Gertrude’s Writing Room

Please visit Gertrude’s Writing Room – for updated information on my small business.

VANESSA IS ON SABBATICAL IN 2023 and is not for hire at this time.


“Thank you, Sho Art, Spirit & Performance, and Ruth Ann Wilhelm for presenting author Vanessa Shields last night. The insights she offered on journal writing were awesome, as was her scope of knowledge on the subject. Her session could well have been called ‘Journal Writing on Steroids’. Vanessa also shared valuable information on what it means to be a writer, and on the inherent successes and disappointments. She is also unique in that she has the courage to share everything, even the most personal aspects of writing. As a mentor for beginning and emerging writers Vanessa is unparalleled in our writing community. In the past she has posted the experiences of her personal writing retreats, one at a Windsor location, and one on Pelee Island. She regularly posts reasonable venues that accept submissions. Her workshops at local libraries have helped beginning writers get started, and wherever she presents her sessions, people come away with a feeling of ‘yes, I too can be a writer’.” Jessie Lee Jennings, writer, attendee at ‘The Art of Journal Writing’ workshop


I am available to speak to groups, students, writer’s groups, clubs or any group of folks you think would like to learn about writing, the writing life, being a mother and writer, and/or living the dream. I’ve been a mentor to various writers as well as an editor and general creative writing support guru.

Things I’ve learned over the years of doing this work:
  • meeting for more than one hour at a time is a lot – energetically and emotionally and time-wise, unless we are both in agreement about meeting for longer, my suggestion is a 1-hour meeting (or less).
  • life is fluid – if we commit to a time but something comes up, so long as we communicate to each other by the night before, I’m fine with rescheduling. 
  • face-to-face interaction is very helpful in establishing an honest, compassionate, dedicated relationship.
  • I have worked with writers on different projects – I am open to your ideas and creating the best creative interactions that we can in order help you finish your project. 
Idea Coaching & Writing Guidance
Do you have a writing project you’d like to start? Or one that you’ve started but you’re stuck in moving forward? What will giving this precedence in your look like in your life? Idea Coaching & Writing Guidance includes (but is not limited to): idea generation, time/schedule management, creative writing prompts, creative writing lessons, reading lists, information about publishing industry (traditional and self), general interaction between you and I to create the writing project you want to write. 
  • Free 1-hour first meeting – includes open conversation about writing idea/project and then time for the writer to decide to continue
  • Meetings – up to 4/month (once a week) for up to 1 hour per visit – For the visit $25-75 (depending on what the project entails – ex. if there is no ‘prep’ so pre-meeting work, the fee to meet for the hour is less. Prep time will cause the price to go up.) 
  • Location to be jointly decided (come January 2018 I should have a fancy writing place to meet at! Otherwise, meeting at my house is fine or a library…whatever we decide!)
Do you have a writing project that has begun or is completed in a draft but you need outside eyes and editorial support? Editorial support includes: chapter-by-chapter/page-by-page edits for structure, language, dialogue, some grammar, some copy (for full grammar/copy edits I would suggest another editor I know), character development, genre-specific information, etc.. This type of editing is hands-on, thorough and can include 1-2 drafts before final version is ready for final copy edit.
  • Free 1-hour first meeting – includes open conversation about writing idea/project and then time for the writer to decide to continue
  • Meetings – up to 4/month (once a week) for up to 1 hour per visit – $60-75/hour 
Full read-through of manuscript for general to specific comments.
  • $15/hour OR a per-page fee – negotiable depending on type of beta-read
This is deepest and most interactive engagement we can create together! 
  • Free 1-hour first meeting – includes open conversation about writing idea/project and then time for the writer to decide to continue
  • Includes: Idea coaching, writing guidance, editing – whatever it takes to inspire, challenge, and create a life that includes creative writing everyday – as well as to create, work on, and complete a writing project. 
  • Meetings – up to 4/month (once a week) for up to 1 hour per visit – $60-75/hour and/or on-line interaction and/or a combination of both. Prices vary. 
On-line Options
It’s possible to interact via email. My preference is to meet face-to-face, but we can also do a combination of face-to-face and email interaction. Again, whatever works best for you and your process.
Payment Options
– cash
– cheque
– e-transfer
  • Guest Speaking – in the classroom!

Here’s a note from a student that speaks to her experience with me visiting her class:

My name is Rachel, and I’m from Walkerville High School. I was in both of the presentations that you did today.I just wanted to say that I absolutely adore your work. I love the aspect of your poems that are so raw and relatable. The way you work the most ordinary human moments into incredibly engaging pieces of work astonishes me. I am so inspired by you, and I am so thankful that you came today. Please, continue doing what you do. You are brilliant. Thank you for sharing your gift today. It was a moment of “awe” that I will never forget. 

Please make contact via email and we’ll get the conversation started. We’ll get those dreams of yours out of the pipes and onto the page, okay?


I am not currently teaching any classes, however, some classes are available on-line. Please contact me if you’re interested in enrolling, and stay connected for when I do offer classes. Thanks!

  • The Writer’s Process 8 wk creative writing class Let  Your Process Begin!Bring your inner writer to the page in this creative writing course that will culminate with your making writing an everyday part of your life. Do you have a writing space? What do your inner critics think? As you focus on your inner and outer creative space, you will define what it means to make writing an integral part of your life, and consciously choose to make writing any every day occurrence.*On-line class available
  • The Odyssey Project 8 week creative writing classBegin Your Journey!Do you have a creative writing project or idea that you just can’t find the time to start or complete? Challenge yourself to go on a creative writing adventure and get the writing done! Choose a creative writing project that you want to complete: write it, workshop it, and edit it in this class. In-class workshops include: idea birthing, how to give and receive creative and constructive criticism, grammar and style management and editing. Are you ready to begin your creative writing odyssey?*On-line class available.
  • Memoir Part I – Unfolding Your Story 8 wk creative writing classUnfold Your Story!You are unique and so is your life experience. In this eight-week creative writing course, Memoir Part I – Unfolding Your Story, learn what a memoir is and how to reach into your own life-story and unfold it onto the page. You will learn format and style as well as how to bring your unique life experiences from your memory to the safe space on the page. Who you are is worth writing about.*On-line class available.


I am so grateful for the work we did in the Memoir workshop! It has helped me tremendously to understand memoirs and to formulate ideas on how I might shape my own. I have been able to work through an amazing amount of it so far, both technical and emotional) which clears the way for the core writing part. Thanks for your loving support, and for all you do!
 :0) Karen
Taking part in the class Memoir Part 1 – Unfolding Your Story really taught me a lot about how to bring forth those memories that have been put away for so long. Vanessa created an atmosphere filled with trust, compassion, honesty and support. I have never been in a class before where after the very first class I felt incredibly comfortable and close to all of my classmates. It was easy to come to class each week and express whatever it was that we were feeling or whatever it was that we discovered since we last left the class. The support and encouragement from each other really helped me to continue on during a moments of weakness. I look forward to discovering what is in store for Part 2.
Memoir Part 1 was unlike any writing class I’ve experienced. The most unique thing was the feeling of safety and acceptance. Vanessa worked hard to create an environment where everyone’s needs were met and protected and valued. Not to mention that the activities were fun and the people were wonderful! I highly recommend this class. :)
  • Memoir Part II – Writing Your Story – Workshop Seminar 8 wk workshop seminarWorkshop Your Story!Utilize the ideas you’ve gathered from Memoir Part 1 – Unfolding Your Story and begin writing your memoir. Over 8 weekly classes, your writing will be workshopped by writers in the class as well as by published writers in the field. You will submit writing every week that will be workshopped as well as workshop other’s writing. This is a safe, honest, compassionate space for constructive criticism that will move your story forward each week. If you have not taken Memoir Part 1 – Unfolding Your Story, but you have memoir ideas gathered that you’d like to have workshopped, please, join us! Memoir Part II – Writing Your Story – Workshop Seminar 1 is a sacred place to bring your memoir alive on the page.


I love the power of the writing workshop! Here are a few of the workshops I offer, but I can create a workshop based on what you’re needing/hoping for as well!

  • TOPIC: The Art of Journal Writing

Workshop length: 2hours

In this two-hour session, author, poet and avid journal writer Vanessa Shields will guide you through different types of writing in a journal. From stream-of-consciousness writing to writing in response to spiritual practice (meditation/painting/dancing/etc.) to writing for release and emotional, therapeutic healing – the power of journal writing reaches into the deep crevices of our creative souls. The practice of doing something everyday can be life-changing – the practice of writing in a journal every day, however, is a guaranteed life-changing endeavour. Explore the benefits of writing in a journal and its relationship to writing as something we already do for work and play, and how a next-step of self-expression can be lifting your words off the page for others to read and relate to. Of course, choosing a journal and a writing utensil is always part of the amazing experience – we’ll talk about that too!

  • TOPIC: Nature Poetry – An Outdoor Experience

Workshop Length: 2-4hrs

Discover poetry in nature! Tour Ojibway park or any outdoor location, and read and write poetry with writing prompts from master poets and nature at hand. Discussions include how to pay attention to what nature has to say to your poet’s heart and soul, listening to nature, and how nature poetry from the past can inspire and infuse your poetry.

  • TOPIC: The Writer’s Process 

Workshop Length: 4 hours (day)

A condensed, intense one-day workshop based on the 8-week class The Writer’s Process. Delve into your writing soul and find out what motivates your creative writing, commit to writing every day, and learn how to inspire, trust and develop the creative writer in you. For writers of all ages and abilities!

  • TOPIC: Empowering the Critic To Empower the Creator

Workshop Length: 2 hrs

Being empowered to create freely means recognizing our inner critics so we can learn to conquer them. Using writing tools and exercises to recognize our inner critics, participants will have the opportunity to have a conversation with their creative blockages – and start a new conversation that includes a positive inner voices that support a motivational creative process. As well, participants will have the opportunity to look at their life and creative process based on knowing their inner critics. In freeing their creative spirit from the grip of the inner critics there is only room for empowered creativity. All participants welcome because every woman is a creative writer whether she identifies herself as one or not!

  • TOPIC: Letter-writing

Workshop length: 2.5 hours

Let’s put the pen to the paper and write a letter or two! This two-and-a-half hour writing workshop will give a brief history of letter-writing followed by time to write those letters you’ve been meaning to write. Whether it be a thank you note, a life catch-up letter or words of love that need to written – write it in this workshop! Please bring your own stationary and postage!

  • TOPIC: Timed Writing – Various Topics            

Workshop length: 2.5 hours

This two-and-a-half hour writing workshop is for those who just want to write! Writers will be given themes to write about in specifically allotted amounts of time. You’re guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing in this get down and dirty writing workshop!