Simon Forsyth - Childfree Writing Workshop
This is a brief chat with Simon Forsyth, who I will be co-facilitating the upcoming 'Taking the Road Less Travelled - Embracing Your Childfree Life' Workshop with.
We discuss what therapeutic/reflective writing is generally and how we will use it to help people reflect upon and deepen their understanding of being childfree. The emphasis is on the content and process in whatever form that works for the participant. It is not about neat handwriting or correct sentence structure. No one will be correcting your work with a red pen and no one has to share anything they have written unless they want to. However, being able to share and hear content with like minded people can be very powerful and enjoyable in itself.
Our workshop takes place on June 26th, 10am to 4pm via Zoom. Tickets are 90e and are on sale now through this link - https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/taking-the-road-less-travelled-embracing-your-childfree-life-tickets-154438492689
We are very excited to hold this unique event specifically designed for childfree people.
The workshop is open to participants both inside and outside of Ireland, but please note that due to insurance limitations we are unfortunately unable to include applicants based in the USA.
Margaret O Connor 0:10 Welcome to season two of the Are Kids For Me podcast. I will continue to speak to people in a range of different circumstances about their personal and/or professional experience of answering this question. Thank you so much for your positive feedback on season one. And I really hope you find these episodes useful. So, Simon, it's lovely to talk to you. I've wrangled you in to help us understand a little bit about writing, kind of reflective writing and therapeutic writing as that is your your area (laughter) Simon Forsyth 0:44 Yes, yes. Margaret O Connor 0:45 So would you be able to give us kind of an overview of what that is? So I suppose in connection to the day that we are organizing on the 26th of June, and so really, the medium for that is reflective writing. So would you be able to explain just in case anyone doesn't know what that is? Simon Forsyth 1:01 Yeah, absolutely. So to me, I suppose the reflective writing and therapeutic writing, it's kind of just stepping away from the idea of writing that has to have like..the idea of a standard, where it needs to have like a certain kind of criteria that it needs to live up to, in order to have merit or, or external validation of any kind, to me kind of reflective writing, therapeutic writing, it's about really connecting in with yourself as a human being, and putting down something on the page. Or if you're kind of using a laptop, just to type. You know, it's really like the the self on the page is one of the phrases that comes up sometimes in the in the biz if I can call it that. And in a nutshell, I think that therapeutic writing is putting down exactly what you are feeling or thinking or believing or hoping, or whatever in that given moment, and allowing it to flow onto the page, without censorship, without worry, without judgment, and with more kind of a sense of openness and freedom, and self compassion. And that's where kind of the ideas behind therapeutic writing ties in with the idea of kind of therapeutic journal writing really, is that just by expressing yourself openly and authentically, that you're tapping into kind of like a reservoir of kind of self knowledge that probably is there bubbling away kind of in the background or in the unconscious, but by just allowing the the medium of writing like whether it's the pen or the laptop keys, they provide a way to unlock that information, I suppose. And, and just allow those things to emerge onto the page and when they're on the page, then you can survey them, you can observe them, you can learn from them. You can accept them, you can reject them, you can query them, there's so many things you can do once they're out there. And that can be therapeutic, because it kind of gets things, like talk therapy, it gets things that are inside of you, outside of you. And then when you've done that, it's kind of I suppose it's fair game, as to what you do with and some of it have been really enlightening. Margaret O Connor 3:04 Okay, so it's really about the..I'm going to say it's the content, it's not about having your margin and having your nice writing and having your spelling and your full stops and all that, like that isn't important at all.. Simon Forsyth 3:17 Not at all, no, not even 1%. It's about freedom of expression. So I say this to people, because I would do workshops and groups around this. And one of the things we kind of check in with at the beginning of each session, when a group is meeting for the first time, for example, is around, I suppose just those expectations that one might have for oneself around, you know, what, what does proper writing (big air quotes) look like? And people will come in kind of, understandably, with ideas from school or college or, you know, Miss McGillicuddy, or whatever that they had when they were eight or nine that said, oh well, you know, you don't do it this way, you do it that way. And then there's the red pen and the idea of kind of a right way and the wrong way. And the whole idea of this type of writing is to say there is no wrong way. There's only write way. Some of the times they use like a nice play on words, having the right spells WRITE to say the right way. But it's and it sounds like when I say it that way, it sounds a bit flippant, but it really is so freeing and so liberating to say, I can sit down, I can put down anything, my letters can be huge, they can be chaotic, they can be like often people will be reading, they'll report that they're reading something and they just literally can't read their own writing. But it doesn't matter because you've got what you needed to get down on the page. It didn't need to because no one's hovering around with a red pen. No one is going to be saying oh, you know, Jenny that was great what you said there but could you have used this simile instead or, you know, maybe your your alliteration could have been.. like it's not a creative writing space. It's in that regards and of course there's a place for that if someone wants to learn to be a writer in that way. That's brilliant, there are classes and courses for those that do great work, but that's not what this is. Margaret O Connor 3:20 Okay, okay, so I really love that description. So it's really freeing. So it's allowing what, as you said, is inside anyway to come out. And you can see it in a different light and kind of work with it. And it's more malleable..is that a word? Simon Forsyth 5:15 Yes, yeah, yeah, for sure. Margaret O Connor 5:18 Yeah (laughter) And you know, you do groups, kind of in lots of different settings. And then I can't even remember when we formed this idea. But I suggest I, I probably lead it (laughter), that it seems to lend itself quite well that the writing.. lends itself to this particular kind of topic of being childfree, and trying to explore that and express that, they seem to work quite well together. So I guess the aim of the day that we're planning, the workshop day in June is very much around that so freedom, expression, kind of exploration of what it means to be childfree. Simon Forsyth 5:59 Yes. Yeah, yeah, I think it was kind of that was what initially attracted me to the idea of doing the collaboration with you, was kind of bridging those, those two worlds, because everything that you've said is so true, that's the reason I love the writing, the therapeutic writing stuff is because it lends itself to that kind of self exploration, that so that is so kind of free and open ended and kind of lacking in judgment, but more kind of space for kind of challenging the status quo in a way that's healthy, I think, and it's kind of it can be self compassionate, as well, and then bringing that into a topic, one that, you know, would resonate for me around kind of being child free, and say, well, how great would it be to to pair those two, in a way that feels feels good? Margaret O Connor 6:41 Okay. And, and I suppose I know, we've talked about, obviously, the plan for the day, and kind of what it what it's going to look like. So I suppose the aim is obviously for people to get settled in and get to know each other, and kind of have a look around maybe some values, I think, again, that maybe if that external pressure, if that's there, you know, so making a different, making a choice that might be might be different to the predominant values, maybe some exploration around that.. exploring just really what it means to be childfree, which, you know, could be different for everybody. And just having those discussions, again, with a group of like minded people, is really kind of the plan for the day. Simon Forsyth 7:26 Yeah, definitely, I'm thinking of the kind of the terms that we put on the flyer, around kind of, like, a space to connect with other people who have kind of chosen that that kind of road as well. Space to kind of reflect on your experiences and feelings in an environment that's open to it. I think that's really important, because it is still one of these areas where, you know, people will feel I think, well depending on the person, obviously, but I think a lot of people will still feel isolated or that it's not something that comes up as as often as you might hope, I suppose, in this day and age. So to kind of have that shared group experience, and I can reflect on my own and then if I want to, I can share with the group. And I think that's important for us to maybe mention as well is that any sharing is completely, it has to be self consensual as well, like no one is mandated to share anything that they write or anything that they think or feel, unless they feel safe and comfortable to do so. And there's no pressure to be kind of like, oh well, you know, Jenny hasn't said anything in a while, let's let's grill her about what she's feeling right now, again, that's not the type of day that we're looking for either. it's one where to get just to provide a space first and foremost, to go inwards. But then great to know, I think that if you, if you feel like sharing, it can be so powerful in a group setting where you know it's going to be met with with a sense of respect and non judgement. That can be empowering just even to know that you can share if you wish to but also to know that it's okay to not if you don't want to. Margaret O Connor 8:53 Yeah, yeah. And I know that was lovely because I did a day with you last year, I guess. And and it was really fascinating to see how maybe working with a particular image or word or poem or whatever it is, and, you know, the 10 people in the group could take a completely different perspective or, you know, hearing somebody else's perspective might help you clarify your own. There might just be a particular angle or word, or whatever it is that they have might help you. So that was great. Simon Forsyth 9:21 Yeah, a shared experience is really unique and special. And I think in that way it can be.. like it isn't group therapy, what we're doing isn't group therapy, but at the same time, like what you've just said there, there can be therapeutic value in hearing other people speak and then yeah, that might kind of ricochet off something of your own and give it more weight or, or more meaning or whatever, it can be really powerful. Margaret O Connor 9:48 Yeah..okay..is there anything else you think people might need to know about the day? Simon Forsyth 9:51 Let's see, I think as well, kind of one of the things we were thinking was that idea of like it's a place to.. kind of I think we both liked that word embrace that we, when we saw that on the page in the in our little flyer. I say that not to like diminish the loveliness of the flyer, our little flyer (laughter). But on the little flyer, the words embracing your childfree life, and then that idea of like embracing your identity, your values, and the opportunities related to being childfree, you know, these kinds of things, I think, again, you know, depending on the person, the stuff that they maybe have a sense of, perhaps very strongly or perhaps not so strongly, but again, how, how good it might be just to have a group where there will be that shared experience of, of going down that path. And as you said, not everyone's experiences will tally up in any way, which is, you know, which is great in a way, because then you could we could you know, there's a there's group learning, there is joint learning within that, how I view my identity as someone who is childfree might vary greatly from someone else's, but I can still learn and hear from that person's perspective that can be so useful in and of itself. Margaret O Connor 11:01 Definitely, yeah. So I will, I'll put up a link, I suppose if people want to learn just a little bit more about therapeutic writing generally, I'll put up a link maybe to your into your website, and you have some information there. And then obviously, I'll put up a link to the event, if anybody does want to find out more about it or book a place. So we are looking at the 26th of June, from 10 to 4, for an online event with limited places, because we want to keep it you know, to have enough time and attention for everybody. But I suppose it is kind of our first attempt at a running something like this. And certainly the first event like this that I'm aware of, I suppose in Ireland, so I suppose we'd we'd love people to join, and hopefully get some benefit from it. But yeah, so all the information will be there, if people want to find out more about so. Yeah, thanks a million. I really appreciate you coming in. And I know we're both really looking forward to the day. So hopefully, people join us so its not just us talking to ourselves (laughter). But yeah, is that okay, is there anything you want to add in? Simon Forsyth 12:09 I think that's about it Margaret, yeah, I'm trying to think without going into like, hard sell kind of kind of mode, but I think there will be something something quite unique. I think that that's my hope for the day really is that there'll be something unique, like a unique space that we're creating here. You know, we're bringing obviously your expertise and my yeah, I'm gonna say expertise (laughter). Our two, our two worlds kind of colliding, in I hope, a really productive and unique way. And I just hope that at the very least it'll be enjoyable for people that they leave with a sense of sense of empowerment, and a sense of fulfillment. And you know, hopefully, along the way, some insights as well, you know, what more could you hope for, for a Saturday at the end of June (laughter). Margaret O Connor 12:51 Yeah it sounds great doesn't it (laughter). Okay, fantastic. Well, we're looking forward to it anyway. So, that might answer a few questions in case anybody was wondering. Lovely, thanks a million Simon, I really appreciate it. Simon Forsyth 13:04 Thanks Margaret. Margaret O Connor 13:13 Thanks very much to my guests for taking part and to you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered in this series. I would also love to build a community of like minded people. So please follow the Are Kids For me pages on Facebook and Instagram if you want to find out more on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you and watch out the next episode coming soon. Transcribed by https://otter.ai