Counseling & Support: FAQs for Patient Participants

1. What is Visible Ink?

Visible Ink offers patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering the opportunity to express themselves in writing with the one-on-one support of a volunteer writing mentor. The program is free of charge and open to all interested patients, regardless of writing level or experience.

2. Who is eligible to be a Visible Ink participant?

Any past or current patient of MSK can participate, whether you are in active treatment or not. This includes people treated at any of our facilities as an inpatient or outpatient.

3. How do I sign up?

For more information or to sign up, contact team leader Judith Kelman at judith.kelman@gmail.com, kelmanj@mskcc.org, or 212-535-3985.

You can also contact Visible Ink administrator Gabriella Brand at brandg@mskcc.org or 212-639-8624.

4. What kind of writing can I do in Visible Ink?

Participants can work on any expressive writing: personal journals, fiction or nonfiction, poetry, memoirs, essays, letters, blogs, screen- or playwriting, etc.

5. Are there restrictions on the type of writing I can do in Visible Ink?

Visible Ink does not support commercial projects such as grants, advertising, corporate reports, or business plans.  

6. Can Visible Ink help me publish my work?

Visible Ink focuses on writing, not publishing. If your goal is publication, honing your writing skills and producing the best possible work is critical.

7. Does the program offer opportunities for my work to reach a broader audience?

Yes. Each year, Visible Ink produces an anthology of works by participants and selects a limited number of short pieces to be performed by professionals at a staged reading. All Visible Ink participants are invited — though not required — to submit pieces for the anthology and staged reading. A selection committee determines which pieces will be published and/or staged. 

8. What happens to writing I do in the program?

Participants retain all rights to their work. Your writing will not be disseminated in any form without your prior written consent.  We ask that a copy of all work completed in the program be submitted by you or your mentor for inclusion in our Visible Ink archives, which are maintained as a private record.

9. Where are writing sessions held?

Visible Ink does not have assigned space. Writing sessions can be held in any location conducive to conversation (e.g., a public lounge or coffee shop) but not in participants’ or mentors’ homes or in the hospital. Writing can also be exchanged and evaluated via e-mail, online chat, or phone.  

10. Do I need to live locally in order to participate?

No. Our participants and mentors can communicate via phone, online chat (Skype or FaceTime), or e-mail (though not via social media or a public online forum).