Well Beings - Writing the body through illness and pain - with Marieke Bigg

Arts for Health

Well Beings - Writing the body through illness and pain - with Marieke Bigg

with Dr Marieke Bigg

A six-week online writing course to help you draw lessons from your experience of your own body. For anyone struggling with their body in some way.

9 May 2022 - 13 June 2022

Six Mondays from 6pm - 7.30pm London, UK Time. By Zoom

Registration - click here


For anyone who has felt let down by or is coming to terms with their own body. We will take inspiration from artists and writers who have taken ownership of their bodies. All bodies give life, but no body is limitless. Some of those limitations are inherent to the body itself, may be caused by illness or disability; others come from the ways that our bodies position us in society. In this course, we will write about our bodies to understand what our confrontations with the body’s limits can show us about who we are, who we want to be, how we want to be, and how we want the world to be.

In the sessions, I hope to cultivate critical care, support, listening and a sense of community. I will work hard to, along with participants, create a safe and nourishing space in which we are able to respond to the diverse experiences and evolving needs of anyone taking part in the sessions.

This course is intended for anyone who likes to write creatively. Some experience is preferable, but this doesn’t need to be in a formal context. If you have been journaling, scribbling or playing with words from the privacy of a notepad, this course is for you. Perhaps you have kept a self-care journal or body image journal, have done some journaling for mental health, writing on self-esteem, self-image and identity, are looking for new journaling prompts, have written identity poems, or created identity art and are looking to expand your practice or reflect on it. Perhaps you are an established writer who wants some time to write and reflect on personal issues, or in a safe setting, practice writing on aspects of your experience that may feel exposing, taboo or subsidiary in your professional practice.

This course is for those who struggle with (chronic) illness or disability, or who chronically struggle with body image, self-image, mental health, body dysphoria or are processing thoughts around gender and sex, identity and the body. This course is open to anyone who wants some time, community and instruction as they write about their embodied experience and experience of their body in the world. Just bring yourself and whichever writing tools you choose or need.


Each class will involve a discussion on prompts by authors and artists who showcase a particular approach or technique to writing about the body. We will then practice this technique in a series of exercises. Homework will conclude a creative writing activity, along with ongoing journaling on your evolving relationship to your own body through the process of writing. You will be invited to join an online platform for sharing and exhibiting your work with the community, and for receiving feedback on your work.

Week 1 - 9th May: Reclaiming the meaning of illness. Plotting your narrative. [Artists and authors include: Frida Kahlo, Jo Spence, Hannah Wilke, Emily Rapp Black].

Week 2 - 16th May: Reframing your desires. Choosing endings and beginnings.  [Lisa Taddeo].

Week 3 - 23rd May: Turning the lens inwards. Developing your voice. [Maria Lassing].

Week 4 - 30th May: Fracture. Unearthing hidden transformation. [Paul Preciado, Torrey Peters, Jo Spence]

Week 5 - 6th June: Taboo. Leaning into ‘gross’ [Doris Lessing, Rupi Kaur].

Week 6 - 13th June: Final reflections. Setting you up for future practice.


A critical and creative toolkit to help you write about your body in your ongoing practice. Guidance and support in finding personalised approaches to coming to terms with your body and to support an ongoing relationship of awareness and reflection. Tools like narrative perspective, voice, framing and transformation that will help you tackle difficult themes in your writing beyond the body. A stronger sense of your own narrative voice. A positive experience of sharing in an accepting and caring environment. (Hopefully) A more developed sense of curiosity and kindness towards your body.


Dr Marieke Bigg writes about bodies and culture. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge, where she studied the technological transformation of human reproduction. She now writes both non-fiction and fiction about the cultural dimensions of biology and bodies. Her debut novel, Waiting for Ted (Dead Ink Press, forthcoming October 2022) was described by her agent as Sally Rooney meets Waiting for Godot meets The Stepford Wives – so very weird. Her non-fiction debut, Misdiagnosed (Hachette, forthcoming January 2023), explores gender bias in medicine, drawing on scientific research, personal experience and cultural analysis.

In addition to her books, Marieke collaborates with scientists and biologists to discuss and produce art that conjures new social worlds. In her teaching, she is interested in working with underrepresented writers to develop new stories, by moving the body practically and thematically to the centre of their practice.

Author page - https://www.unitedagents.co.uk/marieke-bigg

Website with online articles- https://mariekelouisebigg.wixsite.com/mariekebigg

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