What's Your Story? Workshop for Stanford Medical Students

Stanford Medicine and the Muse Program

with generous support from the Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson Funds and The Marmor Foundation.

11:00 AM October 1- 11:00am October 2, 2016

Soul Food Farm
6046 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville CA 95688
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Everyone has a story. Or ten. Do you know what yours are?

Now more than ever, there are opportunities for physicians and physicians-in-training to make their voices heard--whether that's live onstage, creating a stories for popular podcasts, writing an opinion piece for a major national newspaper, giving a TED talk, publishing an article, writing a novel or sharing a work of creative nonfiction. At Medicine & The Muse Storytelling Workshop participants will get an intensive in the art and craft of storytelling for a variety of media--from radio to short story, creative nonfiction to live storytelling. NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors and a few surprise guests at the top of their fields will help you find your voice, learn how to use it, and share the stories that matter most.


  • tips and tricks for being your most creative self and capturing your best ideas
  • how to identify the elements of incredible stories and their structure
  • the difference between a story and merely an interesting topic
  • how different media are better suited to different sorts of stories and why it matters
  • what agents, editors and producers are looking for and how to pitch your ideas


Plan to arrive by 11am on Saturday the 1st. We will set up our tents in the olive orchard and then head out for a picnic lunch on a nearby lake. Make sure you are wearing good walking shoes and that you fill up your water bottle at the farm. We will spend the rest of the afternoon in both big and small working groups, until we break for dinner. Alexis, the owner/founder of Soul Food Farm will be cooking for us, using last-of-the-season produce from their gardens. 

After dinner there will be campfires, more stories, s'mores and impromptu music making--so bring your instruments and your voices. 

Sunday morning breakfast (coffee, tea, local pastries, honey from the farm, yogurt, granola) will be served in the garden and we will have one last storytelling session following the meal.

The workshop will be over by 11am on Sunday but feel free to stay at the farm and hang out with animals or in the gardens until 3pm. 


NOTE: The workshop is currently full. But please use the RSVP form to sign up for the waiting list!




We will be camping in the olive orchards at Soul Food Farm. There is a lovely bathroom with hot water and an outdoor shower so you can shower under the stars. We will provide tents, but let us know if you prefer to use your own. We will be outside for most of the workshop so make sure to dress accordingly. And if you need help getting your hands on anything on the below list, let us know.


  • Notebook and pen/pencils AND/OR your laptop to write on. Note: there will not be an opportunity to charge your devices, so come fully charged and if your battery dies, be ready to write on actual paper.
  • Sleeping bag/sleeping pad (available for rent from the Stanford Outdoor Center)
  • Headlamp
  • Comfortable shoes to walk in outdoors over rough terrain
  • Warm layers because it can get cool at night
  • Warm hat and socks
  • Water bottle
  • Towel
  • Musical instruments if you play them. Because, campfire!
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunhat
  • Dark glasses

NOt necessary but nice to have

  • Crazy Creek or other form of camp chair
  • Picnic blanket (or extra towel or old sheet you can put on the ground to sit or lay on)
  • Insulated mug for hot beverages





How to Get There

Soul Food Farm is located at:
6046 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville CA 95688
View Map

The farm is a roughly 1.5 hour drive from Stanford. There will be options to carpool with others. Please let us know if you want help coordinating a ride or if you have extra room in your car for others! See RSVP page to let us know.


About Your Teachers

Medicine and the Muse Storytelling Camp at Soul Food Farm is an opportunity for you to hang out with some of the top science and medicine communicators working today. Workshop leaders have been selected for their know-how and experience but also their generosity, kindness and interest in supporting student work.

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Laurel braitman, Workshop co-leader & Instructor

Laurel Braitman PhD is a New York Times bestselling author, the Writer-in-Residence at Medicine & the Muse at the Stanford School of Medicine, and a Contributing Writer for Pop Up Magazine.  Her latest TED talk has been watched by over a million people and she regularly speaks to packed audiences around the world about issues relating science, medicine and health. She received her PhD in History, Anthropology and Science, Technology & Society from MIT and is a Senior TED Fellow. Her last book,Animal Madness (Simon & Schuster 2015) was a NYT bestseller, a science pick of the year everywhere from Amazon to Science Friday and has been translated into seven languages. Her work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Good Morning America, and Al Jazeera. Her writing has appeared The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Wired and other publications. She's taught popular interdisciplinary courses at Harvard, MIT Smith College and elsewhere and is passionate about collaborating with musicians, physicians, filmmakers, artists and scientists. Laurel's next book (Simon & Schuster, forthcoming) is about medicine, family and how we die. She lives in Richmond CA with her dog Cedar, a fruit-bat/Akita mix who's not at all impressed by her work.


ruth marks, workshop co-leader

Ruth Marks is a second year medical student at Stanford University Medical School. Lifelong actor and performer, she graduated from Stanford with double majors in French and Human Biology and a minor in Theater and Performance Studies. She is an editor of online medical humanities journal, The Intima. Prior to medical school, she spent two years as a Course Associate in the Human Biology Program at Stanford. During her first year of medical school, she attended ethics consultation meetings at Stanford Hospital where she saw how central narrative is to health care delivery. The stories she heard in these meetings prompted her first foray into creative writing. She took humanities and storytelling courses with Audrey Shafer, Jonah Willihnganz, and Fred Luskin and created opportunities for fellow medical students to share their stories. Avid hiker, cook, and dialect enthusiast, she is interested in exploring how narrative shapes the practice and study of medicine. 

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Special guest star

Are you interested in writing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or children's literature? How about running a magazine or your own publishing empire one day? Want to learn from an expert what it takes to get your story into the world?

Jordan Bass is the executive editor of McSweeney's Publishing, where he's helped to edit and design dozens of books, both fiction and nonfiction, since 2004.  He can answer your questions about writing, editing, and pretty much anything else related to the writing/publishing life. Also, he's very funny. He never would have written that himself.



Want to get some quality time around the campfire with one of the most successful writers of science and medicine working today? Who also happens to be really, really nice?

Rebecca Skloot is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, translated into more than 25 languages and recipient of dozens of national awards. She has been featured on numerous television shows, including CBS Sunday Morning, The Colbert Report, Fox Business News and othersHer award winning science writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. This summer The Immortal Life is being made into an HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey as Deborah Lacks.

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to get a story on a major radio show or podcast? Or what it means be an excellent interview subject or interviewee? Have you considered dropping out of medical school (Shhh....) and becoming a journalist? 

Annie Brown is a reporter and radio producer. She's made stories for California Sunday Magazine, the 99% Invisible, Al Jazeera's AJ+ and others. She produces an audio series called Phone Stories the from Pop Up Magazine and produced KQED's first podcast, The Leap. Annie was once a medical student just like you, with a dream of making a radio documentary. She took time off, fell in love with journalism and never went back.



in case you're wondering about anything else...

Feel free to email Laurel Braitman lbrait@stanford.edu with any questions, big or little, that you have about the workshop.