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Writing as Catharsis with Tim Baker

Event description

We’ve all read for comfort, solace, searched for books to guide us through the darkest and most trying of times. But can we write the story we are searching for ourselves to light the way ahead?

Writing has long been recognised as a way of processing profound moments, deep trauma and grief. Does it have the power to heal? After nine years living with stage 4 cancer, best-selling and award-winning author Tim Baker would like to believe it does. Personal writing has formed an important part of his own, holistic self-care long before he imagined there might be a book in it. Can we become authors of our own life story and write our way out of the existential corners we might sometimes feel hemmed in by? Find out in this single day workshop sensitively facilitated by Tim.

“This workshop far exceeded my expectations. Tim held the space beautifully and was a truly wonderful facilitator. I haven't done much free writing and found it to be a deeply insightful exercise. His advice about writing about the more difficult themes of illness, loss, grief etc was excellent.”


In this workshop you will learn simple free writing exercises to get out of the way of your own writing, tap into your unconscious and allow what needs to arise to percolate to the surface.

    • You’ll learn to distinguish between healthy venting and purging and unhelpful wallowing.
    • We’ll explore the differences between personal writing for healing and writing that is ready for and warrants a reader.
    • We’ll examine the language of trauma and grief and how writing might usefully re-frame events and experiences to provide a way forward through the darkness.
    • A gentle, stepped approach based on the best available research and Tim’s extensive workshop experience, allows you to approach your own trauma in a gradual and incremental process. There will be opportunities to share, debrief and support each other, cultivating a safe circle of trust in the room. By sharing our personal stories we’ll come to recognise that everyone is dealing with something, and we are not alone in our suffering.
    • Short, guided meditation exercises offer the chance to clear your thoughts and settle emotions at regular intervals throughout the day, and prepare a calm mind for each stage in the workshop structure.
    • Tapping into trauma can be triggering and participants are urged to examine the level to which they are comfortable in taking their writing. There is no pressure or obligation to share what is often highly personal and challenging writing throughout the day, but is recommended as a means to assess your own writing, receive feedback and support and practice vulnerability in a safe and carefully managed environment. 
    • There is no suggestion here that writing for catharsis can or should take the place of qualified mental health care or counselling.
    • Participants will leave with the tools to pursue their own writing as catharsis, whether as therapy, for publication or simply to better understand the circumstances they find themselves in.

Who is it for: Any level. Those wishing to develop their writing practice as a tool to process trauma, grief and loss.

    Workshop Details

    When: Saturday 1 June, 10am – 4pm

    Where:  In-person at the Byron Writers Festival office

    Cost: $155 members/$200 non-members

    Group size: 10 participants max.

    About Tim

    Tim Baker is an award-winning journalist and storyteller specialising in surfing history and culture and the best-selling author of numerous books on surfing. His latest book Patting The Shark documents his journey managing a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Tim wrote Patting The Shark as part of a creative writing PhD scholarship from Griffith University. He is a former editor of Tracks, Surfing Life and Slow Living magazines, and a two-time winner of the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Culture Award. 

    His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review, the Sunday Age, the Bulletin, Inside Sport, GQ, Text Journal as well as surfing magazines around the world. In July 2015, Tim was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and nine years on remains in good health and spirits, still surfing, writing and travelling. He has spoken at cancer conferences and patient forums calling for a more integrative approach to cancer care. 

    Patting the Shark was selected by Caroline Overington, literary editor of The Australian, as one of the best books of 2022. An extract from Patting The Shark in the Weekend Australian magazine was selected by Apple News as one of its “Fascinating Reads” of 2022 and one of its most read articles of the year. He has appeared at writers’ festivals and run writing workshops at Byron Bay, Ubud, Sydney, Newcastle and Margaret River writers festivals. His “Writing as Catharsis” workshops in Byron Bay sold out two all-day sessions last year and attracted enthusiast participant feedback. 

    “Tim Baker is an Ubud Writers and Readers Festival favourite and the success in his writing workshops is testimony to both his skill in teaching and also writing. For some people it can be a life-changing experience.”
    Janet de Neefe, Ubud Writers and Readers Festival founder and director.

    Want discounts to our out of season events and workshops? 

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    *Please note, if you are experiencing financial difficulties payment plans are available. Please contact our Project Manager, Amy Shaw on projects@byronwritersfestival.com

    All workshops are 18+

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