Categories
Coaching Craft

10 Ways to Grow as a Writer

Are you looking for a way to grow as a writer but struggling to work out how to do it? Don’t worry; I’ve got you. Growing as a writer means expanding your knowledge of the craft, your ability to find the time to write, and your access to writing. It means getting better at what you do – writing stories. So, let’s begin with ten ways to grow as a writer.

1) Expand your vocabulary.

Great idea. But, aside from eating a dictionary, how can you go about this? Here are a few ways. Develop a reading habit. Reading helps you understand so much about writing, and it is such a vital part of being a writer that it should not be discounted. It grows your vocabulary, yes, and it also helps you understand plot, tropes, characterisation…the list is endless. Another great and fun way to expand your vocabulary is to play word games. I’m talking about Wordle, Scrabble, and more. Games are for adults, too!

2) Use writing prompts.

Every other week I share a new writing prompt with my subscribers. Why? Because they are an excellent lesson in writing. They can inspire poetry, short stories, a paragraph that sparks an entire novel you never knew you had in you. Writing with writing prompts is the practice of growing as a writer and making progress in the craft you love.

3) Share your writing.

Yes, I said it. Sharing your writing will help you grow as a writer. For some, the thought of this is scary. I get it; I’ve been there. When I was in the first year of my undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, I used to sit at my table, dreading the moment I would be called on to read my writing to the class. But, here’s the thing…after a while, it didn’t bother me so much. Why? Two reasons. The first is that practising anything makes it much easier. The second is that my peers were trained to give feedback. That second one is vital. If you are nervous about sharing your work, share it with the right person. Share with another writer, a friend you trust, an editor or a writing coach. Practice sharing because peer review is one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal as writers.

4) Keep a writing journal. 

What’s a writing journal, and why keep one? A writing journal is like your regular journal or diary, only this one focuses on your writing, including anything you want to talk about, how it’s going, what you are struggling with, and what you have written that day. So why would keeping one help you grow as a writer? Because it enables you to explore your process, what is working for you, and what isn’t. This kind of investigation helps you learn exactly who you are as a writer and pinpoint areas of growth.

5) Hire a writing coach or editor. 

As a writing coach and editor, I can tell you that I have watched all of my clients grow through our work together. It is an incredible thing to witness, and I love helping writers discover what works for them, clear the path forward, and ultimately achieve their dreams of writing their novels. I am trained to ask the right questions to help you find a way forward, and growing as a writer is a worthy investment indeed. I hire a coach too, and it’s the best thing I ever decided to do. Here’s a little on my own experience: The Top 5 Things I Learned from Working with a Coach

6) Join a writing group. 

Writing groups are amazing because they provide us with support and craft knowledge and offer us accountability. You can look online or in your local area and see what’s offered.

7) Take part in a writing retreat. 

Writing retreats are incredible. They are spaces for you to create, write, and learn. They are your community, and they leave you feeling rested, inspired, and truly like the writer you are. Looking for a writing retreat to join? Recently I co-ran a writing retreat called The Writing Week Retreat, and it was a runaway success, with writers writing more in one week than usual, and community-led learning. Want to know more and receive updates about the next one? Get in touch here.

8) Write outside your comfort zone. 

When was the last time you pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone when writing? Not sure? Here’s a task to do that right now!

Take the opening paragraph of your novel or latest work. Re-write it, using none of the same words as your original work.

What does this task do? It forces you to think differently, search for new words, and grow as a writer. Give it a go today, and see which piece of writing you prefer.

9) Subscribe to a writing magazine and participate in competitions. 

There are some fantastic writing magazines available, and they are full of competitions and fun things to be a part of. How does this help you grow? Aside from the craft information shared within these magazines, using writing competitions gives you new ideas, new prompts and instils a routine into your writing life.

10) Revise old writing. 

Want to know how much you have grown as a writer? Read and revise your old work. Highlight what you like, and re-write what you don’t. Pay attention to what has changed, how your eye has developed, and be proud of your growth. Need an editor to help? Feel free to get in touch today and book a free 30-minute Discovery Call with me.

Ready to talk about coaching?

As a Certified Professional Coach, trained by an ICF company and with an ILM Level 2, you can trust that my coaching skills are tried and tested. As a writer with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing, and over six years of lecturing in adult education and at universities, I’m a professional writer specialising in helping others find their way forward. 

Any to add? Let me know! Want to read something similar?

Check these out:

3 Things I Did to Level Up My Writing Game
10 Ways to Limit Writing Overwhelm

Categories
Coaching Productivity

Mindfulness Techniques for Writers

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a type of meditation that can be practised at any time. It might be that you have heard people talk about eating ‘mindfully’, meaning that they focus on and are aware of what they are eating during that moment, and in many ways, this is the simplest way of describing it:

‘Mindfulness is being aware of yourself, others and the world around you.’ (Chaskalson, M and McMordie. M. Mindfulness for Coaches. New York, Routledge, 2018.)

You may not know this, but I have studied and practice mindfulness. This helps me every day, and I use it in my writing and coaching practice. Practising mindfulness involves focusing on your breathing, noticing thoughts without entirely giving in to them, and paying attention to the task at hand. Practising mindfulness has been proven to improve the ability to focus, regulate emotion and gain perspective. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

How can it help you write?

Mindfulness is all well and good, but if it weren’t linked in some way to writing, then I wouldn’t be talking about it! So, how can it actually help you write? It’s all linked to the act and process of writing. As we all know, sitting down to write is not always easy, and it can be stressful. Whether you feel pressure because of a deadline, don’t know what you should be focusing on next, or don’t know how you will fit writing into your busy week, practising mindfulness can help.

Why involve it in your Creative Writing practice?

Good question. The answer is because it can help move you forward. It can help with your mindset, allow you to have perspective, and offer you the ability to enjoy writing as a mindful process instead of one that potentially causes feelings of stress, comparison, and overwhelm. Just as a side note, these are totally normal feelings to have around writing. Why? Because it’s not as simple as sitting down and writing a fun story. Sometimes we feel stressed, and other times we can’t help but compare our writing or productivity to the highlight reel that is Instagram.

How to begin involving mindfulness in your process today:

If you are ready to give it a go, let’s start today. After all, if you’re being offered something that could improve your writing life, why not start as soon as possible? Here are some mindfulness techniques for writers:

Technique 1:
An excellent task to begin your mindful writing practice is to write for five minutes about your current surroundings. Five minutes is a short amount of time, so don’t feel that you are wasting time that could be spent on your work in progress – on the contrary, allowing yourself some time and space to warm up, embed yourself in the present, and notice the senses, will result in a happier writing experience. Why? Because you will feel calmer, and your mind will be more focused on the task at hand, having a similar result to task batching.

Technique 2:
Ring a bell. This is one of my favourite tasks because it helps me see when my mind has wandered from writing. Give it a go yourself, and see how it works for you. When writing your work in progress, keep a bell beside you. Every time you find that you have slipped from the narrative of your story and start thinking about something else – perhaps you begin to think about what you will have for dinner – ring the bell. This might sound strange, but what you are doing is practising paying attention to writing. You are being mindful of your practice. Ringing the bell is a physical activity that uses the senses, pulling you back into the present.

Technique 3:
Practice being present with your main character. You could do this in many ways, from writing a letter to them to hot seating them with interview type questions. One of my favourite ways of doing this is through drawing. You should know your character inside out, so spend some time with them. The better you know them, the better you will write them, and the easier it will be to focus purely on the act of telling their story.

Technique 4: 
To get a first draft down on the page, it helps to push revision to one side. Why? Because you cannot edit a blank page. If you are someone who struggles with the idea of this and find yourself re-reading what you have written as you are writing, catch yourself. Take a breath, and think of the next part of your story. If you notice that you are thinking thoughts such as ‘That doesn’t sound good,’ or ‘That word isn’t quite right,’ label it as a thought. Ask yourself if spending your writing time searching for the right word is the best thing you could be doing right now or whether you could spend those ten minutes writing one hundred new words. Taking a deep breath and noticing our thoughts is a big part of getting to the next stage of our writing process – the edit. Revision can be done then, so allow yourself the grace to write now.

There are four ways to practice mindfulness in your writing life today. Give it a go, and see what happens.
If this has brought anything up for you and you want to talk about how you can move forward in your writing life, get in touch. I would love to help you prosper and write a novel you are proud of.

Categories
Coaching

The Top 5 Things I Learned from Working with a Coach

Yes, I am a writing coach, so of course, I could tell you what you could gain from working with me…but I’ve already done that! (See the following blog posts – What Is A Writing Coach & Writing Coach vs Editor: What’s the Difference?)

So, today I thought I would tell you what I’ve learned from working with a coach myself.

I’ve repeatedly said that coaches should be coached, and there is a reason for this. To help others, you should be actively helping yourself. This means that you work on your mindset, are consistently learning about your practice, and putting yourself in the shoes of a client.

I am part of a beautiful coaching community for small business owners and have a personal coach. I have also recently hired a coach to help me with marketing specifically. There are so many coaches that specialise in specific niches now, just like my niche of writing, and it is wonderful to be able to work with experts.

So, here’s what I have learned through being coached.

1) Having space held for you can change everything. 

It’s not every day that you can expect someone to give you their full attention, and that’s fair enough. But, when they do, amazing things can happen. Coaching is a wonderful experience, and it’s partly because of this. Having someone hold that space for you, listen to what you are saying without interruption, and ask you the right questions can help you reveal solutions that you didn’t even realise existed. A coach listens to what you are saying without judgement, in a safe space. This alone has helped me become a better, happier, and more fulfilled person.

2) Coaching can build on success, not just solve problems. 

Did you know that coaching isn’t just for specific problems? Nope, coaching is also to build on success. For example, you don’t have to be struggling with a writing routine or draft to hire a writing coach; you can also be having the most prolific writing period of your life and want it to continue. You could be finding yourself motivated every day to create and want to investigate the set of circumstances that led you there so that you can keep being your best self.

Coaching to build on success is a great way to invest in yourself. It’s saying, ‘Hey, things are going great, and long may they continue. In fact, I’ll make sure they do.’

This is the reason I continue to invest in a coaching programme; because I want to continue building on the success that I have found with them.

3) Having someone rooting for you can hold you accountable. 

It’s not the deadlines given by a coach that hold me accountable; it’s the fact that they are rooting for me personally. Coaching is a professional relationship with a difference – you have someone on your team, and they believe in you and your progress. The thought of sharing my achieved tasks with my coach makes me happy because I’m excited to move forward with them in our next session, not because I’m afraid of missing a deadline.

4) Positive change starts with you.

You only have a coach for an hour or so a week or even a month, depending on what you opt for. Outside of this time, it’s down to the client to make what has been discussed work for them. I spend a good few hours a week working on my actions points and planning for my coaching sessions. I like to mix it up, too, like climbing a hill on the treadmill while catching up on a pre-recorded Zoom meeting. Whatever it is, I make sure that I take responsibility for that positive change in my life outside of my coaching sessions.  Coaching gives me the action points to work from, but the action comes from me.

5) Investing in yourself is about much more than money. 

When you give yourself the opportunity of time, education, and accountability, investing in yourself becomes about more than money. It becomes about believing in yourself and setting you up for success. I made a private video at the start of this year, at the suggestion of my coach. It was just me, talking about where I currently was in my business, life, and expectations. Well, the other day, I finally looked back on it ten months later. It was amazing to see the growth of those months. I know that coaching helped me get there, and I am so grateful for that reminder of how far I have come.

So, have you ever been coached, and if so, what did you learn? I would love to know, so share it with me today

Categories
Productivity

How To Set Effective Writing Goals

Do you ever feel that you set goals but struggle to move them beyond the act of writing them down? If so, this is the blog post for you.

Setting effective writing goals is the key to moving forward in our writing lives and achieving those literary dreams. So, let’s break it down together.

Specifically define success. 

What is the goal? If you want to write a novel, ask yourself what the endpoint is. If it’s to publish the work and promote it, the goal doesn’t just end at writing the novel. Being specific about what success will mean for you is key.

Understand the actions involved. 

Yes, we can write down ‘Write a novel’, or ‘Publish’, but that doesn’t really tell us what is involved in the act, and so can mean that success will be harder to reach. To set an effective writing goal, break down the actions that are involved in the task.

  • How will you achieve your set goals?
  • What is involved in writing a novel?
  • What will you need to learn to publish?
  • Will you hire an editor?

There are lots of questions to consider. If you need a hand with this bit, don’t be afraid to get in touch and ask for help!

Set a Timeline. 

Once you know what is involved in your writing goal, you can set a realistic timeline for the process. Be generous and realistic. If you need help with planning your writing week, check this post out here!

Remind yourself. 

It’s time to set up that writing habit. Look at your calendar and slot in those actions, setting reminders to help you remember to do the work. If you struggle with finding the time, The Time to Write Workbook can take you through the process. It’s an investment in yourself for the price of a cup of coffee!

Get to work.

Once those effective writing goals are set, the only thing left to do is take action. Getting to work on your goals can be made much easier by setting rewards for each task and keeping that final stage in mind.

If you’re looking for some further help, why not take a look at my Novel Writing Masterclass – It’s Time to Write Your Novel. This course takes you from idea to publication and will make setting those goals so much easier.

What writing goals do you have? Let me know – I would love to help you achieve them!

Found this blog post useful? Share it with another writer.

Want to read something similar? Check these out:

The Time Blocking Tools That Can Help You Write Your Novel
Tips and Tricks for Dealing With Procrastination 
Ten Tips For Planning Your Writing Week

Categories
Productivity

How to Get Back Into Writing After a Break

Sometimes we need a holiday, and our writing breaks are planned, and at other times they creep up on us, and we realise that it’s been weeks, or maybe even months, since we last wrote. When that happens, how can we get back into writing after taking a break? Here are five ways. Oh, actually, I’m feeling kind. Have ten!

1) Be kind to yourself. 

It’s okay to take a break from your novel. Seriously – it is. You might have heard about writers who write 1000 words a day with ease and three novels a year, but all that does not matter. Being a prolific writer is how you define it. I try and write 4,000 words a week, but in the last few months, I have had a lot of editing to do as well, so I have split my time between two projects. This means that I’ve been writing more like 2,000 words a week. That’s okay. Whatever your situation, the fact that you are reading this means that you are ready to get back into writing, and that’s great. Be kind to yourself; a writer doesn’t have to write all the time to be a writer.

2) Mindmap. 

Get all of those ideas down on paper – whether they are reasonable, excellent, or you’re not so sure. Just the act of allowing yourself to think through ideas for your work in progress will create new inspiration, ideas, and inspire you to take action.

3) Writing exercises.

One of my favourites. I love to partake in writing exercises to get myself in the writing mood! I teach one of my favourite ways of coming up with novel ideas in my Novel Writing Masterclass, so if you’re a fan of exercises too and want a hand going from idea to publication, go ahead and take a peek!

4) Real-life research. 

From cooking the meals your characters enjoy to saddling up and experiencing their way of travel, there are many ways to enjoy real-life research. You could even sit down to create a map (I love Inkarnate for this). Doing things that relate to your novel but are not writing can help get those creative juices flowing.

5) Re-organise that routine. 

Writing routines change, and that’s okay! It might feel a bit dusty and stilted if you are coming back to an old routine after a break away from writing. Spend some time refreshing that writing routine and working out how you want it to be moving forward. If you want a hand with this, take this fun quiz on my website!

6) Chat to other writers. 

Get involved in the writing community. Whether you join a local writing group, a private Facebook group, or the fabulous writing community on Instagram, there are many wonderful places to find other writers. Within them, you will get accountability, warm conversation, and like-mindedness that’s hard to beat. Plus, there will be others who would like to get back into writing too, so you can share your thoughts with them.

7) Read, read, read.

Remind yourself of your writing passion by picking up those books again and digging in! The more you read, the easier it will be to write. Why? Because through reading we get more entertainment. We get an education on what it is to write, on tropes, grammar, and so much more. Most important of all, we get inspiration.

8) Write your favourite book. 

Well, no, not the exact same book. But, there’s a lot to be said for writing fan fiction if you want to get back into writing. If your creative faucet feels stuck, then slip into a world that you already know, with characters you already love.

9) Re-ignite your passion with a course. 

Writing courses are fantastic for getting us back into the writing spirit. If you are looking for a course to try, give It’s Time to Write Your Novel a go! It’s a 40 class course for only $99 and will take you from procrastination to print.

10) Create an experience. 

We don’t just have to be typing to write. You can create an experience based on your book too. From creating a collage on Pinterest to building a beautiful playlist that transports you straight into your world, there are many ways to develop an experience that will deliver you directly to your novel.

Do you have any to add? If so, I would love to hear them!

Found this useful? Please share it with another writer.

Looking for something similar to read? Check the following out.

3 Things I Did to Level Up My Writing Game
T
he Reset Week: Investigate Your Writing Process
T
he Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Writing Routine

Categories
Productivity

Why My Writing Routine Won’t Work For You

Writing routines and rituals are an important part of the writing process. They are the answer to ‘I don’t have the time to write’ – figuring out a writing routine carefully can help us find available hours in our busy week. 

But here’s the critical thing about creating a writing routine…it has to fit in with your life.

I have helped many writers go through the process of creating a writing routine. It can sometimes be lengthy, as the process requires a level of investigation into time, creative data, and a little more. So, it can be tempting to look at other writers and see what they are up to, because there lies the promise of it all being figured out for you.

Following Other Routines 

So, let’s say we listen to Stephen King and pay close attention to his writing routine. He writes every day. Awesome!

At first, it goes well. Writing every day can be a bit addictive even, but then, there comes a day when something gets in the way. It could be anything from taking the car to be serviced to forgetting to sit down and begin, but ultimately it means that a day is missed. The overall feeling that comes from this is that it didn’t work, and it may even stop us from having a go at another writing routine.

If we haven’t spent time considering whether writing every day fits with our lives, it can be a rigid and strict rule that must be broken at some stage. Life happens, and if we restrict ourselves to fixed structures not developed for us, it is far more likely that these structures will be broken.

This is exactly why I do not recommend my own routine to anyone else. Finding a routine that works for you is all about just that! It is wonderful to take inspiration from others, but a routine is more likely to work when it takes your personal schedule into consideration.

A writing routine has to fit with your life and your responsibilities, and nobody else’s. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be challenging to work this out because I can share the process of development with you.

Finding Your Own Path

So, are you ready to find your writing routine and fit more writing into your life? If so, I am excited to tell you that I am making it easier than ever for you to do this.

There are three ways I can help you:

1:1 Coaching 

It’s Time to Write Your Novel – The Masterclass

And now…(launching 17th September!)

The Time to Write Workbook

For the price of a cup of coffee, I have created a workbook that will help you:

  1. Find time to write
  2. Create a writing routine that fits with YOUR schedule
  3. Identify writing areas you would like more information on
  4. Set and achieve writing goals

If you are ready for a taste of coaching and want to see a way forward in your creative life, this is the workbook for you.

Here’s what Emma had to say:

‘Love the layout, very visual. It’s really useful, and I love how everything is broken down, so you’re not so overwhelmed with the task at hand.’

Here’s what Hannah had to say:

‘This workbook is a great place to start. Knowing what my Creative Data is and using that to structure my time has been eye-opening. There’s real value in providing a structure that makes the seemingly huge (and very intimidating) task of sitting down to write achievable.”

As a writing coach trained by an ICF accredited company with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing, you can trust that this book has been created carefully, using tried and true coaching practices informed by writing knowledge.

So, stay tuned. I will send you an email when it’s launched, and I cannot wait to share this with you! 

Are you looking for a similar read?

Check out:
Reasons Not To Write Every Day
The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Writing Routine
3 Ways to Hold Yourself Accountable (Writing Edition)

Categories
Uncategorized Craft

3 Things I Did To Level Up My Writing Game

Are you looking to level up? Me too! I’m always looking for a new way to improve my writing, process, research, and more.

If you are ready to raise your game, read on for the three things that I did to take me from ‘barely writing’ to ‘novel completed’.

1) Writing Courses. 

I cannot overstate how much creative writing classes help with writing. You don’t just learn about the craft, and the bare bones of the work, but you understand how vital writing is. That, for me, is the most important lesson of all. Whether this is your hobby, your passion, your side hustle, your ambition – whichever label writing has in your life, investing in it makes it more important. It makes you work harder on it, and it moves the act of writing up your list of priorities.

Because I know how valuable creative writing classes are to me, I wanted to make sure that I offered something similar to other writers. That’s why I created my Novel Writing Masterclass: It’s Time to Write Your Novel. From years of teaching and lecturing in Creative Writing in the classroom and at university, I created this programme to be a one-stop shop for all who want to write a novel. It goes through finding the time, discovering the idea, writing, publishing, and more. I made the classes bite-size to fit into a busy schedule, and it’s packed with fun tasks and worksheets that can help you become the writer you want to be.

If you don’t feel ready to invest in a writing course, you can invest in other ways. I have created the It’s Time to Write Workbook for this very reason – for the price of a cup of coffee, you can invest in your writing process. This workbook launches on 17th September and will take you through the process of:

  1. Finding the time to write 
  2. Creating a writing routine that fits with YOUR schedule
  3. Identifying writing areas you would like more information on
  4. Learning how to set and achieve writing goals

If you are ready for a taste of coaching and want to see a way forward in your creative life, this is the workbook for you.

Here’s what Emma had to say:

‘Love the layout, very visual. It’s really useful, and I love how everything is broken down, so you’re not so overwhelmed with the task at hand.’

Here’s what Hannah had to say:

‘This workbook is a great place to start. Knowing what my Creative Data is and using that to structure my time has been eye-opening. There’s real value in providing a structure that makes the seemingly huge (and very intimidating) task of sitting down to write achievable.”

As a writing coach trained by an ICF accredited company with a PhD, MA and BA in Creative Writing, you can trust that this book has been created carefully, using tried and true coaching practices informed by writing knowledge.

2) Community.

Being a part of a community of writers has driven me to do better, write more, and keep going. From the classroom to Instagram, to the small group I run on Facebook (if you are interested in joining, search ‘It’s Time to Write Your Novel’ in groups and request!), a writing community and shared experience helps everyone level up.

3) Reading. 

To be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader. The more you read, the more you learn about grammar, plot, characterisation, what you enjoy, what you don’t like, and just plain everything to do with writing. It is the most valuable thing a writer can do to improve their writing. I find it really helps to set a number of books to read in one year, and work toward that. This year, I am trying to read forty. I’m on track so far!

What has helped you level up as a writer? 

Are you looking for similar reads? Check out the following.

The Reset Week – Investigate Your Writing Process
How to Harness Your Writing Motivation