The Big Bang Approach

July 30, 2009

Our colleague, writing teacher and coach Jill Dearman, is publishing “Bang the Keys,” her book on writing, in August. Recently, she published an excellent article in Writer’s Digest, “The Big Bang,” outlining four steps to completing your writing projects. She quoted Deborah on the necessity of getting all the support you can as a writer. You might want to check the article out on Jill’s Web site –  www.jilldearman.com – and while you are at it, you might want to check out her book as well!

And we hope to be interviewing Jill after  her book comes up, so keep an eye here for the most up to date word on Banging the Keys!


Who are We Writing For?

July 23, 2009
99 out of 100

99 out of 100

Posted by Deborah Atherton

All creative writers, no matter what their genre or area of interest, get a little caught up in the issue of how salable our ideas are. It’s a very tricky and emotional topic, and writers vary widely in their viewpoints. There are writers on one end of the spectrum who say, “I won’t write it unless someone will pay me for it!” And the writers who take the opposite position will tell you, “Money doesn’t influence me at all. I write for myself.”

Although both sides believe deeply in their position, I suspect that even the most successful commercial writer has limits to the tampering he or she will allow editors for the sake of sales. And however pure the intent of the artist who writes not for the audience, but for him or herself, I sincerely doubt that artist would turn down a check for the finished product.

Gail wrote a lovely children’s board book in response to a perceived market need. She went about it really intelligently, researching the market, finding the right prospective publishers, and soliciting one with a very satisfactory query letter. However, probably in the meantime, the publisher had put out a book on the same subject. This was Gail’s first professional submission, and even though she’d done absolutely everything right, it didn’t work out, and she naturally became discouraged.

The very difficult truth is that 99 out of 100 submissions to editors or agents are rejected, which may mean that you have to submit your work repeatedly before it is accepted. That’s a lot of “no thank yous” for our psyches to accept. It’s really really hard to have something you’ve worked on and know is good turned down for purely market reasons.

But because Gail is a good and committed writer, she may decide (with a little coaching!) not only to submit her book to more publishers, but to think about writing a new one – maybe one that comes first from her own passionate interests and ideas.


Collaborative Coaching to address Procrastination

July 13, 2009

Posted by Leslie Zeigler

In my last post I wrote about my sister Gail , who has been struggling for a long time with  her difficulty in getting her children’s book ideas edited and published.  As mentioned in my last post, she was feeling  frozen in fear that she would be perceived as a fool if  she risked  putting her ideas out there.   As I had written, I offered to work with her to hopefully help move her along.  In conversation with Deborah,  she too felt interested in collaborating with me to help Gail in this process.  In this way both Deborah’s expertise and mine could enhance the chances of Gail being able to get started to take positive actions towards her goal. When I let Gail know that Deborah, too, was on board to help her she felt so touched and excited.  Her first step was to email Deborah one of the children’s book ideas which she has written .

Upon receiving the feedback from Deborah, Gail reported to me how she felt so supported and encouraged that it was helping her to quiet her fears and begin to think about the suggestions that  Deborah had offered her.  Deborah encouraged Gail to send out her one book idea that was ready to go to another publisher, but to also consider creating a book idea that was based on her own most passionate interest (as her current book idea was based on what she thought would be easy to market).   This suggestion has  enabled  Gail to use her imagination and she already has several wonderful children’s book ideas floating  around in her head as yet not on paper.   And in addition to that,her whole feeling about herself as a creative person has been greatly enhanced  and is now moving in a more positive direction.

Another exciting turn of events has happened.   Gail has begun to experience some memories from childhood that she feels shed light on possible ways of understanding some of her current fears.  She remembers having taken both piano and dance  and sewing lessons as a child  but recalls always feeling helpless.  She remembered sewing a blouse and a skirt, but the seams were not straight, which upset her.  This memory has helped her arrive at the insight that she has taken this attitude of learned helplessness into her adult life.  She said, “instead of realizing if i just practice I can do some things, I gave up from the start.”   She added,  ” …there are my thoughts as we embark on this exciting adventure to overturn– years  of bad thinking patterns.”

So I too feel energized and excited  to begin this process to help her overcome her learned helplessness and begin to help  her to  quiet her fears and risk believing in her creative potential.  I feel we are off to a strong beginning.