Writing for Birthworkers: a workshop with Rebecca Schiller

Why would birthworkers need to write, I hear you ask? Or possibly, you’re already a few steps ahead of me and have already learned of the many and varied reasons doulas and midwives may need to put pen to paper. From articles in academic journals, memos to colleagues, website copy to emails to clients, the words we choose can create positive outcomes of many kinds.

I was excited and honoured to attend the first workshop of this kind designed specifically for birthworkers. Rebecca Schiller is the perfect facilitator of a workshop like this – a doula with many years experience, Rebecca is also founder-trustee of the Birthrights charity and a prolific writer, with both books and a growing catalogue of articles for broadsheets and magazines under her belt. I know that Rebecca, who is an old friend of mine, felt slightly confused by my insistence on attending, given that I have an English degree, was an English teacher and have published 2 books, but I suffer from massive imposter syndrome. I needed to be given some space and time to consider WHY I write, what I want to achieve and to consider some strategies for creating content efficiently and effectively. And most importantly, I needed to be reminded of the joy of writing, for it’s own sake – for my own personal use and to be shared with the world.

Rebecca’s workshop gave me all this and much, much more. She had gathered an inspiring group of doulas and midwives, all with different aspirations but all passionate about supporting autonomy and choice in the birth room. Held in the peaceful and comfortable environment of Rebecca’s Kent cottage, we shared our insecurities around writing – what holds us back and where those insecurities come from. It’s amazing how our self esteem has such an effect on our ability to string words together, and even more on our ability to press ‘publish’.

Rebecca reminded me of the joy of just writing for writing’s sake. I have been on a journey the last couple of years rediscovering my love of writing poetry, so our 10 minute task of writing a poem was particularly enjoyable. I sat in the sunshine in the garden and wrote the following, which pretty much sums up how I’m feeling about writing right now.

Sometimes words tumble like torrents,
Cartwheeling in my head.
Whizzing through the pen,
Dancing on the page; they leap and trip
Before settling in chaotic mess.

Sometimes words flow sedately,
Organised and controlled
With a precise rhythm, one by one
In an orderly queue,
As each thought follows the last.

And sometimes, words ooze like mud
Being squeezed between toes,
I force each out, toothpaste-like
They come with effort – I am
Wading through treacle.

Always, there is pain and uncertainty,
Even when thoughts are born fully-formed.
Like birth, there comes the moment of doubt, of overwhelm.
And then, at last, the sigh of pleasure
At the last. full. stop.

However we feel about writing, the fact remains that the more we do it, the easier and more fulfilling and effective it becomes. Whatever you want or need to do with the written word in your birthwork, don’t hesitate to book this lovely day with Rebecca – it will reignite your passion, teach you valuable skills and inspire you.

Part of the Doulavation course focusses on writing blog posts and copy for your website. So if you’d like to dip your toe in, or explore many other aspects of running a birth business, find out more about the course here.

And to read more about Rebecca and sample some of her writing, check her out here

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