JM Buckler Programs
JM Buckler offers programs to diverse groups of all ages, ranging from 50-minute presentations to day-long workshops, customized for the needs and interests of each audience. Programs include a combination of storytelling and information sharing, large and small group discussions, and innovative writing exercises. Contact JM Buckler, to find out more information or to book a program.
The Transformative Power of Storytelling
For millennia, storytelling has been medicine for the soul. From simple folk tales to elaborate theatrical productions, storytelling has offered distance from the particulars of a given situation, while providing insight and guidance on how to deal with the inevitable drama that surfaces in life. It also has connected and comforted individuals, making it clear that we are all part of the greater circle of humanity – through our shared experience of everything from hope, ecstasy, and contentment, to despair, terror, and rage. Writing our own stories provides the added benefit of a creative, safe, and positive outlet for the more intense emotions we may experience. In this way, storytelling is tantamount to free therapy – allowing us to work through real-life problems, by developing characters that act out own unique dramas. Once we create our characters, they inevitably take on lives of their own, providing third-party perspectives that enable us to see and work through our situations clearly, without emotional attachment and confusion.
Added bonus: In our own stories, we can be whomever we want to be, and we can act out whatever fantasies we choose, no matter how extreme. If we are feeling unloved, we can create our own character as being in a deeply intimate relationship that is nourishing, supportive, and healing. If we are fed up with everything and everyone, and we find ourselves entertaining fantasies of going off a shooting spree, we can write about doing it, instead of acting on it – releasing pent-up rage, without hurting anyone. Ultimately, storytelling is a magical portal that is available to us 24/7 – transporting and transforming us, facilitating self-discovery and personal growth. In this program, JM Buckler shares her own relationship to storytelling, revealing how it radically transformed her life and her work, then invites participants to develop their own relationship to it – among other exercises, recalling one of the most challenging situations they have dealt with in life, and rewriting how that story unfolds.
If Break Dancing Reduced Gang Violence, Can Writing Reduce Gun Violence?
In the 1970s in New York City, break dancing emerged as an alternative to gang violence – ultimately leading to the explosive birth of hip hop culture nationwide. The rate of murder decreased significantly, as gangs challenged each other to dance competitions instead of fights. Similarly, in the 1960s in New Orleans, Native American gangs put down their guns and picked up their beads – challenging each other to competitions for the best costumes and masks, which they spent months designing and sewing, for display in the annual Marti Gras parade.
The arts are often the first to be cut when school budgets are tight. And yet, the arts provide constructive channels for the gamut of emotions, including rage. What if students were actively encouraged to express themselves through writing, drama, music, dance, and other artistic forms? Might we begin to see a reduction in school shootings and other forms of violence?
In this signature program for high school students, JM Buckler facilitates group discussions and individual writing exercises addressing the perils of gun violence. She starts off by asking students to share their thoughts about the causes and solutions of gun violence, as well as to share their feelings associated with going to school in a world where gun violence is a real threat. She then asks students to bring to mind an experience that made them feel violent rage and to write a fantasy story in which they have permission to indulge on paper whatever they imagined wanting to do in response to that experience. After processing this experience through group discussion, students are invited to use their imagination to write out a story about how gun violence is successfully stopped at schools nationwide.
Give it the Finger and Find Your Bliss
From the day we are born, we are encouraged to follow a standard script and discouraged from veering off course. Social creatures by nature, many of us find the stakes unbearably high for going against the grain: We risk social approval, family support, financial stability, and community belonging – leading many of us to live our lives in “quiet desperation,” seemingly happy and fulfilled on the outside, but feeling hollow and lacking meaning or purpose on the inside. We may ache to step into our authentic beings, but feel confused about who that being is exactly, or how to go about manifesting her/him. We may fear setting out on a new path because we don’t know where exactly our foot will land when we take that first step, and we want assurance that everything will be OK.
JM Buckler kicks off this program by sharing her own transformational journey – from bowing to fear and conforming to social norms, to not giving a f*** and going on to create her own vibrant reality. Next, facilitating group conversations and writing exercises, Buckler engages participants in thoughtful consideration of exactly what is at stake in their own lives, both when they conform and when they do not. Drawing from these real-life examples, Buckler offers concrete tools for saying yes to oneself and finding the courage to risk losing an ordinary life, so as to create an extraordinary one. She concludes the program with a writing exercise where participants imagine what a fearless life would look like for them, and they commit to taking three baby steps toward creating that life.
The Indie Author’s Guide
Through interactive discussions and creative writing exercises, JM Buckler helps new authors realistically assess the life and work of an indie author, then figure out how to make it all happen. Topics include how to develop thick skin in response to critics, while remaining open to useful feedback; how to cultivate a both/and approach to indie and traditional publishing, instead of an either/or mindset; how to focus on writing a book, even while plagued by anxiety about the uncertainty and hard work that lie ahead; how to set one’s intention, establish one’s purpose, and find one’s audience; how to cultivate work-life balance; and how to identify and outsource the work that someone else may be far more qualified to do. Buckler additionally provides in-depth guidance through logistical and technical matters related to the many aspects of writing, editing, and marketing. At the end of this program, participants walk away with a clear vision, tools, and a strategic action plan for launching a career as an indie author.
It’s Not Writer’s Block
While we may think it’s about our plot or our characters, it’s actually about our internal state of being – which may have stopped the flow because of overwhelming fear, unresolved emotions about a certain issue, lack of alignment between our heart and our actions, and so on. Through interactive discussion and contemplative writing exercises, JM Buckler helps participants discover the root cause of their “writer’s block,” as well as develop customized solutions for disintegrating the block. At the end of the program, participants have a customized “toolbox” available for use, 24/7, to assess and work through a block, then get back in the flow.
Letters from students about programs: