Journal Workshop with Deborah Shepard

Identify key writing strengths and continue developing those skills through journaling


Course description

We are living through increasingly turbulent times, in an age awash in online content much of it edifying and conducive to creativity but some of it disruptive to concentration and to maintaining a more contemplative approach to living and being.

This journal workshop, presented by an experienced tutor and journaller, offers a quiet writing sanctuary where you can reconnect with your inner life and discover what is on your mind and what you deeply care about and also deepen your experience of the present. The course includes an introduction to the pleasures of the journal form, with writing techniques and triggers for a series of writing exercises along with discussion and analysis of writing samples from some of the great proponents of the genre: Henry David Thoreau, Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron, Thomas Merton, Etty Hillesum, John Keats, Samuel Pepys, Sylvia Plath, May Sarton, Joan Didion, Anais Nin and Kate Llewellyn.

This six week course will appeal to people wanting to use the journal for self-exploration, or to develop formal writing skills for other projects, or to chronicle and preserve your daily observations of the world, from the humble and small, to the splendid and sublime.

Learning outcomes?

  • Identify key writing strengths and continue developing those skills through continued journalling
  • Continue the reading programme established on this course to enhance the ongoing writing process
  • Have an ethical grasp of the implications of the writing and a method for exploring the impact of the writing on significant others
  • Craft the journal for publication
  • Identify an audience and write a blog

Who should attend?

  • New writers wanting to discover their writing strengths
  • Students seeking a creative outlet and medium for self-expression that will complement the academic writing
  • Students and writers seeking to strengthen and improve their writing skills
  • Journallers seeking further inspiration and focus
  • Life writers engaged on a memoir project and wanting to broaden and deepen their content
  • Fiction writers wanting to use the journal to record observations, notes and ideas for fiction projects.
  • Writers wanting to improve their powers of description and observation.
  • Pregnant mothers wanting to tune in to the new life developing within and to chart the transition.
  • Mothers and Fathers engaged in recording and preserving their children’s development.
  • Grandparents wishing to record their observations of family and new life for posterity.
  • Writers wanting to chronicle the everyday and create a record for posterity.
  • People seeking a writing medium that is contemplative, calming and good for personal wellbeing.
  • People who want to make sense of the things that happen to them and events in the wider world.

Recommended reading?

Author Title Date Place / Publisher
Tristine Rainer The New Diary: How to Use a Journal for Self-Guidance and Expanded Creativity 1978,2004 New York: Penguin
May Sarton House by the Sea 1977 New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Kate Llewellyn The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal 1987 Sydney: Hudson
Ira Progrom At a Journal Workshop:Writing to Access the Power of the Unconscious and Creative Ability 1975,1992 New York: Penguin
Stephanie Dowrick Creative Journal Writing: the art and heart of reflection 2007 Sydney: Allen & Unwin



  • 6 x Tuesdays 19 February - 26 March, 6:00 - 8:30pm
  • $310.00 incl. GST
  • The University of Auckland, City Campus
  • Presented by Deborah Shepard

Seminar presenter

Deborah Shepard

Deborah Shepard

Deborah Shepard is a biographer, oral historian, journaler and life writing mentor for the New Zealand Society of Authors with many years of experience teaching memoir through Public Porgrammes and the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Her books include: Reframing Women: A History of New Zealand Film (2000), Between the Lives: Partners in Art (2005), Her Life’s Work (2009) all of which were critically acclaimed for documenting the contribution of women to the arst in New Zealand. Her journal Giving Yourself to Life: A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal (2015) was described by poet, journal writer and novelist Elizabeth Smither as, “Humane, delicate and bold as the journals of May Sarton or Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s observation of her snail. Her latest book The Writing Life: Twelve New Zealand Authors (2018) provides an inspirational glimpse into the writing lives of twelve of New Zealand’s most loved and acclaimed elder authors.

In her spare time Deborah enjoys photographing nature and posting her photos with short stories on Instagram.

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