The Writing Spiral by Jessica Outram

Available at Let’s Talk Books in Cobourg, Ontario. Nearly sold out!

About the Book

In The Writing SpiralJessica Outram, an educator and writer, shares eight thematic spirals that explore how we can cultivate a writing life that guarantees growth and development.

This book offers a theory about how writers learn. Using the contributions from 30 emerging and experienced writers, The Writing Spiral demonstrates the way learning about creativity, courage, solitude, community, ambition, perseverance, curiosity, and love develop mastery to make an expressive, inspired writer.

A comprehensive learning program designed to call writers to action, this book utilizes research-based learning strategies, humour, metaphor, and interactive exercises to awaken the learner in you. To become a better writer, you need to become a better learner.

A diverse collection of poems, stories, memoirs, and essays take you on a journey around layers of experience, knowledge, and inquiry to awaken your writing core.

The Writing Spiral offers a new vision that encourages us to define our writing spirals: to embrace reflection and analysis, to love learning, and to courageously write our truths and share our stories.


Jessica Outram, M.A., is a principal in Northumberland, Ontario. A writing teacher and former high school English teacher, Outram is also a playwright and a publisher.

Thirty writers share poems, stories, memoirs, and essays as demonstrations of the themes. The contributors include: Lynda Allison, Kelly Babcock, Erika Bailey, Mona Blaker, Ken Bond, Helen Chenier, Heidi Croot, Phyllis Diller Stewart, Sacha Farrell, Catherine Graham, Barbara E. Hunt, Shane Joseph, Ruth Latta, Andree Levie-Warrilow, Nancy Melcher, Dee Miles, M.J. Moores, Lori Pearson, Gwynn Scheltema, David Sheffield, Felicity Sidnell Reid, Pat Skene, Lesley Strutt, Erin Thomas, Lori Twining, Christina Vasilevski, Lynn Vieira, Ruth Walker, Brenda J. Wood, and Collette Yvonne.

ISBN: 978-0-9809444-2-6

Cover art by Livia Tsang

Book design by Janet Boccone


439 pages

Published by Sunshine in a Jar Press, 2014

Praise for The Writing Spiral: Learning as a Writer

ANTANAS SILEIKA, author of Underground and former Director of Humber School for Writers:

“The Writing Spiral is an inspirational and motivational book for those involved in the practice of writing. It deals with practical matters such as how to avoid getting stuck in a writing project, how to behave in a writers’ group, and how to go about finding a safe community in which to test ideas. But it is also a philosophical book that meditates on the meaning of writing in one’s life, learning how to see, and adapting to solitude and self-awareness. This text wonders about writing, and includes pieces by other writers involved in the same experience, and I recommend it for all those who wonder about writing too and want to get even more engaged in the life of writing. It will also help spur those just starting out on this path.”

JESSICA PALMER, Teacher and Performing Artist:

“Diving into The Writing Spiral is like getting to spend time with the creative English teacher whose lesson plans you always secretly wanted to borrow, the inspired colleague you always wanted as a mentor, the wise friend who shares their rich experience, and the author whose electric work keeps you up too late at night turning the pages. Whether you are looking to begin your own writing practice, or help others along their way, The Writing Spiral is an inspiring and practical resource for writers at any level.”

NEIL BUDDEL, Ph.D, Higher Education Student Affairs Professional and Researcher, doctoral dissertation titled, Stories Matter: A Narrative Inquiry Exploring First-Generation Student Persistence:

“The Writing Spiral is about discovering a relationship with the human experience through story.

Life, according to renowned philosophers like Thomas King, David Carr, Mary Catherine Bateson, and Jean Clandinin, is narrative composition; we live storied lives and through story we teach, we learn, and we become. This is where Jessica takes us – with The Writing Spiral, Jessica has created a deeply insightful, inspirational, and raw invitation for us to explore humanity.

Writing is telling a story and Jessica’s eight spirals offer both the map and the compass for those charting out the journey or those needing a companion for the journey. Jessica beautifully and intentionally tangles and untangles the many threads of writing experiences, as she weaves in voices and echoes of other authors, to illustrate a tapestry of the writer-educator- learner. The voices harmoniously offer perspectives and examples as fuel for the journey, while honouring the heartbreaks, setbacks, and despair that are inherently human. Jessica illustrates that writing is a tumultuous and innately human experience, ultimately grounded in the love for learning and teaching as we engage in exploration of the social and temporal in particular places and spaces.”

NORA CHRISTOS, M.Ed, High School Lead Teacher, English:

“The Writing Spiral is a terrific teaching tool for creative writing teachers complete with inspiring ideas, lesson templates, rubrics, and metacognitive approaches. It was emotional, joyful, reflective, and quite simply, a pleasure to read. Ms. Outram has lovingly captured what it means to be a writer: to have passion, inspiration, and to never be afraid to dance.”

SUSAN LYNN REYNOLDS, Writer, Creative Writing Teacher, and Therapeutic Counsellor:

“In The Writing Spiral Jessica Outram uses the pattern referenced in her title to explore the ways in which writing and learning impact and affect each other.

Through a series of reflections, exercises, essays and the generous inclusion of other writers’ writing about writing, the author spirals through investigation, discovery, and delving ever more deeply into the questions this book addresses. How do we write? How are we changed by our writing? How can we direct our writing toward revelation and resolution?

An engaging and inspirational book designed to challenge each writer to follow their own spiralling line of ink into authentic discovery.”

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