimension in our stories. We will consider how an unconditional positive regard (a Rogerian person-centered technique) can be a means of supporting ourselves and others in the often difficult process of writing. Participants can expect to take home a short finished piece or a well-burnished revision of an existing draft.

Prior to Session I, participants are encouraged  to read Gaby’s Brevity Blog article for hints on spanning the axis of a page to dig deeper.

Our workshop process will include:

  • A bit of scribbling to warm us up
  • Using elements of Narrative Medicine, Motivational Interviewing, and psychodynamic therapy theory, such as active listening and empathic witnessing, to inform the depth of our work (this may sound academic, but it is not)
  • Visual art techniques and self-reflection
  • Invitation to bring in brief passages of work that have informed or inspired our own
  • Responding to prompts
  • Generative writing time
  • Workshopping brief pieces by those who wish to share

Nina Gaby is a writer, visual artist and psychiatric nurse practitioner who believes that everything is about story but we have to dig deep to give it vitality. Her essays are widely published in anthologies and journals, and her visual art is shown widely in the Northeast. Her work is in collections, including Arizona State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian. She has maintained clinical practices in both New York and Vermont, specializing in general psychiatry and the addictions; has taught at the University of Rochester, St. John Fisher University, and Norwich University; and has presented trainings for the Vermont Department of Health, as well as numerous workshops in the arts and writing.


Rochester native Jessica L. Pavia’s creative nonfiction work has appeared in Electric Literature, Longreads, Catapult!, Roxane Gay’s The Audacity, The Columbia Journal, Breadcrumbs Magazine, and elsewhere. She also writes a bi-weekly column for Write or Die Magazine.




This is an in-person, two-session workshop held at Writers & Books, March 16 and March 23, 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm. Scholarships are available.

If you are a Writers and Books member, please remember to login into your account to receive your discount.


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March 23
2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Event Category:


Writers & Books
(585) 473-2590
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Writers & Books
740 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607 United States
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(585) 473-2590
If you would like to make a request for any accommodation, please email us at accommodation@wab.org at least 10 days prior to the event or workshop.

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