April 10, 2013

Building group morale: Author offers therapeutic writing class

Bill Manville, novelist and author of “Cool, Hip & Sober: 88 Ways to Beat Booze
and Drugs,” is bringing his well-received online writing classes into the therapeutic
atmosphere to enhance the treatment of people seeking help for addictions.

“I’ve been teaching 'Writing to Get Published' online for the past four years,” said
Manville, an ex-New Yorker now living in California, who has been in recovery for the
past 30 years.

“Starting at Temple University, I now teach privately on a weekly, open-end basis. ‘Until
presumably,’ as one student put it, 'we all get published or die,'” he added with a laugh.

In his writing and teaching career, Manville has learned that one of the reasons many
people quit writing is loneliness.

“By joining a class like mine which includes members in daily online communication
with each other, that isolation ends,” said Manville. “Students act like a hometown crowd at a
football game, cheering each other on. And if you don't think that's important, why do
Las Vegas bookies figure in 'home field chemistry' when setting the odds?”

A key goal in developing his classes is to create a digital community for his students, he
said. By letting classmates get to know one another through the frank honesty of their
work and the quality of their feedback, literary affinities and friendships develop.

“An intimate support group is born, strengthening over the years,” he said. “Group
morale is at the heart of my classes, and isn’t that the main engine in recovery, too?”

Manville said that by bringing writing into rehab, he can foster group cohesion.

“Clients can choose to write a memoir, maybe an explanation of their addiction both
to self and family, or even begin a novel,” said Manville, who is a Book of the Month
novelist and former Contributing Editor for Helen Brown at Cosmopolitan magazine.

“Whatever,” he continued. “The therapeutic result is that everyone is in touch with
everyone in a continuing, supportive network.”

His course is taught during clients' stays in treatment, and participants are encouraged
to electronically keep in touch with him, each other and of course, their treatment center
long after they’ve left.

Manville was in treatment himself 30-years-ago at Caron (then called, “Chit Chat”), in
Wernersville. Pa., and was a volunteer facilitator at Scripps in San Diego for three years.

“I am not merely some professor,” he said. “I'm in recovery, too.”

To learn more email Bill Manville at [email protected]

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