Guided by Annabelle Gurwitch & guest faculty, hone your writing skills, workshop story structure, & practice public speaking with persuasiveness, confidence, & effectively use humor to carry the audience with you into the heart of a story.

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Storytelling allows us to process experiences, encourage empathy and create supportive spaces, communicate effectively in the corporate world, and is a powerful tool for advocacy. Guided by Annabelle Gurwitch and guest faculty, hone your writing skills, workshop story structure, and practice public speaking with persuasiveness, confidence, and effectively use humor to carry the audience with you into the heart of a story.

This week is for storytellers, writers, teachers, performers, students, leaders in any industry, and anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of crafting a story that’s concise and compelling; one that allows you to make an authentic connection with your audience.

Students come with stories from memoirs in progress, journalistic pieces they’d like to turn into stories, Moth stories, and advocacy speeches they’re preparing for presentation to legislatures. Students bring both well-developed narratives and the barest sliver of ideas, and sometimes even several ideas. Through instructor mentorship and group brainstorming, writers hone a single story over the duration of the workshop. Drawing upon her background as a writer and performer, this workshop works on two tracks: writing and performing. See Annabelle’s latest books, interviews, and articles here.

The week culminates in a storytelling event presented live, online, Moth style, without notes, to the Maine community and invited guests at the end of the five-day workshop. See schedule.

Annabelle Gurwitch teaches at Maine Media
Annabelle Gurwitch teaching at Maine Media.

Daily schedule:

Each day breaks down into four 50-minute sections:

Brainstorming sessions:

Students share their works in progress and the group gives constructive feedback on their stories.

Comedy Toolkit lecture: 

Annabelle will share her comedy toolkit which includes easy-to-implement techniques for using humor to tell your story.

Writing Craft:  

Instructor-led interactive discussion:

  • Day one: elements of writing and telling a successful story
  • Day two: building timelines, mapping, outlining, and other ways to develop a story’s
  • Overarching theme and narrative
  • Day three: opportunities for humor and deepening dramatic moments
  • Day three: editing, how to break down editing, draft by draft
  • Day four: essays v. memoir v. op-ed
  • Day five: checklist for developing a writing practice

During daily writing sessions, writers meet in check-in sessions with Annabelle individually. There will also be optional evening quiet online timed group writing meetups.

Daily performing track for storytelling workshop:

  • vocal warm-ups using a technique developed by Kristin Linklater (founder of Shakespeare on the Mount and author of Freeing the Natural Voice).
  • Projection and diction exercises.
  • Presentation coaching and rehearsal.
  • During the week we’ll have three guest speakers who will share their expertise and invite Q and A via zoom.

Past guest speakers:

Jenny Allen – New Yorker writer and Moth storyteller

Brian Kett  – Award-winning writer and 4-time Moth Grand Slam winner

Brian Finkelstein – Moth host and storyteller

Wendy Liebman – Veteran comedian: Jimmy Kimmel, The Tonight Show, Letterman Show

The latest from instructor, Annabelle Gurwitch

You're Leaving When (cover) - Annabelle Gurwitch
“You’re Leaving When?” is a GMA Must-Read and a New York Times WELL Favorite Book for Healthy Living. “This is a story about harnessing resilience and learning how life’s disappointments can teach you about the things that matter most.” -Tara Parker Pope, New York Times
“A vivacious, hilarious, madcap memoir.” – O Magazine

Interviews, articles and podcasts

Read Annabelle’s perspective article for the Washington Post: The end of my life was killing me.

NPR Author Interview: Annabelle Gurwitch’s Mid-Life Maelstrom: Divorce, Cancer, ‘Downward Mobility’

Annabelle speaking to Bill Maher on Downward Mobility


Annabelle’s TEDx Talk:

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Instructor: Annabelle Gurwitch

Annabelle Gurwitch is a master storyteller, performer, and activist.

She’s a New York Times Bestselling author of five essay collections, whose most recent work You're Leaving When? Adventures in Downward Mobility is a 2021 New York Times Favorite Book for Healthy Living, a Good Morning America Must Read and a finalist for The Thurber Prize for American Humor Writing 2022. Her first personal journalist work is supported by The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, founded by her mentor and friend Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed.

Gurwitch uses her essays and live talks to support causes including housing insecurity, bridging economic insecurity, and is currently chronicling living with stage iv lung cancer and inequities in healthcare since her out-of-the-blue diagnosis during covid in the New York Times, Washington Post, and in keynotes at scientific conferences in Vienna, Rome, and Brisbane. She co-hosts Tiny Victories, a (tiny) podcast dedicated to cultivating an appreciation of minor triumphs and small mercies.