One-on-one mentoring to help your light shine through your writing.
Looking for support for your writing?
As a writing coach, I am enthusiastic about assisting writers find their confidence and achieve their writing goals. I believe that everyone who wants to can write. Unfortunately, many people have had their writing or process criticized in ways that make writing harder, not better. If you want to write but struggle, procrastinate, or give up, my trauma-informed approach may help you get your writing flowing again. Together we will work to create safety around writing and integrate any blocks you may be experiencing. Once safety and your own agency are established, we will work as a team to plan, implement, and complete your writing project.
Are you curious about what keeps you from making progress and completing your writing project? Many people have experienced writing instruction that actually made it harder for them to express themselves on the page. Writing is often a source of shame, guilt, and trauma for folks because it is so often taught and approached in an authoritarian, right/wrong kind of way. You may remember how you felt when you got back a piece of writing you had worked hard on, and it was full of red marks and marginalia to the tune of “So what?” or some other remark that implies that you have failed to “do it right.” The hurt of having your work criticized (without attention to what is working well) may spur some people to try harder, but for many of us, it can get in the way. I offer compassionate, empowering, trauma-informed support for writing projects, support that sees writers as people who have something to say. Together we can work to let your voice and light shine through your writing.
A trauma-informed approach entails seeing others as full-fledged human beings, people just like me. Everyone has experienced unfairness, unreasonable expectations, and painful interactions, even if they haven’t been physically attacked or have symptoms of PTSD. When I say that my approach to supporting writers is trauma-informed, I mean that it is humane and respectful. I strive to honor the will, timing, feelings, goals, and unique humanness of those I work with. Our work together is based on acceptance of ourselves and each other, just exactly as we are right now.
Through my many years helping writers, I have come to believe that when you are stuck it is for a good reason. There is something there, behind the frustrating experience of not being able to keep going, something that wants your attention. When we learn to see stuckness as a call to dive right down into whatever is holding us back—with the protection of curiosity to keep us safe in the dark places—we can discover and bring back treasure. Our “blocks” can turn into useful gifts, enriching our writing.
While I often work with writers who have experienced trauma, I am not a therapist. My supportive strategies can help you identify ways you may be holding yourself back from writing, and even release them; however, writing support is not a substitute for work with a qualified therapist. If our work on your writing brings up unprocessed traumatic experiences or overwhelming emotions, you may elect to work with a therapist concurrently or take a break from writing coaching.
Crafting a healthy writing practice
Contrary to popular opinion, writing is hard work for nearly everyone. Even very successful writers have to work at their craft—the finished text doesn’t just spring from their pen or keyboard. A lot of advice for writers focuses on developing discipline. However, while writers do need to develop and maintain discipline around their writing, when we push exclusively on the discipline side of writing, it can become a grim task. We also need to kindle curiosity, enthusiasm, and playfulness around writing. In my work with writers, we work to balance healthy discipline with liberating fun and delight. In a series of individual sessions, I help you create a writing practice that works for you.
Discovering your writing voice(s)
Who speaks through your writing? How do you allow you to shine through? Many writers try to squeeze what they have to say into grammatical forms and vocabulary that fit them like a straitjacket. If you are haunted by images of red ink all over your writing, you may find yourself working too hard to conform to someone else’s notions of “good” text. You won’t get me to say that grammar doesn’t matter—it does. If language were not lawful, we couldn’t communicate with each other at all. But language is wide, and deep, and full of possibilities. It is important not to let “rules” cramp your style. By taking a more playful approach, you can loosen the grip of that bully who covered your writing with bloody scratches and wounding rhetorical questions (like “Who cares?”). Together we will remember how to use language playfully, setting your ideas free from limiting beliefs about “good English.” Through our work together, you can discover a sense of freedom in your writing and still write clearly and well.
Cultivating audience awareness
Who are you writing to? Connecting with your audience is essential to successful writing, and identifying your audience for a given piece is the first step. When you know who you are writing to, you already know a lot about what to say and how to say it. By paying attention to audience awareness, we can make your writing relatable and effective.
With my background in language teaching and linguistics, I can be particularly helpful to writers for whom English is not their first language.
“Sandra’s expertise and compassion are so needed!”