It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.
You want to start writing that novel but can’t seem to find the time. The kids need ferrying to their soccer games; you have to clean out the garage, and hey you are going on holidays in a couple of weeks and need to plan your itinerary. Or you are beyond hooked on social media.
Meantime that novel sits either deadlocked at Chapter 3 or the novel plot and characters are scurrying around you mind faster than mice in your house.
What do you do? Who do you call?
You need someone to help get you motivated to write. You can get another writer friend who can empathize with your predicament, join a writing critique group. Or hire a writing consultant.
I briefly mentioned in last week’s post that I coach clients in writing. But what exactly does that mean? What exactly do I do?
First I talk to the client (either in person or by Skype or regular phone) to see where they are at (or not at) with their novel, short story, or memoir. We talk about their goals and if that is nebulous we try to get the goals more concrete. I present suggestions for working with them – in person or via Skype or a combination of both.
So, what exactly can happen during the consult?
If the author hasn’t actually started writing, we discuss an outline for our time together based on their story outline. I may get them to write a synopsis of their novel just to nail it down. The next step depends on the client. With one client we brainstormed ideas for each chapter and she took notes. Then she went home, wrote the chapter, maybe with a revision, and emailed that chapter to me to look over before our next consult.
At this meeting, we first went through this chapter with me making suggestions, which we discussed and then she made notes to do so (if the client brings his or her laptop or iPad, he or she can make the changes right then). The rest of the session we brainstormed for her next chapter. And then the process was repeated as we did with her previous chapter.
Another client is well into her manuscript and just needs feedback on what she has written. We work either in person or with Skype. She emails me the chapter she is working on (often a few hours before our appointment) and I look it over. When she is “here” she looks at her copy on her laptop and I look at it on my computer. She gives me a brief synopsis of where this chapter will fit in her book (it is non-fiction), what it focuses on and what she hopes to accomplish with this chapter. I make suggestions and ask questions about the content. Often I will suggest moving something up for the beginning, rewording the beginning or the middle, clarifying different things, adding different things, etc. As we talk, she is making the changes or making note of changes to make if it will take some time to do so (for example, if she has to check her research or do more research). Once we are done with the chapter, if there is still time in our hour together, she might go into what she will be working on next in the book.
The fiction-writing client and I met once a week. The non-fiction-writing client and I meet twice a month. Sure, there is a fee, but the feedback I get from my clients is that it is worth it for them to get going at their writing.
These writing sessions establish regularity in writing and because the author also has to write outside the sessions, a few meetings may be all she needs before she embarks on writing that novel, that memoir, that short story collection, without someone on her case. I see where these sessions also help the writer gain some self-confidence that she can actually do this, and actually write something. The latter ties in with the writing critique part.
So, if you don’t want to hire someone to coach you in your writing, join a writing critique group – it will motivate you to write if you have to produce something for critique every couple of weeks.
Sharon A. Crawford
You can read about my characters and their stories in my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012). Click on the book at the top and it takes you to Sharon A. Crawford’s profile – including book reviews – at http://www.amazon.com.
More info on Sharon A.’s upcoming gigs, workshops, guest blog posts, etc. at http://www.samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondtheTrippingPoint.html And keep checking http://samcraw.com/Articles/BeyondBlood.html for the latest news on the release of my first mystery novel Beyond Blood, also published by Blue Denim Press http://www.bluedenimpress.com More info on the Beyond Blood page as we get closer to the date. And remember that clicking on the book icon at the top gets you to my Amazon profile.