About Schrijfkracht

We live in a world of abundant, and volatile, information. Schrijfkracht, Dutch for “writing power”, combines research with integrity and storytelling with passion, to connect head, heart and gut.

I’m Paulien Bakker, founder of Schrijfkracht. I studied journalism and psychology and specialized in cultural differences, human motives and storytelling. It is said that your behavior in the past is the best predictor of future behavior. So here it comes...


Before I could write, I would make my grandmother, my parents and my brother sit in front of me while I delivered a sermon. I had things I wanted to tell – although the collection bag was also a good incentive. To everyone’s relief, I took to the typewriter not so long after.

Tekening van meisje dat geblinddoekt mediteert in de wolken


After my studies in journalism (polytechnic) and psychology (university; Master's Degree), I worked for five years for the magazine IntermediairPW. There I got to know the editorial process. I continued as a freelance journalist, writing for newspapers, magazines and a number of international media outlets. Returning customers included de Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland, NRC, Psychologie Magazine, Flow and the American Narratively and Al Jazeera English. In addition, I was editor-in-chief and developed various magazines on assignment, including Talent, Werf&, Erik and Magazine Verhalende Journalistiek (magazine on narrative journalism). Volkskrant, Vrij Nederland, NRC, Psychologie Magazine, Flow en het Amerikaanse Narratively en Al Jazeera English. More and more my focus moved from informing my audience to seducing the reader, listener, viewer.

Passion for other cultures

In my twenties I practiced martial arts (karate and self-defense) on four continents – in The Bronx (New York), India, Mali, Belgium and of course at home. Admittedly, sometimes more successful than others. Years later I traveled to Rwanda and ended up in an orphanage. The director told me how he was the only one alive to leave a full church when he was twelve. I got goosebumps. Listening to his experience, I realized that that's what makes sense to me: conveying other people's meaningful experiences. Shortly afterwards I traveled to Iraq, where the deeply moving stories were there for the taking. A candy store. But as social media swept the globe, I found that our ability to put ourselves in another person's shoes is increasingly being tested. How do you still reach your audience? I was inspired by The New Yorker.

I got to meet storytelling journalists from all over the world, and learn how they used audio, video, multimedia and text to tell their beautiful stories.

Storytelling as my tool of choice

I organized its annual conference True Story, with more than 300 colleagues coming to Stichting Verhalende Journalistiek. For me, this event was a candy shop. I got to meet storytelling journalists from all over the world, and learn how they used audio, video, multimedia and text to tell their beautiful stories. Stichting Verhalende Journalistiek More recently, I have also used storytelling for film, social media campaigns and exhibitions. Meestervertellersis the annual yearbook of best storytelling in the Netherlands I've initiated.


Just a list of projects: - Daily life Baghdad with photographer Marieke van der Velden - Country without orphans on Rwanda, with Anisleidy Martínez and photographer Anaïs López - I want to break free on Albania with photographer Bernadet de Prins - Book: A romantic people (in Dutch) on city of Kirkuk (Iraq) - Book: What comes after a mistake..remains a mistake (IS). Daily life Baghdad (Irak; met fotograaf Marieke van der Velden), Country without Orphans (Rwanda; met filmmaker Anisleidy Martínez en fotograaf Anaïs López) en I want to break free - Albania (Albanië; met fotograaf Bernadet de Prins). Daarnaast schreef ik twee boeken: Een romantisch volk over de olierijke Iraakse stad Kirkuk en What comes after a mistake…remains a mistake over een Iraaks gezin waarvan een kind radicaliseerde.

Story doctor

Tegenwoordig geef ik schrijfbegeleiding aan andere makers (vooral fotografen en schrijvers). Ik coach hen bij het vinden van het emotionele hart van hun verhaal. Vooral als je al langer aan een project werkt, dan verzuip je op een gegeven moment in je materiaal. Door terug te gaan naar het emotionele hart van het project, krijg je als maker weer richting. En het mooie is: wat dicht bij het hart ligt, is eigenlijk altijd zinvol.

Here you can read what others have said about me: https://www.schrijfkracht.nl/en/references/

Foto credtis eerste en laatste foto: Rafaël Philippen