My writing life with a coach…

pathThe timing for my decision to hire a writing coach couldn’t have been better.  Several months into this joint project between myself and my coach has left me almost delirious with purpose.

Earlier this winter, I had the good fortune to read a post from Sarah Potter’s blog featuring a concept called Novel Writing Winter.  She explained her kinder and gentler approach to working on her book using the entire winter season to snuggle up and write.  I thought it was so creative, especially for those of us who are hunkered down anyway, facing those bleary grey winter days.  I’d already flunked out of NaNoWriMo and the prospect of having a writing buddy, a pal across the pond in the UK (in her case) sounded delightful.  I pictured many afternoons with an imaginary tea party with Sarah and friends chatting about our projects and realized it was exactly the support that I needed.

To that point, I had been writing.  I had been discovering memories, painstakingly putting them into form on a blog, mostly short and random stories.  It was fulfilling to a point but knew I had a larger purpose for the experience that I had gone through of abuse, childhood violence and recovery.  I wanted this story to be a book but hadn’t a clue of where to go from there.

I quickly joined up with Sarah and friends, put her badge on my blog and sat down with my stories.  Since I was already feeling encouraged by this support, I thought, why not take it to the next level?  The National Association of Memoir Writers, a group that I had belonged to for a year or so, was offering a class on memoir writing given by two women who I have come to love and respect.  Linda Joy Myers, who started NAMW, and Brooke Warner of Warner Coaching, were giving a 4-week introductory class through their Write Your Memoir in Six Months site.  It seemed like a perfect place to start in my quest to find out more and provide my story with some structure.

Yes, I said structure.  The one aspect of this process that was sorely lacking attention.  You see, I love the creative flow, the zone where I’m lost in my mind and pouring out words on the keyboard.  The romantic aspect of writing appeals so greatly to me.  Sitting in the library, books all around me, dog curled up by my side complete with a steaming cup of tea.  I have a good laugh at myself when I realize I’ve cultivated this quirky, dressed in black, elusive artist persona.  Oh, you should see me poised at the window wistfully looking out at the bleary winter sky with the tormented gaze of Virginia Wolff. I seriously have this part down.  I enjoy it so much that to date, it was the only part that was well developed.  But there is a practical, methodical aspect to writing that I hadn’t embraced yet and it seemed its time had come.  These stories needed structure, a place to belong, a linear home.

What I learned, during the 4 week course, was invaluable.  I was able to shift my brain over to the left a bit and look at the “bones” of my book, how I wanted it be outlined, what I wanted it to say.  Both Brooke and Linda are crackerjack at gently and persistently nudging us as writers, to look at the big picture and to work effectively and efficiently toward that goal.  I’m thinking I’ve probably shaved off years of aimless window gazing by finally choosing Brooke from Warner Coaching to be my writing coach.

Now, here’s my disclaimer.  I didn’t feel confident or even competent enough in the beginning to justify the money to hire a writing coach.  In fact, I was a real Nervous Nelly about it.  I had a few days of the inner critic snickering, “You think you’re good enough for this?”  “She works with professionals in the publishing industry, not wannabe window-gazing writers!”  “Just keep this dark, miserable writing to yourself, no one will want to read it!”

So, my critic and I had a long chat and I won. Ha. Through this conversation, I pinpointed exactly what I wanted.  In my heart, the reason I started this memoir in the first place, was to give the small child I once was a voice.  She had endured so much pain yet remained stoic and strong for a lifetime, that it was her time to speak.  I wanted more than anything to tell her story and mine and have it help someone along the way.  I just know that there are women, children, men and boys living everyday lives, struggling with secrets and the trauma of abuse.  I want to set them free.

I hired Brooke and what I’ve learned so far is just perfect.  She keeps me focused on the outline, the structure, the message, my voice.  These are not easy tasks for someone like me.  Traumatized children grow up into traumatized adults who don’t come by linear thinking easily.  We gravitate toward chaos.  And because of this special challenge, I needed a coach who would get this.

Why I chose to work with a writing coach, specifically Brooke….

  • I needed accountability.  When we have deadlines, we work toward them.  I enjoy having assignments with specific due dates, it keeps me motivated and focused.
  • Early on, I realized that I needed to work with a woman.  Trust is such a big issue with me and I work better with women, I trust them more.  That’s a usual conclusion for abused women and one that I honored with this decision.
  • Brooke has so much professional experience and is wildly qualified to coach writing.  As the former editor of Seal Press, Brooke has worked with hundreds of authors taking their writing to published works.
  • Besides her professional experience, I liked the titles that Seal Press published.  I gravitate toward that genre, it really spoke to me.
  • She’s really nice.  Each suggestion is made with a professional grace combined with warmth and concern for my project.  I feel she respects me, my work and my goals.

After 4 sessions, I can feel a relationship forming and my trust in myself as a person and a writer is growing.  This is a monumentally huge accomplishment for a child of trauma, trust is usually very elusive. So, I must take a moment to thank all the wonderful women who so serendipitously have graced my life.  I consider myself so fortunate to have them placed in my path for me to stumble across, sometimes even tripping.  It’s just a great time to be Little L.

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About Rescuing Little L

Documenting the pieces of my journey...recovery from childhood sexual abuse and cruel ignorance...the effects of those incidious acts through adulthood... until the grace of recovery transcended the trauma and shame of my past, making it possible to return to Rescue Little L.... View all posts by Rescuing Little L

15 responses to “My writing life with a coach…

  • Crowing Crone Joss

    I was just thrilled as I read through this. What a big step and look how it is paying off already! Onward and forward, my friend.

  • Merry ME

    L, This is very timely as my group is working on an e-book about “Why I Write.” I typed up a rough draft, got some feedback and have been stuck ever since. I read the others’ stories and love everything they say. I can relate to it all. I think what I’m lacking is structure. Perhaps the accountability you speak of. It’s easy to blow my writer self off, because really, who do I think I am? “I’m a writer” is growing on me. But I still get easily blocked. Thanks for this information.

    • Rescuing Little L

      Miss Merry….You are welcome! I love picturing all my writer friends in their little clusters all over the globe, writing books and sharing ideas…so cool that you have a writing group. That’s something I’ve been able to scare up around here, at least one that is kind enough for me….and I do know how hard it is to say “I’m a writer”…heck, I can hardly type it without wanting to wince. Damn, inner critic lizard….

      Keep going, we are all out here cheering you on!

  • ntexas99

    I love it that your confidence shows through in your writing of this blog post, even though you readily admit that you suffer from the usual “how in the world did I convince myself that I can write” thoughts that plague most writers. You’ve managed to ignore the voice long enough to peek around the corner and see what might exist when you just go ahead and write. Good for you! Keep on writing, and keep on exploring that part of you that knows that you have a story to tell. *waving pom poms*

    • Rescuing Little L

      Hey girl…I didn’t know you were a cheerleader! Good for you that you have a set of virtual pom poms! I always enjoy hearing from you and your words of encouragement. We gotta keep writing to represent ourselves as those children who didn’t have a voice but do NOW!!!

  • sarahpotterwrites

    Thank you for this interesting and extremely well-written post, which I’ll now reblog 🙂 You come over as such a courageous person, and I’m so glad you wanted to join in with Novel Writing Winter.

    P.S. I always used to dress in black. The first time my husband saw me, I was creeping about in a church wearing dark glasses, a black jumper, black leggings, and black Doc Marten boots. With increased confidence over the years, I’ve learnt to wear some brighter colours such as cherry red and violet, but quickly retreat to more sombre colours on a bad day when I want to be invisible.

  • sarahpotterwrites

    Reblogged this on sarahpotterwrites and commented:
    This is a great post from Rescuing Little L, who is a most valued participant in Novel Writing Winter (NWW) 2013.

  • Terry

    Lovely post. I’ve been considering hiring a coach as I finish my novel, and you’ve given me lots to think about. Thank you.

  • dearrosie

    This is a great inspiring post. I never thought of using a writing coach – I didn’t know there was such a person!
    The photo brilliant. Where did you take it?

    • Rescuing Little L

      Hi Rosie! I didn’t think about a writing coach until the online class and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it….She moves me along in ways I couldn’t even have conceived of, its my treat to myself! I can’t take credit for the photo…its one of those photos passed around, I think it came originally from a nature organization….I liked it because it resembles the path I’m taking….

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