I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories... water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.
— Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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 start tapping into what's universal.

This signature workshop is designed to explore the life experiences that have shaped and defined you. Through a wide variety of creative prompts and practical techniques, you'll unleash the stories that reflect the uniqueness of your personal journey. The small group environment creates 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 willing to explore. All levels welcome.

See the Guest Artists who have visited the workshop.


Winter 2020 Workshops:

Sherman Oaks
January 21 - March 31

10 Tuesdays, 10am-1pm
Hosted at a private residence *
(no meeting Feb. 11th)

Santa Monica
January 23 - April 2
10 Thursdays, 10am-1pm
Hosted at a private residence *
(no meeting Feb 13th)

Fee: $850

To register for a workshop Contact Karin

Workshops are limited to 12 students. See the previous visiting guest authors.

* Address will be provided upon registration

Upcoming Workshops:

To be notified about the upcoming session dates, join the Spirit of Story mailing list:


About the Instructor:


Karin Gutman, MFA, is a memoir and story coach who has been guiding writers for over 15 years towards discovering and writing their life-based stories. The safe, dynamic spaces she creates allow for this deeply personal work to unfold, as writers peel away the layers, dig deep, and make meaning out of their life experiences. Her clients have sold books to major publishers, including HarperCollins, Hay House and St. Martin’s Press. 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, retreats and one-on-one coaching under her Spirit of Story banner.


Questions you may be asking...


Who is this workshop for?

This creative space is for anyone who is interested in exploring their personal, life-based experiences on the page.

Is it okay if I'm new to writing?

Yes! This workshop holds space for all kinds of writers, with various levels of experience and at different stages in their creative work. I am interested in meeting each writer where he or she is in the creative process in support of moving the work forward.

What if I'm working on a full-length memoir? Is this right workshop for me?

Many writers have written their full-length works in the workshops -- not in one 10-week session, but over time. You will have the opportunity to share excerpts and receive feedback. That being said, it's important to understand the limitations of the workshop. It is not a place where you'll get guidance on the overall story arc and structure; this kind of work is better done one-on-one.

What is the format of the workshop?

Each meeting is a mix between free-writing in class and presenting written material for group feedback. There is a schedule so you know when you'll be presenting work.

What if I feel afraid or nervous?

That's normal! That says to me that you're ready to dive in, and that's risky. I will say, the one consistent thing I hear time and again is how 'safe' the space is. It is deeply important to me to create an environment where people can peel away the layers and dig deeply into their stories. The space we hold for each other supports this kind of work.

I'm not sure if I want to write fiction or memoir. Can I do both in the workshop?

This workshop is devoted to personal narrative. I have found that it's important that everyone in the group share the collective intention to discover the underlying truth of our real-life experiences.


Kind words...


“When I first joined your writing workshop I was scared to death to share our very unconventional story with complete strangers. It was feedback from you and the workshop participants that gave me the courage to write a book about our experiences. This was my first time writing since college and the drudgery of putting 1,500 words on paper often took me weeks in the beginning. As I found my voice as a writer, the words began to flow and I can honestly say that I now enjoy the writing process. I've realized that the joy lies in the creative process, not in the accomplishment of finishing a book.

The workshop taught me that the nuggets in our writing come when we bare our souls...

The workshop provided a safe environment where I could stumble and fall without getting hurt. My first attempts at writing felt much like a toddler learning to walk. I started with baby steps and before I knew it I was skipping. The workshop taught me that the nuggets in our writing come when we bare our souls. Never before in my life had I been in a room with people who were so transparent, authentic, and open. It taught me that being true to yourself and your story is more important than worrying about what other people will think.”

Cathy Byrd, author of The Boy Who Knew Too Much

... it provided a safe environment where I could stumble and fall without getting hurt.

... guides writers gently and intuitively... 

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 am always drawn to the group of people you are able to put together. You have a very calm sense and huge understanding that sometimes a prompt can take you a completely different direction and that there never is anything ‘wrong’ in your response. You also have a impeccable sense when it comes to 'listening' what is being read. It could be that you find thing in between the lines or pinpointing exactly a feeling or emotion to an overall situation described in a piece. I love your feedback and am often amazed how ‘on target’ your observations and questions are when I share my work.”

Malona Badelt

... amazed how 'on target' your observations and questions are...

... Something in me is being ‘faced’ by the very act of writing...

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

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

What you're offering is really magical and unique...

Thank you for empowering me to speak my truth.

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

Heather McGonigal