What is writing coaching?
Excellent question, Watson.
Writing Coaching is just what is sounds like: having someone coach you as you stumble and run and crawl and dance through your creative life. Think of it as boot camp for your creative spirit. Or imagine you’re an Olympic athlete in training. This is the level of dedication and intention you and I will both bring to the table.
It’s not therapy, although we definitely wade into similar waters sometimes--I take a holistic approach because it's all connected. (Please note: I am not a therapist or mental health professional and am always careful not to cross boundaries. It's a great idea to go through this process with me while seeing a mental health professional, if that's something you need).
Though every writer is different, it’s likely you and I will be working through some of the core issues writers (and all artists) struggle with: fear, shame, self-doubt, a sense of unworthiness, or having to heal from artistic abuse (whether that be from a teacher, a program, family bullying, or artistic trauma). We’ll look at how to deal with failure and envy and practical things like procrastination. We look at your creative life as though we are architects of the imagination, dreamscapers, if you will. I'll help you redesign your personal landscape so that you’re in the best position for your dreams as a writer to come true. (Dreamscaping = Artist Life Makeover). We’ll talk goals and publishing and art. We'll talk creative blocks and how you might be your own worst enemy. I'll teach you how to meditate and incorporate mindfulness into your life and your creative process. This is an intense, transformative, inspiring, beautiful journey that I am beyond honored to share with the writers I work with.
Pneuma is a safe space in which you can explore your creativity, push against boundaries, and channel your brave.
How is this different from editorial services?
My editorial services focus on the work itself—your book and your craft. So I would read and line edit your manuscript and provide detailed feedback both on the work itself and as an in-depth editorial letter. We’d be focusing on craft and the elements of story. Of course, I take a holistic approach any time I work with a writer, so we will invariably touch on some aspects of your creative process in regards to deepening your understanding of craft, story, and your work-in-progress.
You can combine coaching and editorial work – in fact, this is my recommendation (and no, it's not because I want all your money). The benefit of combining coaching and critique is that you get to take everything you've learned and worked hard on in the Creative Season and put it into practice. You get to test drive your new habits (which you've been doing for three months in the season, but now you're doing without me--without your training wheels, so to speak). Then we get to come back together and see how it went and what we need to dig deeper into and tweak about your process, lifestyle, and artistic mindset. As a bonus, you receive a free revision from me once you’ve taken another go at your manuscript.
What will we do?
This experience is curated especially for you. This means that you will have reading, assignments, and activities that are chosen based on what I think will be the most helpful for you both now and in the long run. My signatures course, the Creative Season, is a three-month long creativity immersion and recovery program that I've developed and tested through working with my clients. I'm happy to send you an outline of it--just shoot me an email. We look at every aspect of your life: your finances, your relationships, your schedule, your health, your process, your past, your inner demons, etc.
If you aren’t published, we’re going to get you to a place that will set you up to becoming a professional author with a regular writing practice and a life centered on creativity and wholeness. We will likely talk about the changes and sacrifices you’ll need to make in your life if you really want to be a writer. We’ll talk about a holistic mind-body-spirit approach to life. You will also begin a meditation practice and have the tools to continue this powerful work long after I am gone, including a strong foundation in how meditation increases creative flow.
We will also work through things that come up for you in your work and in this process: our work as writers is often autobiographical on some level and that can be difficult to navigate. You might be dealing with self-doubt, fear, stress, pressure…You name it, we’ll deal with it. When appropriate, I may offer suggestions about ways you can get help from a mental health professional, if this seems necessary. As delightfully naughty as it might sound, I’m not here to play doctor with you. I promise, though, that integrating meditation into your life, as well as a serious writing habit, will help enormously with stress, anxiety, fear, and everything else that comes up.
If you're not ready for the season, there are many other options for you. A fun way to start is through my Expressive Coaching offerings. Click below to find out more.
I'm already published - why do I need a coach?
For my published clients, we’ll be working on how not to lose your shit in this industry, how to get back to the work, combat envy, reconnect with your creative spirit, and find a way to balance the business side of writing, with the actual writing side of writing. We’ll talk marketing, blogging, and everything in between. We’ll also look at your brand and how that should organically evolve from your personality, your writing, as well as your other gifts and interests. We'll take a long look at what fucks with your serenity: think a social media detox, not reading PW sales announcements, and how to be an advocate for yourself.
We’ll also be using my Dreamscaping Method, which is basically looking at your life as though you are its architect (and you are!) planning the landscape of your creative and professional world, just as you want it to be.
You might be particularly interested in my Published Author S.O.S for a quick reboot.
Here's what one of my published authors, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, had to say about working with me:
I came to Heather because I needed to get past a traumatic experience and reboot my career. She helped me identify what was most important to me in terms of my writing and how to let go of misconceptions that were holding me back. As a result, I have considered avenues that I had dismissed earlier. I’ve learned to own my values and my words, take control of my process and not cede the direction of my career to others.
Will we be able to talk about publishing and business-related stuff?
Absolutely. I’ll be careful to make sure we don’t get too sidetracked, but I’ll give you the resources you need, as well as answer questions and dole out advice. I’m happy to walk you through my own publishing experience and creative process, as well. Our last session is totally geared toward focusing on building or tweaking your author brand, discussing your platform, and getting into all things marketing / sales / submissions. However, to really focus on this, I do have an option for a publishing-focused coaching season. It's not on my page, but let me know and I'll send you the info.
How will coaching help my writing? Shouldn’t I be focusing on that instead?
Regardless of your goals concerning our time together, investing in improving your writing practice will have a direct effect on your writing. During our time together, you’ll be writing more than ever (all my clients have a writing log and most begin using a planner such as the Self Journal, which I recommend, or the Passion Planner--which I used to use, but found stressed me out). When you don’t write, we’ll look at why you stayed away from the chair that day and see what kind of lifestyle adjustments you might be able to make, or we’ll smash whatever mental blocks you have. You can’t write well if you haven’t structured your life to incorporate writing as a regular (ideally daily) practice. And you can’t write well if you’re dealing with a lot of creative blocks and baggage. It’s all connected.
We will also be coming up with a clear, realistic Action Plan for finishing your current work-in-progress. Like, really finish it. There will be due dates and everything. I am also happy to answer any writing questions and point you to some great craft resources, as well as give you a few exercises to help with specific areas. If you really want to spend some time deep diving into craft, consider doing some craft counseling with me. This is a special one-on-one coaching course I've designed to help writers work on their specific craft issues. It's not on the page, but email me and I can send you the info.
At the end of the day, it’s about the writing.
Having a dream and committing to it works. It worked for me, and it can work for you. But you have to want it. You have to really want to be a professional writer, the best writer you can be, a person whose art is part of their identity and a big part of their life. In our instant gratification culture, you’re gonna have to accept that there is nothing instant about writing. It’s a marathon, not a race. But the whole marathon is gratifying. There is no excuse you could give me that would get me to say, Oh, well, now I understand why you don’t write even though you say you want to be a writer. It’s okay, don’t worry about it. One of my dear friends wrote through cancer, multiple miscarriages, grad school, and sometimes crippling depression. Another wrote through a year-long illness while raising four boys under the age of ten. I have clients that write even though their painful past keeps biting them in the ass. Others are writing through divorce, the death of loved ones, crippling poverty, chronic pain, law suits, and all sorts of demons (Hey there, shame and fear and rejection, how you doin’?). You name it, someone’s writing through it.
If you’re sick, we’ll make it work. If you’re dying, we’ll make it work. If you can’t get out of bed in the morning because it hurts so much to be alive, we will make it fucking work. I promise. The writing is what will anchor you to yourself, to the people you love, to this world. I will have your back 200%. I’ll get in the trenches with you and watch out for snipers. It is my belief that when women are empowered to do what they love and to fight for their dreams, all of society benefits. Doing this for yourself is not selfish. It’s not something to feel guilty about. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or a bad wife or bad daughter or bad team player at your day job. It makes you a fucking excellent person. And we all want to be fucking excellent people, right?
Allow yourself to believe that what you want is possible. Rest in that for a moment.
Feels good, huh?
To get started, schedule a focusing call with me, which is a free coaching session where you can see how this process feels, what it looks like in practice, and get your questions answered. You'll walk away with an Action Plan for the rest of the month, regardless of whether or not you sign up for some coaching.
Deep breath. Ready? Let's do this.