Creative self-care

6-week journaling course for arts, health & wellbeing practitioners

Person writing in a journal

Monday evenings from 28th February - 4th April, 7pm - 9pm: Online

Creative journaling will help you gain clarity, restore balance, find nourishment and feel connected.

Perhaps you feel exhausted and burnt out from the pandemic. Work might feel increasingly stressful as you juggle complex demands amidst a climate of change and uncertainty.

Maybe you feel isolated, working from home with little support. You have an overwhelming need for time and space, yet you soldier on, struggling to get to the end of your to do list while looking after everyone else.

This 6-week programme will help you create time to pause, reflect and connect with yourself and others. I will share creative approaches to journaling that will help you to gain insight and perspective leaving you calmer, clearer, and better able to care for yourself on an ongoing basis.


 Is this you?

• Working in a changing, complex, and uncertain environment often leaves you feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

• You are freelance, or frequently work alone or from home, and feel isolated and unsupported.

• Work is meaningful and nourishing but can be emotionally draining and you find it hard to stay balanced and centred.

• You sometimes feel close to burnout.

• You facilitate others’ creativity, but somehow find it hard to sustain your own.

• You often feel like you’re going it alone and wonder if you are good enough, doing enough or getting it right.

• You are curious and open to learning but find it hard to make space for reflection.

• You find it easier to think through talking, writing, making and creating with others, but don’t have a community of support.

This group programme will guide you through creative and reflective journaling as an ongoing practice of self-care.

Across six sessions, you will:

● Explore different approaches to journaling as a core part of self-care

● Disengage from the stresses of the world to create time and space for yourself

● Harness curiosity and compassion in the process of getting to know and understand yourself

● Experience increased calm, clarity, and connection

● Learn how to care for yourself amidst challenge and complexity

● Feel better able to identify and advocate for your own needs

● Acknowledge external challenges, as well as habits and behaviours that hold you back

● Find supports and structures to help you along the way

● Become clearer about the values that anchor you

● Discuss and share ways to sustain a writing practice


"The idea of care and creativity, and the invitation to make calm, safe space for yourself, your writing and reflection was a radical offer.

I learned so much from this process. I met myself, this person who is often so hidden.

I will cherish the time offered by this experience, the understanding wrought between all the participants and the empathy shared."

Helen Cole, CEO / Artistic Director, In Between Time (previous writing for self-care retreat participant).



Hi, I am Jane Willis,

I have spent the past 30 years developing, delivering, and evaluating creative programmes that foster health and wellbeing while also training, supporting, and mentoring artists, leaders and managers across the arts and health sector to do the same.

I love this work!

But there have been times when the stress and exhaustion of juggling work and caring responsibilities has left me overwhelmed and close to burnout.

A life-long journaller, I turned to creative writing as a way to better understand and care for myself amidst the pressures of work and life.

Having recently completed a master’s degree in creative writing for therapeutic purposes, I have translated my own creative journaling methods into a programme to share with others.

I believe that learning to care for ourselves with kindness and compassion, is essential if we are to create wider cultures of care. And - given the context of COVID, the uncertainties inherent in the arts and health sector, and the pressures of juggling work, freelance careers, and other responsibilities - this is an urgent and necessary priority for us as individuals, as well as for the the sector as a whole.

Find out more about Jane

“Jane provided a very safe and welcoming space. I do not think it could’ve been better”

Previous writing for self-care retreat participant


What you'll learn

For me, the process of learning to care for myself has been like learning to swim. I have used my journal to navigate choppy waters and turbulent seas; to recognise and relax into moments of calm; to find anchors and supports along the way; to enjoy being in the water.

This programme will guide you through the six stages of my journey. Here’s what we will cover in our six weeks together:

1. Dipping a toe in the water

We will start by exploring ways into journaling, connecting with ourselves and each other through simple, accessible and creative prompts – including freewriting, sentence stems and captured moments - to generate increased self-awareness and self-compassion.

2. Immersion

Turning to the natural world and experimenting with haiku, we will explore writing as a mindful activity that will help us disengage from the stresses of the world in order to find calm and balance by reconnecting with ourselves and the present moment.

3. Mapping the currents

Self-care is a situated concept. Taking stock of things in our lives that nourish and deplete, we will use list writing, image and metaphor to explore ways to maintain healthy boundaries while inviting more joy and pleasure into our lives.

4. The Undertow

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we get stuck. We will use characterisation and dialogue writing to identify and play with a cast of inner characters, giving voice to aspects of ourselves that, not being heard, might be holding us back.

5. Anchors

Taking others’ words as inspiration, we will explore how writing can help us discover our own voice and create something tangible – perhaps a folded booklet, poem or personal manifesto - to anchor us in this work.

6. Jetties and Buoys

We will close with some reflections on the things that guide, hold and support us, using writing as a way of exploring our own questions, our own needs and what we want our next steps to be at the end of our six weeks together.

“In the past I’ve tended to be ‘hair shirt’ about self-care. My attitude has been “Just get on with it!” [This] has created a paradigm shift for me. I can’t quite explain, but it’s something to do with being held in a place where I don’t need to hold or feel responsible for others.

I felt released from the need to care for others and this freed up a lot of energy for my own creativity.

In a world that can seem relentless and competitive, I was able to fill myself up with the most wonderful moment of all: right here, right now. And to enjoy sharing that moment with others who were also finding their calm centre.”

Barbara Bloomfield, Writer / Counsellor (Previous writing for self-care retreat participant)

The details

● The course will run on Monday evenings between Monday 28th February to Monday 4th April. Meeting weekly will support you to develop a regular writing practice.

● Workshops will take place between 7pm – 9pm, so that you have time to unwind from work before enjoying this creative time for yourself.

● Workshops will be held live on Zoom so that we can connect and get to know each in real time.

● Each workshop will include time away from the screen for writing as well as time on screen for discussion and sharing so that this won’t feel like work!

● Numbers are limited to 8 people so that there will be space for discussion and sharing.

● We will use breakout rooms to enable us to connect with each other in small groups.

● We will work at your pace – including a comfort break - so that, even if you have had a long day, this will feel nourishing and relaxing.

● Workshops will not be recorded so that you feel able to express yourself freely.

● Handouts for each workshop will be sent by email before each session so that you can print anything you might want to refer to.

● If you have to miss a session, you can work through the material in your own time.




Full price

£150.00 (payable in three instalments of £50 if preferred)


If you are a freelance creative practitioner balancing paid work with additional caring responsibilities, there are two bursary places offered in partnership with the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance and bookable on a first come first served basis. We trust you to choose this option when booking if your situation meets these criteria and you cannot afford the full price. We appreciate that you are probably time-poor as well as cash-poor and therefore will not ask you to fill in an application form.


“The practices you showed us will certainly inform my self-care in future, and I definitely feel that I learned a great deal about different activities and different resources to create a self-care tool kit.”

(Previous writing for self-care retreat participant)


This course is for you if...

● You want to find sustainable, enjoyable ways to care for yourself

● You know that bath bombs and fancy candles are not the answer

● You are willing to be curious, creative and expressive

● You have never written before and want to find out how to start a journaling practice.

● You already write and would like to explore new and creative ways to develop your journaling practice.

This course isn't for you if...

● You want to learn to write a memoir or get your work published

● You don’t have time or are not willing to attend all (or most!) of the sessions.

● You are looking for a quick fix

● You are looking for professional feedback on your writing for publication

● You are looking for therapy to support your mental health

“I have always journaled, but this creative writing course opened my mind to a new way to explore. The creative techniques I learned have given me powerful tools to know myself and look after myself better.

Learning from Jane was a great pleasure with a lot of thought-provoking playfulness and time for quiet personal reflection.

Meeting a group of lovely people was another highlight.

I recommend this to all who want to explore, learn and develop and know themselves better.”

Emma Lazenby, Director, Formed Films CIC (previous writing for self-care retreat participant)

Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the course take place?
The course will take place on Zoom. A link to take part will be sent to you in advance of the course starting.

What technology do I need to take part?
You will need access to a computer or laptop with an internet connection, camera and microphone. Headphones can be helpful to ensure clarity and privacy, but are not essential. A wired ethernet connection will work better than Wi-Fi.

Is there support available if I have never used zoom before?
If you are new to Zoom, I will send you written guidance on how to use Zoom and the functions within it such as chat and breakout rooms.

When does the course start?
The course will start on Monday 28th February and run for six consecutive weeks.

What time are the workshops?
Each workshop will take place between 7pm and 9pm. It is important to arrive on time since we will start each session with group interaction and introductions which are an important part of creating group safety and cohesion.

Do I have to attend all workshops?
You do not have to attend every workshop. However, it is important to try and attend them all if you can since each one is designed to build on the one before. If you have to miss one or two, handouts and writing prompts will be emailed to you so that you can work though them in your own time if you wish.

Do I have to attend for the whole session?
Yes, it is important to attend a session from start to finish. This is because each workshop has been designed as a safe container for writing and expression, with an opening activity designed to lead us safely into writing and sharing and closing activity to guide us gently back to closure and ending. If you are late, or miss some of the session, it may affect the experience for others.

What will happen if I arrive late?
If you know you are going to be late, please let me know in advance so that I can notify other members of the group.

Will there be recordings of the workshops if I miss a session?
No, there will not be any recordings made of the workshops. This is so that we can create a space that feels open, safe and trusting.

How much time will I need to dedicate to this programme?
It is entirely up to you how much extra time you set aside for writing outside of the 2 hours a week for the workshops themselves.

Will there be homework to do between each session?
There will be an encouragement for you to commit some time every day for writing during the course, but this can be as little as 5 - 10 minutes a day – you will discover that writing in very short amounts of time can be as productive as longer stints.

Will you be running this programme again?
I intend to run the programme again towards the end of 2022. Do email me if you would like to be notified of future dates.

Do I need to buy any equipment, books or materials?
No, you don’t need anything other than a pen and paper! However, I recommend you find a journal and pen that you really enjoy using. I will share my own personal recommendations for journals and pens ahead of the course.

Will you supply a reading list or further guidance on journaling for self-care?
There will be resources and a reading list to accompany the course, but there is no requirement to read anything in advance of the workshops.

Will you give professional feedback on my writing?
No, your journal is private and the writing encouraged through this course is for your own benefit rather than for publication or critique.

What support is available if I uncover personal material or feelings that are distressing?

This is not a therapy or counselling group. I am trained to masters level in therapeutic writing, but I am not a counsellor or therapist. The writing exercises are carefully structured to ensure that you keep yourself safe from undue distress or harm during the programme, and everyone will be encouraged and guided to look after themselves as part of the work. However, if your writing triggers or uncovers material which is distressing, I will stay behind at the end of a session to check in with you and make sure that you have somewhere or someone to turn to for further help and support. There is a handout available on further resources and sources of support, including action and helplines, counselling directories and voluntary sector organizations providing counselling support and guidance around specific issues.

How much does it cost?
The cost is £150. This includes six two-hour workshops and handouts.

Is there a payment plan?
Yes, if you prefer, you can pay in three £50 installments as follows:
● £50 payable in signing up for the programme
● £50 payable before the start of the programme on 28th February
● £50 payable halfway through the programme on 14th March

Is there a bursary option if I cannot afford the full price?
Yes, there are three £50 bursary places available for artists or freelance practitioners who are juggling paid work with additional caring responsibilities. These are available on a first come first served basis.

What is your refund policy?
If, for any reason, you change your mind about taking part in this programme within 5 days of booking, we will refund all fees paid less a £30 refund administrative charge, except where the course begins within this 5-day period, in which case we cannot offer a refund unless we are able to sell your place to another participant. Please note that if you leave the course after it has begun, or if you fail to attend all or any part of the course, no refund will be made. If we cancel the course for any reason, we will refund any fees you have paid to us in their entirety. 

How will you manage my data and privacy?
By booking, you agree that we may collect and store personal information about you and your interactions with us for the purposes of running this course. This includes: your personal contact details; gender; details of your booking and booking history, including any access needs you have told us about; records of payments (not including credit/debit cards numbers, etc.); any correspondence and any other information we need to keep in order to administer your booking. All personal information is kept securely. We will use this information to communicate with you about your booking and we may, unless you tell us otherwise, communicate with you occasionally about our work and other courses and support that we offer. We never share or sell information about our course participants with any third party, either in aggregate or in individual form.