Sometimes all it takes is a hunch coupled with a good bit of work to create something successful. That is certainly the case for former local journalist Stephanie Dale who has been working with people in rural and remote Australia encouraging them to write.
‘A tremendous number of people long to write. And just about everyone needs support, encouragement and guidance to start,’ said Stephanie.
‘Five years ago I was a middle-aged woman in a dying industry – journalism – and I needed work, so I decided to take my skills west and see if people in isolated areas wanted a hand with writing and communications. It turns out they do!’
Stephanie started The Write Road initiative four-and-a-half years ago and runs workshops that range from two hours to three-day events.
The project has encouraged farmers, health professionals, bartenders, police, youth, stock workers and others in rural and remote communities to explore their stories.
‘The big surprise for me was stumbling into the field of “writing for wellbeing”,’ Stephanie explained.
‘A community leader in the Far West asked me if I could run a journaling workshop. I thought “really?” and said “yes”.
‘We take an available resource (literacy) and accessible tools (pen and paper) to build resilience and promote good health during stressful times.
‘Just about everyone wants to write – a story, a novel, family and community histories, letters – and just about everyone needs guidance, encouragement and support to start.
‘Even though I help people get started on their books or other writing projects, “writing for wellbeing” is the foundation stone of my work. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that writing is good for us – mentally, emotionally and even physically,’ said Stephanie.
In recognition of its success The Write Road project has been named one of three finalists in the NSW Regional Achievement & Community Awards for the connecting communities section.
‘This is recognition for all those brave new writers in the west who found the courage to begin their books,’ said Stephanie.
‘It is incredibly gratifying and it’s a recognition for writing as medicine.’