Writing the Self

The Experience and Potential of Writing for Personal Development

Online – Athabasca University Graduate – Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS 616)

Writing is an important form of human expression and a valuable tool in academia for reporting findings, expressing points of view, or furthering an area of study. Some university students view writing merely as a technical skill-or, at worst, a necessary evil in the process of obtaining certification. However, writing offers diverse potentials, such as giving the writer the opportunity to explore, define, and refine his or her internal experiences.

Compelling evidence exists that the writing process may enhance and expand personal development in a variety of contexts and that writing has therapeutic benefits. This course focuses on exploring these potentials, by engaging students in the writing process and by inviting them to review, study, discuss, and evaluate existing contexts where writing is being used for therapy, creativity, and self-expression, and for research on the writing process.

As a student in Writing the Self, you will be required to commit to a daily writing practice, and you will be invited to express yourself in the form of poetry and fiction. You will also be prompted to write about various themes and explore facets of your lived experience. During the course you will be asked to share selected written work with your course professor and other students. You will work online, participate in student discussion, give and receive feedback, and complete assignments during and at the end of the course.

The three final assignments reflect key topics and approaches covered in this course-the first of these final assignments invites you to write a portrait of self as a means to express and reflect in a personal way. The second assignment encourages you to think about and create a writing application for self or others as a practical exercise. The third assignment requires you to write an essay about a question that will arise out of student discussion, readings, or your professor’s commentary both in this manual as well as online. In other words, the personal, the practical, as well as the theoretical aspects of writing as a means of personal development will be covered.

Regard your participation in this course as an investment in yourself as well as an opportunity to write with more creativity, insight, and enjoyment. You may even find that writing can play a role in your life or in the life of those you work with, beyond where you have used it until now.

Important notice: The process of writing about self can bring up challenging emotional issues. Students are reminded that this course is not therapy and that they must participate within their own capabilities and limits. If a student feels that further support is needed, he or she may discuss with the course professor contacts for competent counsellors and/or psychologists. Neither the professor nor Athabasca University is responsible for any personal problems that should arise during the participation in this course.

Prerequisite: A bachelor’s degree

“Keeping a journal has always been a part of my life, but when I enrolled in Dr Reinekke Lengelle’s Writing the Self, followed by her course in Narrative Possibilities, I experienced a new depth in daily writing. The journaling process became a living exploration of thought that reminded me of lucid dreaming. My ability to reflect upon experiences while observing the feeling states resulting from the writing was a revelation. 

One of the most valuable skills I took away from studying with Reinekke was that the structure of a disciplined daily writing practice created the psychological scaffolding I needed to get through a very challenging time in my life. Writing became a process of transcribing my inner voice from many levels of awareness: heard thoughts, felt sensations, and witnessing new perspectives emerge. As a result of attuning to the process loop of thinking, feeling, and putting words on paper, I learned to actively reflect on what was emerging on the page before me as I was writing. 

I would recommend Writing the Self and Narrative Possibilities as a method of increasing self-awareness in the face of major life — or career —changes, as well as to anyone looking for a creative method of self-care. These writing courses were life-changing for me because they taught me how to listen to my own felt truths as they exited pen onto paper day after day.”

Rachelle Chinnery, mixed media artist, Hornby Island, BC

See this link for registration: http://www.athabascau.ca/syllabi/mais/mais616.php