Writing from the Wound

When Pain Becomes Art

Writing from the Wound


Trauma-based nonfiction is popular in this current moment, but what personal and professional costs are associated with writing about trauma? How can we maintain a literary standard when writing about loaded topics? How can we resist an impulse towards melodrama and cliché?

This day-long workshop will begin with a discussion about the stereotypes and potential pitfalls of writing about trauma; we’ll then focus on literary and practical strategies for avoiding those pitfalls. You’ll leave this workshop having learned how to create scenes, choose a structure that strengthens your story, connect your personal story to a larger cultural narrative, and manage the ethics of telling such a personal story.

During this workshop you will:

  • DEVELOP an understanding of different essay structures and how structures can be used to convey trauma;
  • IDENTIFY strategies for conveying problematic characters with empathy and compassion;
  • GAIN a better understanding of how setting can be used to convey difficult emotional content;
  • LEARN the legal ramifications/pitfalls of writing nonfiction about traumatic events; and
  • DISCUSS coping mechanisms/techniques for managing the psychological effects of reliving trauma through writing.

The workshop is open to writers of all levels.

Saturday, June 16, 2018
10:00 am – 4:30 pm

Advance registration strongly recommended.
The workshop is limited to 16 students.

Location // 5119 Coral Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15224

The lower level of our workshop and gallery space is wheelchair accessible. Free on-street parking is available.

Doors open at 9 am, event begins at 10 am. Breakfast and coffee will be provided. The workshop schedule includes a mid-day break for lunch at area restaurants, but boxed lunches can be provided for a nominal fee (advanced notice required) and a kitchenette, with refrigerator and microwave, is available onsite for packed lunches or snacks.

Kelly Sundberg is the author of GoodBye, Sweet Girl: a Story of Domestic Violence and Survival. Her essays have appeared in Guernica, Gulf Coast, The Rumpus, Denver Quarterly, Slice Magazine, and others. Her essay "It Will Look Like a Sunset" was selected for inclusion in Best American Essays 2015, and other essays have been listed as notables in the same series. She has a PhD in creative nonfiction from Ohio University and has been the recipient of fellowships or grants from Vermont Studio Center, A Room of Her Own Foundation, Dickinson House, and The National Endowment for the Arts.

Questions? Please call us at 412-404-2975 or email our director of education, Sharla Yates at yates@creativenonfiction.org.

More to do!

The evening before the workshop, Friday, June 15th:
Kelly Sundberg will read from Goodbye, Sweet Girl: a Story of Domestic Violence and Survival at White Whale Bookstore.