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ONLINE: Fiction Writing to Help Manage Chronic Pain

25th June, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

A red first aid box with a piece of paper standing in it. The paper is titled ‘Distraction Technique’ and has words like ‘Hip Pain,’ ‘Multiple Sclerosis,’ and ‘Fibromyalgia’ on it.

Explore the ways writing can be used as a powerful distraction to help manage chronic pain, in this online creative writing workshop led by writer Gillian Shirreffs, who lives with MS. We’ll practice the skills involved in writing fiction and have fun developing our own characters and stories.

Fiction Writing to Help Manage Chronic Pain, Online, Thursday 25th June, 2pm to 3pm, Women only


“I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in May 2007. One of my main symptoms was nerve pain so I was given a number of drugs to try to find one that would help. Unfortunately, none of them did. In the months that followed I spent lots of time in bed and started to write stories to pass the time. I discovered that when I was fighting with sentence after sentence, I wasn’t aware of the invisible shards of glass sticking into my skin. When I stopped writing, the nerve pain would come back. I thought it was just something odd about me but then I found out that scientific research has shown that distraction technique can help manage chronic pain. Distraction technique basically describes doing something you enjoy and focussing all of your attention on it. By doing so, you can distract yourself from pain. So, if you have chronic pain and you like to write, or you’ve always fancied writing, why not join us? This one-hour workshop will serve as an introduction to fiction writing. We’ll use prompts from our writers’ first aid kit to develop characters and stories in a fun and supportive environment.” – Gillian Shirreffs

You can read some of Gillian’s writing, ‘ILLNESS: A Narrative in Four Parts’ which explores being diagnosed with and living with MS, here: https://thepolyphony.org/2020/05/04/illness-a-narrative-in-four-parts-part-one/


GWL Workshop Outline

During the workshop you will participate in writing exercises so please have a pen and paper or a device to write on. Gillian will offer moments for you to ask questions or comment, but you don’t have to share anything if you prefer not to. Get in touch if you’d like to know more about the session.

1.50pm: Signing in. You can get settled and sign in to the session before it begins at 2pm.

2pm: Welcome and Housekeeping. Welcome and introductory comments from Gillian.

2.05pm: GWL Slide. Opportunity to familiarise ourselves with Zoom and the GWL approach to workshops.

2.10pm: Introduction.  Introduction to Gillian in terms of both creative writing and chronic pain.

2.15pm: Distraction Technique. The Lemon Exercise. An opportunity to try out distraction technique.

2.20pm: Focus on Fiction Writing. Introduction to our writing exercises.

2.22pm: Exercise on Character. Opportunity to create a rounded character.

2.32pm: Writing Practice: Precious Object. Opportunity to bring your character to life.

2.50pm: Post-workshop writing. Take-away exercise to keep you going.

2.55pm: Final questions and thanks             


This event is now fully booked. However, due to lots of interest, Gillian has offered to lead a second workshop which will take place on Wednesday 8th July from 2pm to 3pm. You can book your place here.

The event is free and for women only* (12+). To attend, please book below and we will share an email invitation with you.  If you would like to make a donation to Glasgow Women’s Library, you can do so here. Please note that booking will close at 12 noon on Thursday 25th June.

*All women-only events are inclusive of Trans and Intersex women, as well as non-binary and gender fluid people.


This session takes place via an online video call link. If you would like to attend, please book below and we will share an email invitation along with simple and straight forward instructions on how this will work. If you have any concerns about how this will work for you, please do get in touch and we’ll do all we can to support you in joining the session.

If you would like to see session notes in advance of the workshop, please get in touch by emailing emily.ilett@womenslibrary.org.uk.


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25th June, 2020
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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Glasgow Women’s Library
0141 550 2267
View Organizer Website