Lisa Cooper Ellison

Writing About Trauma

How to P.A.C.E. Yourself


Lisa Cooper Ellison


Live on Feb. 24, 2022, or watch recording


New memoirists preparing to work on difficult stories


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

As memoirists, we’re told to write about what keeps us up at night. But what if your up-at-night topics include distressing stories that keep you up all night—or worse, they derail your writing process?

While writing about trauma can be healing, approaching the process with a “rip-the-Band-aid-off” mentality can harm you and your motivation.

During this Feb. 24 live class with Lisa Cooper Ellison, you’ll learn when it’s safe to write about traumatic experiences, how to write about them without re-traumatizing yourself, and if trauma pops up unexpectedly, how to administer emotional triage. Lisa will teach you the P.A.C.E. method to moderate the intensity of your writing. P.A.C.E. is an integrative approach to writing about trauma that combines mindfulness, holistic self-care, and targeted strategies that help writers explore painful experiences from a place of resilience and strength. P.A.C.E. strategies include practices that support the writing process as well as techniques for writing about trauma that build writer agency and create powerful insights for the reader.

You will learn:

  • How writing about traumatic experiences can benefit you
  • When you shouldn’t write about traumatic events
  • How to perform emotional triage if trauma unexpectedly pops up in your manuscript
  • How to write about painful memories without divulging every detail
  • Identifying which painful experiences belong in your memoir

This class will also address challenging questions, such as:

  • Is there a way to write about your wounds that doesn’t sting?
  • What if you don’t want to write about your darkest times?
  • What if that’s all you want—or know how—to write about?

After the class, all students will receive a self-care guide for writers filled with tips and strategies specifically designed for writing about emotionally difficult topics.

Who should take this class

  • New memoirists who are preparing to work on a difficult story
  • Memoirists who want to write about traumatic experiences in ways that affirm and support their healing and growth
  • Memoirists who feel stuck or have stopped writing because the work has become too intense or painful
  • Memoirists who have questions about which painful experiences to include in their books and what readers actually need to know
  • Memoirists who want to learn how to write about traumatic events without retriggering themselves
  • Creative nonfiction workshop leaders looking for strategies that can support their students and create positive workshop experiences
  • Mental health counselors who encourage clients to write about their trauma

This class probably isn’t suited for:

  • Memoirists who are not writing about painful moments
  • Advanced writers who’ve already discovered how to write about their pain
  • Veteran workshop leaders who have already established best practices for moderating the intensity of their workshops

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

Lisa Cooper Ellison

About the instructor

Lisa Cooper Ellison is an editor, writing coach, and speaker with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a background in mindfulness. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art and currently teaches courses in memoir, creative nonfiction, scene writing, and mindful writing practices. Her life story and essays have appeared on NPR’s With Good Reason and in Hippocampus Literary MagazineKenyon Review OnlineHuffington Post, and The Guardian, among others. 

Lisa’s course was fantastic. Thanks for making her expertise and course materials available! Everything was done at an impressive level of professionalism.

Sam Farler, student

Lisa is both an accomplished teacher and very talented practitioner of mindful writing. She is a very capable, empathic and insightful writing teacher, who creates and sustains a safe, warm space for students to learn and become successful writers themselves.

Rita Hart, student

Time flew by, an indicator that the webinar was good and on point. Thank you to Lisa for offering us a generous amount of useful info. My questions were answered.

Gillian Foster, student

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Lisa will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
  • Self-care guide for writers. After the class, all students will receive a self-care guide for writers filled with tips and strategies specifically designed for writing about emotionally difficult topics.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.