SPIRIT OF STORY / unlocking your story

What’s your story?

What about your personal journey is unique?

What buried treasures do you hold inside that need to be shared?

Everyone has a story to tell. And yet, in sharing our stories, we often overlook what is particularly extraordinary about our lives. More likely, we need permission to get personal. For it is through the intensely personal that we discover what is universal.

This workshop is designed to explore the life experiences that have shaped and defined you. Through a wide variety of creative exercises, you’ll find the *spark* to unleash the stories that reflect the uniqueness of your personal journey. Each week we will uncover the various aspects of “you” through the spoken and written word with the opportunity to share works-in-progress. The small group environment cultivates a safe, dynamic space, allowing for group interaction as well as individual guidance and feedback.

Bring something you’ve been working on, an idea you wish to develop, or simply come ready and willing to explore. All levels are welcome.

Guest speakers have included: Meredith Baxter, Tabby Biddle, Kelly Carlin, Terri Cheney, Tanya Chernov, Lisa Cron, Hollye Dexter, Hope Edelman, Amy Friedman, Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, Annabelle Gurwitch, Wendy Hammers, Monica Holloway, Daniel M. Jaffe, Sandra Kobrin, Carlos Kotkin, Leslie Lehr, Deborah Lott, Regina Louise, Joe Loya, Lisa Manterfield, Lauren Marks, Greg Miller, Maureen Murdock, Jennie Nash, Laurel Ollstein, Dennis Palumbo, Shelly Peiken, Paula Priamos, Ann Randolph, Laurenne Sala, Adam Skolnick, Jennifer Gay Summers, Lea Thau, and Pat Verducci.

About the Instructor:

Karin Gutman, MFA, has been working closely with writers for over 14 years to help them uncover, develop and write their personal stories. During her tenure as co-executive producer of Spark Off Rose, the popular spoken word series in Los Angeles, she cultivated fresh, new voices and often worked with deeply personal material. A former story analyst for Creative Artists Agency and 20th Century Fox, she is a published author and has written and developed projects for Nickelodeon, the Jim Henson Company and National Geographic Kids. She has taught at Cal State Fullerton, UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and UCLA Arts and Healing, and currently offers workshops and one-on-one coaching to writers under her Spirit of Story banner.

What people are saying . . .

“I love your style of teaching, way of being, and the space you hold and the opening you create. Just so grateful for what you do. I really love how you protect and nurture writers and writing, and the wonderful way you love through your work.

You are a transformative person in my life.”

  1. -Kelli Bean-Miranda

“Oh Karin... you are a gifted teacher. First, you are the most astute listener; you are able to reach through the weeds of a cobbled-together story and pinpoint  the true intention of the writer. The questions you pose of the writer demand that she pull from her own experience and expression. There are no pointed questions where you wait for the hapless writer to arrive at the correct answer...its all gauged so gently, probing but not poking. You promote an atmosphere of respect among us for each others work and our individual processes. We all come to it differently, and there's no judging. You're kinda like a therapist you know...confirming where we are by mirroring back to us what we're saying.

And in a room full of diverse women, all ages, all levels of experience, you seem able to meet each person where they are, respectful of whatever they bring to the table. You are responsive and wise. I can feel your years of reading, studying and dissecting as you help us explore what we've written and where we want it to take us.”

- Meredith Baxter

“I took Karin's workshop more than once and each time I gained clarity and courage to tell my story. The insights and group energy were inspiring. Karin masterfully weaves a sense of play and discovery in her classes. I entered the class fearful of taking risks in my writing and left feeling empowered. I would recommend Karin's workshop to the most accomplished writer as well as a novice.”

- Jodi Harris

“Unlocking Your Story is like chocolate to me—a sweet addiction. I have been taking Karin’s workshops for almost a year now and can honestly and wholeheartedly say that I look forward to them every week.  I even told a fellow classmate that when I miss a class, I feel like I did in high school when I missed a party; I always think about what might be happening and all the great stories that I am probably missing!


Karin’s nurturing spirit cultivates an environment where all different types of writers can blossom. She helps us to believe that we are all writers. We all have a story to tell and Karin creates a safe space to open up and share them. For someone like me, a person that puts their writing on the back burner, this class is a great motivator to get the ink flowing both in and out of class. Take it from me, an Unlocking Your Story veteran, once you get a taste of this workshop you will become an addict too!”

- Jill Iger

“Thank you for empowering me to speak my truth. You have changed my life for the better. I am lucky to share this journey with you!!”

- Heather McGonigal

“In her Unlocking Your Story workshop, Karin creates a fertile environment for writing. I came to the workshop knowing that I had a story to tell, but with a lot of resistance to the act of writing. Karin guides writers gently and intuitively. She uses writing prompts to help you pop open ideas you didn’t know were there. It was so exciting when my writing really started to flow! I would take Karin’s workshop over and over again.”

- Ranjani Brow

“I think I'm becoming aware of some of my own process in terms of writing. I'm getting some sense of what it takes to  allow myself to unlock my story and how to keep some pressure on so that I will write it. I can feel both shame and guilt because it's a dark story and I can easily convince myself to keep it a secret so that no one has to be brought down by the heaviness of it. 

I find that the prompts defy that tendency; they take me to it and I appreciate them for that reason. Add to that, knowing that someone will hear it or read it gives me the very incentive that I need to write it. I write to bear witness to my own experience and in sharing it with others (despite the shame and guilt), they are bearing it with me. The healing comes from that.

Your class is definitely stirring my pot and I find that so rewarding. Thank you!

- Molly Jordan

“I love Unlocking Your Story! Karin creates a fun atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie and her endless bucket of writing prompts can unearth ideas you didn't know existed. And best of all, she pushes students to go deeper with their stories. For someone who leans toward the funny (surface) side of things, digging deep emotionally isn't always my favorite part of writing. But Karin knows how to dig gently helping you find your truth while still maintaining your voice. With UYS, consider yourself unlocked and closer to a better story - and a more fruitful writing practice!”

- Amy Pengra

“I highly recommend Unlocking Your Story to anyone who has an interest in writing about her life. I had always enjoyed telling my own story, but it was with Karin’s expert and intuitive guidance that I achieved a breakthrough from journal or anecdotal-style writing to stand-alone essay work that delights and intrigues the reader. In an intimate setting, Karin creates a community where the writer feels safe revealing more and more of her authentic self. With her wonderful objective approach, she is often saying, “I want to know more about this...” This is very encouraging for a writer! I went from Unlocking Your Story to one-on-one coaching. If you have any doubt about whether to work with Karin, go see Spark Off Rose, the monthly storytelling event she produces. When you hear the honest, heartfelt and entertaining stories revealed on that stage, you will want to be a part of it.”

- Nicole Stewart

"Empowering! Karin takes you by the hand and helps you express your voice in ways you didn't think were possible. She creates a safe environment where you can come out of your shell and claim your voice."

- Victoria Lynn Schmidt,  author of Book in a Month

“Going into Karin’s workshop, I had no idea what to expect. I was out of practice with my writing and nervous about my ability to produce anything worthy of putting on paper, let alone share with a room full of strangers. Any nervous energy I had was quickly replaced with a sense of comfort and calm. Attending the workshop was like opening a door into a safe hideaway where I could let my thoughts and words run free.  Karin created an environment where I could get organized and focus on ideas.  Any struggle I felt was aided along not only by Karin and her numerous writing exercises and prompts, but also by my fellow comrades in the room. Having their eyes and ears to ask questions not only helped me clarify the message I was trying to get across, but also forced me to dig deeper and peel back the layers of meaning and story. Karin’s knowledge and love of writing is infectious. She’s a true word whisperer.”     

- Cristina Wildzumas

“I have enjoyed both of the Unlocking Your Story workshops I attended. Having no formal writing experience, the exercises really helped me tap into my natural creativity and put my authentic self on the page. Sharing with the group eased my anxiety and self-criticism. I highly recommend these workshops whether your interest is personal or professional and I look forward to attending more of them in the future.”

- Janice Neuner

“I'm really looking forward to another class... and another and another after that. Something in me is being ‘faced’ by the very act of writing whatever it is that comes out. So thank you!”

  1. -Molly Jordan

What you're offering is really magical and unique. I love your feedback and I love feedback in general that challenges me out of my comfort zone, uncomfortable as that may be. The group really opened me up to realizing what 'my' story is, or at least, what the story is I want to tell.  And it also helped me get confident and comfortable with my voice.

The more I write and open myself to creativity, the more creative I feel.”

- Suzanne Ely

“Karin Gutman’s writing class is really exciting. Each week in class Karin would introduce a different writing idea to stimulate our memories. Her writing prompts included things like pictures, words, sounds, even smells! Then, we were given time to write freely on whatever memory or memories was triggered. We never had to read out loud to the group unless we wanted to. The last hour of each session was reserved for anyone in the group who wanted to workshop a longer piece they’d been working on at home. Karin’s original way for the group to give the writer feedback made it a fun process for everyone in the class. I highly recommend Karin’s class to anyone, whether you think of yourself as a writer or not. The writing exercises are so much fun, anyone can do them and learn a little bit about themselves in the process!”

  1. -Lawrie Chiaro

“I really love these evenings. It clears my head from the day and fills it with creative thought. I especially appreciate your beautiful and thoughtful style of direction and encouragement of the class!”

- Randy Levitz





Discover and write

your personal story

Fall Workshops

Woodland Hills

Sept 26 - Dec 5

10 Tuesdays, 10am-1pm

Fee: $775

Santa Monica

Sept 29 - Dec 8

10 Fridays, 10am-1pm


Limited to 12 students

No meeting Thanksgiving week

Both workshops are hosted at private residences; the address will be provided upon registration


E-mail Karin

Or call (323) 363-1600

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