About Me

Schrijfkracht (‘Writing Power’) was founded by Paulien Bakker (Amsterdam, the Netherlands).

I believe in engaged journalism and in the power of a well-written story. I work as a Story Writer, Story Doctor, and Story Manager. After all, our brains are meaning-seeking machines.

* * *

As a child, on Sundays I would put my parents, brother, and grandmother on a bench in front of me and give a sermon, heavily copying the hand gestures of the minister. I guess I’ve been wanting to reach my audience from an early age on – or was it the donation box I was after? Everyone was relieved when I got hold of my mother’s typewriter instead.

In my twenties, I traveled and practiced martial arts on four continents – in The Bronx (New York), India, Mali and closer to home, in Ghent (Belgium). Coming from a protected youth, it taught me a lot about life. I studied journalism (Bachelor’s) and Psychology (Master’s Degree) and after that, I worked in the editorial office of IntermediairPW magazine for five years.

In December 2005, while traveling, I met the director of an orphanage in Rwanda. He told me how at the age of twelve he had managed to leave a crowded church, shortly before all the others were slaughtered. His savior had once received a cow from his father. I had goosebumps listening to him; his life story deeply moved me. Shortly after, I set off for Iraq. Understanding people who come from a different culture, bringing across their experiences, became an important part of my work.

Understanding people who come from a different culture, bringing across their experiences, became an important part of my work.

I’ve been writing for most of the national newspapers of the Netherlands and a variety of outlets, among which Narratively, de Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland, and Flow magazine. In addition, I developed several magazines on assignment. From 2013-2018 I was (part-time) director of the Initiative for Narrative Journalism in the Netherlands, organizing an international conference for some 300+ colleagues on narrative journalism annually.

I am fascinated by beautiful, narrative stories and the possibilities of new media. I reserve time for ‘free work’ as photographers call it: my own projects that give me the opportunity to further develop my skills. My first book “A romantic people” is about the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk. I also worked on two long-term cross-media projects: “Daily life Baghdad” (Iraq together with photographer Marieke van der Velden) and “Country without Orphans” (Rwanda together with filmmaker Anisleidy Martinez and photographer Anaïs López).

Currently, I am working on my new book and started working on a new project with photographer Bernadet de Prins: “I want to break free” (Albania). As a Story Doctor, I also help others in and outside of the creative sector to find the emotional heart of their work.

Photo: Marieke van der Velden