COACHING

For many years now, I've offered coaching to published authors. I still do so--but on a very limited basis now.

I don't name names, though I am always grateful when clients pass the word to others about my work.

If you are interested, please contact me via email april.kihlstrom@gmail.com.

If I don't feel I can be of help, I say so before the person ever pays a penny.

My goal is to give you tools so you can use and adapt them whenever new challenges crop up in a way that writing enriches your life and you still get to do the things that matter most to you.

I am a big believer that our brains work best when we are feeling good about ourselves and believe in what we can do and when we are having fun.

Because I cannot coach everyone, I share some of what I use in my coaching in hopes it will be of use to my fellow writers.

To start, here are some of my thoughts about the process of being a writer and how we might feel looking around at other writers. I'm sharing it because writing, as a career, is challenging. It's constantly changing, there are so many elements we must think about even beyond the writing itself including whether to go with a major publisher, a small publisher, self-publish or do a combination of both. We have to juggle our busy lives with our writing and with marketing and even with publishing the book itself if we self-publish, etc. It's far too easy to compare ourselves to other authors and wonder if we're doing it the "right way" or not. So . . . with that in mind, here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

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Every writer comes to writing in our own way. We are shaped both by our experiences and also by the stories we tell ourselves--especially stories we never think to stop and question. I wrestle with that myself, at times wondering: Why do I block myself from taking certain steps I know would be wise from a financial and career perspective? What are the stories echoing at the back of my mind that stop me? Which ones do I want to challenge and which ones still feel important to me? What do I most want out of my career,  right now? 

I think the danger is in trying to justify--to ourself or others--wherever we are in our choices. What I've learned is that it serves me better to look at what I'm choosing and why without judgment. Just observe it and accept that this is where I am right now on things. I may or may not be here forever, in these choices--and to accept that's okay. 

I then begin to gently test some of the stories I hold in my head and heart--about myself and about my writing. I begin to ask myself: What if? What if I looked at it this way? What if I believed that? What if there's something my stories/beliefs are keeping me from seeing?

Doesn't mean I'll necessarily change any of those stories/beliefs--just giving myself the possibility that I could IF it looked like it would work better for me.

For each of us, our writing matters. WHY and HOW it does may vary among us--because we are all different people, shaped by different experiences and stories/beliefs.

Please be gentle with yourself! When people share what they are doing, it doesn't mean you have to change who you are or how you do things--just let yourself be open to the gift of new possibilities that may or may not fit with who and where you are in this moment with your work.

Even if there were one perfect way to do things--and there isn't!--it wouldn't mean you or I or anyone else would have to be at that place in this moment. We are all on our own writers' journey and as the writer Barbara Samuel has famously said: Who we are shapes our writing but our writing also shapes us. That means we are never standing still. We are always moving along the path, learning, growing if we are writing because it's an inevitable part of the process.

It's a gift we can give to ourselves and to our fellow authors to embrace the diversity of our writing journeys.

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I'm going to put some questions here to ask yourself that may help YOU figure out the answers you need. At the very least, it will be a starting point if you do contact me for coaching. Also, farther down the page see some of my suggestions for coping with the fear we writers so often feel about our writing.

QUESTIONS:

1) What brings you joy in life?

2) What do you love about writing?

3) What is your biggest challenge or road block when it comes to writing?

4) Brainstorm at least 3 possible solutions to question 3.

5) Repeat 3 and 4  if there are other major challenges or road blocks that get in the way of writing.

6) Brainstorm at least 3 ways to incorporate things you love and/or make you smile into EVERY writing day.

7) What do you love most about writing?

To help with the questions above, I'm going to list some suggestions I give all my coaching clients.

SUGGESTIONS:

1) I encourage everyone to make a list--as long a list as possible--of things that warm your heart and/or make you smile and EVERY DAY to do at least 3 to 5 things from that list. These may be things you already do but there is power in consciously choosing to do them as a gift to yourself. And on your worst days, do even more of the things from your list!

It's proof to yourself that no matter what, you have the power to--even if it's only for a moment--make yourself feel better and smile.

It also builds your emotional resilience so you can better cope with whatever challenges are going on in your life.

2) I encourage everyone to make a list--as long a list as possible--of successes you've had in your life.

You can pull it out and look at it any time you feel overwhelmed or as if you can't do something. It's evidence--proof!--to yourself that you CAN overcome challenges, you CAN do things. It may sound silly but it WILL help.

Note: I strongly suggest actually writing down both lists because the moments you need them most will be the precise moments it will be hardest for you to remember anything on either list. But mentally doing the exercise is certainly better than not doing it at all!



DEALING WITH FEAR OF WRITING:

In one form or another,Ialmost every writer I know deals with fear at some point in their writing life. It's what makes Book In A Week so powerful--you write as fast as you can NEVER looking back or rereading until the end of the week and/or ideally the end of the first draft. You don't get any feed back, you don't second guess yourself, it's a race to the finish line. It's out running your fear because fear is paralyzing. 

Ironically, the longer we write and the better writers we become, the more likely we are to be hit by this paralysis--because now we KNOW enough to spot our own flaws--or what FEEL like flaws in our writing. Here are some of the suggestions I often make when coaching fellow writers:

BEFORE sitting down to write:

1) Make your writing space comfortable--put things there that make you smile

2) Set up a reward for after you meet a goal--whatever that goal might be

3) Surround your writing area with evidence of ways you have succeeded in life (extra points if it's writing success but every success counts)

4) Set a timer and set it for five minutes less than the point at which you usually start to panic (this may take practice to figure out but you are, in essence, reprogramming your brain to associate success with writing)

When sitting down to write:

1) Close your eyes

2) Smile--literally smile it changes your emotional state

3) Remember the very best moment you've ever had writing--only when you clearly remember the feeling do you open your eyes and start to write

AFTER the first draft is done:

1) Set it aside for at least 24 to 48 hours

2) Go PLAY!!!

3) Reward yourself--the act of completing a book is something special and you want your brain to associate that with a reward

4) After 48 hours sit down and do a quick read through--as if it was a book you bought off the shelf and DO NOT MAKE ANY CHANGES!!!!! I can't stress that strongly enough. Keep reading! Make notes in a notebook of things you THINK you might want to change but keep reading. Why:
      a) You want to see the overall patterns
      b) You get to see the BEST of what you wrote and that will encourage you and give you goals for the rest. 
      c) You get a global overview which gives you a much better starting point for making changes that will work well for your book