ROBERTA: Today Jungle Red Writers is delighted to welcome special guest Jill Crossland who comes to us from Alberta, Canada. Jill is a life and business coach with a particular interest in the issues of women over forty. (She is also a fellow Australian shepherd lover!) We thought Jill would have interesting insights and suggestions for writers in this publishing climate--and nonwriters too! Welcome Jill!
Before we launch into questions, please tell us a little about life coaching--what you actually do, how you're trained, and what kinds of folks seek your help.
JILL: Thank you, Roberta for inviting me to be a part of your blog. By the way I love the name.
To answer your question, coaching is about helping people with a situation that is taking place in the here and now. Coaches help their clients to be motivated, think through strategies and find solutions. The women that come to me are usually looking for guidance as they move to the next level in their life or business. My decision to become a Life Coach evolved from my own midlife transition. I trained through Coachville and am a member of the IAC (International association of Coaches). A coach also brings her résumé to the table. I have a well rounded professional and volunteer history behind me.
ROBERTA: As I'm sure you're well aware, getting and staying published in this market is difficult and stressful. How might you approach helping a writer who is feeling overwhelmed and discouraged?
JILL: First, make sure that your work space is conducive to the creative process. If your desk is cluttered with household bills and a couple of rejection letters this is going to compound those negative feelings. Your office should be all about you and the book, nothing else. Then create a team, if a weekly house cleaner or baby sitter gives you the time that you need to write then they are worth the money. Stay away from the naysayers; make sure that all the people that you connect with are supportive. You may love your best friend but if she is saying “maybe you should go back to work” keep your distance until your confidence is back. Also seek out other writers, as they understand what you are going through.
ROBERTA: Let's talk a little about writers block and procrastination. How might you go about helping a writer who's stuck?
JILL: I think that there is a tendency to retreat when one is stuck, when in fact taking a break from the typewriter or laptop and going out into the world is probably the better direction. Stimulate ‘those little grey cells’ by sitting in a busy cafe, doing something else creative, take a drive or go see a movie. If you do prefer to stay in your office, find a way to re-connect with the subject matter or characters – perhaps by re-reading your original outline. Remember where you where when the first seed of the book started to grow, how you felt and more importantly why you wanted to write this particular book. Then don’t censure yourself; just let words pour out unedited or perhaps stimulate your thought process by using a different writing method such as pen and pad or tape recorder.
Procrastination often stems from fear and that fear is rooted in the big picture of the end product. “What if I cannot find a publisher” or “Maybe no one will read my book”. Realistically those issues will be dealt with at the right time. For now stay in the present; set daily goals to help overcome those thoughts. Go into your office with a specific intention; “Today I want to have Harry tell Veronica the truth about………….” or “I will finish working on the research I need for chapter 10”. These things are doable and will keep the work flowing.
For self-motivation it is important to create a realistic schedule with your needs written in. Even if some days are exceptionally busy, giving yourself one hour to write is better than nothing.
ROBERTA: I noticed that you called your midlife a transition not a crisis; could you talk a little about the special challenges and opportunities that women in midlife face?
JILL: I think that the word crisis has such a negative connotation and while midlife can be a difficult time, women inevitably come through it stronger and more defined. We not only overcome the physical changes but mental and even spiritual ones. For many women one of the biggest challenges is the loss or redefining of their roles and subsequently getting to know ourselves again. Luckily though as this is not our mother’s midlife; there are many opportunities to transcend ourselves through travel, starting a business or following a passion, such as writing!
ROBERTA: What would you say to a new writer?
JILL: Dream big but think realistically; it is normal and healthy to visualize your name & book title on a best seller list but keep your feet on the ground.
When one has created something there is always an emotional attachment and I think new writers need to remember that there is going to be a practical business side to getting published. They will have to make some tough decisions. Be pro-active from day one. Start by asking yourself “Who is my reader?” Think about reaching them through the virtual world. Create a blog or website to give you and your book a presence, look for virtual book clubs, submitted excerpts to relevant online publications, meet groups through Skype and tele-conferencing, there are limitless ways to gain publicity. Lastly don’t overlook where you live for networking opportunities. It is not the same as being signed by Random House but it is a start.
Roberta: Thanks for stopping in to JRW, Jill. I'm going to start today on that "stay in the present" thing!