Vanessa is a documentary filmmaker and television producer with 25 years of television and documentary experience. For the last 15 years she has been producing on ABC TV's biographical series 'Australian Story'.
She is also a freelance writer, writing teacher and published her memoir, Layla's Story in 2005.
In my classes, I use a free writing technique that helps get the critic out of the way, keeps the pen moving, and lets the words flow. I usually start with the client writing from life, as I find this easier than fiction. We might look at a time in their life that was a turning point, good or bad, and write about that experience.
The blank page can be a safe and private space to reveal the self in all its confusions, contradictions and complexities. Keeping a journal or just free writing through some difficult experiences or memories can be such a therapeutic practice, as much is revealed and thoughts and feelings can be explored without judgment or any need to change or fix.
After a few weeks of sessions, one client revealed that he would like to try writing a memoir about his struggle with alcohol, and all the crazy and self-destructive things he had done while under the influence. His turning point had been finding himself in the lock-up and not remembering what had got him there. It was exciting to work with him and to encourage him to really find his most honest self to put on the page. Even if nothing gets to publication, I have no doubt that just the process of writing will reveal a lot to him.