Scholarship winner of 2014 San Francisco Writers For Change Conference
One of the best lessons I learned as a newbie reporter was to submit my work to editing before I ever wrote a word. My city editor at the time used to snag us as we hurried back in from being on assignment before we could get to our desk.
"What's the point of your story?" he'd drawl.
I quickly learned to use the drive to collect my thoughts and organize my story knowing he'd be waiting when I got back. I also learned what he expected as an answer. In less than 30 seconds he expected me to rattle off what the point of the story was, what would be the top, middle and bottom and how long the story would be when I finished. Some reporters never got it. They'd go on and on about all they learned while reporting as the tell-tale vein on the city editor's bald head would bulge, the toothpick in his mouth would spin as his teeth ground down, and his eyes would droop into a hooded mast, like sails with no wind. Finally he'd wave a hand.
"Shut up," he'd say. "I asked you what the point of the story was, not every note in that damn notepad of yours. Now tell, precisely what ... is... the ... point... of ... your... story."
It could be nerve-wracking, particularly if I hadn't taken the time to sort it out in my mind. But I learned this rigorous mental editing would be the best predictor of the eventual clarity, strength and effectiveness of the story. It's a technique I still use more often that not, and the poor results show on those "not" times when I skip the step.
In writing there are no skipped steps. It's beautiful, creative, inspiring and artistic. It's worthy of our best efforts. But it is also a lot like the work I did as a landscaper laying sprinkler pipe: long slogs of hard work digging dirt out putting pipe in, gluing pipe and covering it back up. Skip any step and serious, expensive problems would arise soon enough. Writing is like that. Long hard slogs with no skipped steps that achieve something pretty wonderful when completed. As a writing coach, I help you learn these and many other steps I learned along the way. I stop you in your haste and help you do the work and cheer you on when it bogs down and sift your prose for the gems within until it all comes together in, as the masterful book by Strunk and White says, a vigorous, concise, story well told.
I evalute the current state of your project and help create an action plan for moving it toward completion. In a 30-minute consultation, we discuss your writing goals and find the best path forward. I send you a written assessment of your projects strengths, weaknesses and give recommendations for attainable outcomes. Three-four hours total time commitment.
Years ago I learned two things: 1) Everybody needs an editor, and 2) truly few people write alone. I routinely seek out help early and often. I pay for editors just as people pay me. These consultations have been my most critical investments in my projects. It's a service I like to pass on to others. Send me your proposal or first chapters or whatever you have in rough draft form and I'll give you an honest evaluation that includes bad habits, technical problems, plot breakdowns, structure issues, character development and more.
I go through your project with a fine-tooth comb to root out errors, rid cliches, fix typos and wrangle out unecessary words. At the end I offer a summation of ongoing areas of concern with clear steps toward correcting them.
I am glad to discover your unique voice and translate that into whatever work you need from a winning book proposal to an autobiography to blog posts for your web site. I take your words and translate them to a page in a way that is authentically you and professionally delivered.
Why is it we only have personal trainers for our bodies? I adopt the same model for regular sessions (in person, via technology and phone as needed) that bolster your mental muscle memory and hone your writing talent.
Free initial consultation:
Any coaching relationship is just that, a relationship. I need to be a good fit for you and you need to be someone I truly believe I can help. A bad match not only wastes time and money, but it can bog down the momentum on a good project. I offer a free initial consultation where we both assess whether this is a good pairing. Simply click here to our contact page and tell me a little about yourself and your writing goal. We can then schedule a phone consultation absolutely free.
My hourly rate is just $90 an hour or $400 a day. I accept clients for as few as two hours. I accept paypal for payments. A lot can happen in two hours and it can set the stage for even better things to come. No matter how many hours you want, we use them doing the things you want done first. You pick what you want because it's your project after all. My discounted rate of $60 an hour is for those retaining my ongoing services for 10 hours or more or a designated monthly amount.
For those wanting a specific task from start to finish, we will work up a bid proposal prior to starting the job so you know exactly what you are paying ahead of time. No surprises.
Money back assurance. Should a client not be pleased with the service I provide, I try to suggest resolutions that will solve the problem. If no resolution can be found, I will refund you half your money without question or delay and we can both go our own way in peace.
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