Get Feedback On Your Writing

Working with a writing coach can make you a better writer

Writing coach Jamie Morris shares her experience with new writers.

Hiring a writing coach is the single-most important pivot of my writing career to date. Writing is heart-work for me, as much as it is employment, and I can’t imagine my life without it. So, when my fiction stalled and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, quitting wasn’t an option.

I found Jamie through a google search after writer Ryan Van Cleve wrote about his work with her. I visited her website, filled out a contact form, and within minutes she and I were talking. Jamie said the first thing we needed to find out was how well we work together and what kind of writing help I needed.

I like to say that in those days, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.” Just answering her question was difficult because I wasn’t sure why my stories weren’t working. She quickly homed in on the issue: I was clueless when it came to plot (she said this gently) and my stories fell apart because they weren’t structured, paced, or developed.

The rest is ourstory: Jamie and I have worked together for over three years as coach and client and co-authored a book together with Joyce Sweeney. She is my dear friend as well as my book-confidant and it was an honor to interview her for the podcast.

Get feedback on your writing

Another benefit to having a writing coach is that it’s a source of feedback for your writing. One of the most frequent mistakes I see aspiring writers make is remaining isolated. Writing is already solitary, which brings its own emotional challenges. But when we allow our work to remain in an echo-chamber of our own thoughts and perspectives, we miss out on skill-honing suggestions and insight readers, editors, and coaches can offer.

Jamie and I discussed the need for feedback in the episode and I extended that content in the Companion Guide that pairs with our interview:

All episodes are paired with a Companion Guide, available on Amazon and linked below.

The ebook also includes helpful tips for what to do when you receive harmful or unsolicited advice and feedback on your writing.

Write As a Team

Collaboration empowers success

The Little Quotes by Little Folks editorial team

The fourth episode of The Working Writer Podcast includes an episode with the team behind Little Quotes by Little Folks, of which I’m a part. It’s an episode that gathers the culmination of years of learning to collaborate and shares how a digital team came together to create a real book. 

When I hold our book in my hands, I feel the gravity of how none of us are alone, not even as creatives stowed away in our private silos. Collaboration is a clear and viable path to success. Corporations know this, and they forge ahead with agile software and collaborative platforms that empower teams to work together. Why not the solo creative and working writer? 

Write as a Team

Making a book from the ground up through publication and distribution can seem like a daunting task by yourself. Doing it alone isn’t necessary, and –– this might surprise those new to self-publishing –– it isn’t recommended, either. 

In the traditional model, the writer writes—the editor edits. The designer lays it out. The publisher publishes. The marketer advertises. Self-publishing does cluster many of these roles under the same hat, eliminating the gate-keepers and opening access. To the seasoned, experienced multi-expert, this is excellent news. More control equals more power! 

To the artist who wants the result but is overwhelmed by that many tasks––or doesn’t shine at all of them–– it can be paralyzing. How can you do it all? 

The answer is, don’t do it all yourself. Collaborate to write and make books as a team.

Collaboration defined: to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something.

Hit Record was our creative playground

I rediscovered a spirit of play and experimentation on Hit Record. Hit Record provides artists a platform to throw ideas and art on the wall and see what sticks. Writing, visual art, photography, acting, music, and even idea-generation and brainstorming challenges are posted and anyone can participate in anything. The contributions are called “records.”

You join the site, pick a challenge, and post your contribution. Then, other artists choose multiple records and mash them together. This “remix” results in a new record with sources. On and on, this process snowballs towards the creation of significant projects, including Emmy-award winning TV shows, web series, commercials, music albums, books, and short films. 

When the end product makes money, Hit Record pays and credits every contributor. This kind of opportunity enthralled me, and I felt excited to have a chance to contribute to projects of such size and prestige. I’d never had such access on my own and it was exciting to see where it led. It was so inspiring and creatively invigorating.

Little Quotes by Little Folks is an independent spin-off project; we’re all Hit Record alums. It’s a collection of the profound, funny, and downright absurd things kids say, illustrated, and published as a hardcover book. The four of us wanted to make a book, and we had the collective skills + collaboration experience to do it. The interview shares how that process worked. 

We recorded this episode right before the book launched in November 2020. We’ve now seen our book is a success! We shared what we learned from the experience and each other as we made a book as a team. 

Write As a Team: The Companion Guide that pairs with this episode

The Working Writer Podcast is an episode and ebook series. This is Book 4

Included in the ebook is Ten Tips for Writing Teams

I mention in the book that one of my Hit Record contributions was included in the Emmy-award winning You Tube Original Create Together. It’s so fun that they sent certificates to everyone! I geek out every time I look at mine!

My Emmy certificate for Create Together

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romance author sara celi on the working writer podcast

Make time to write

Best-selling romance author Sara Celi on word count, writing sprints and building an author career with intention

Romance author Sara Celi shares her tips to help you make time to write.

The most valuable writing advice I’ve ever received wasn’t about writing at all; it was about time management. Cal Newport’s Deep Work taught me more about how to make time to write than anything on craft, and was a game-changer in my writing career because by getting intentional about my goals, time, and targets, I had more to show for the same time spent.

It’s less dreamy and more productive than romantic thought on being a writer, but there it is. I had a choice: either spend my life wandering in the wilderness making love to my favorite idea-of-the-moment or get down to business about what I really want from a writing career.

The nexus of dreams and strategic planning was the primary topic of conversation with best-selling romance author Sara Celi. She’s dedicated to the core about getting her word count down, but she’s also mindful of the big picture of her author career, the next book, her target reader, and peripheral issues like marketing.

Without your dedication, real-life will drain your writing time. Sometimes, that’s okay.

Sara and I quickly got into “real talk” about what it looks like to make time to write and build an author career while facing challenges in our lives. Sara experienced the Moore Tornado in 2013 and last year, her baby was born three months early. Both of these events are important markers in her author-journey. Listen to our conversation to find out why.

Other topics covered in the interview:

  • writing in a genre
  • writing to market
  • marketing for authors
  • newsletters
  • social media
  • infant loss
  • what a typical day looks like for a full-time romance author.

Make Time to Write: The Companion Guide to this episode

As usual, there is much more content on these subjects that can fit into an hour-long podcast. That bonus material feeds the Companion Guide eBook (every episode is paired with a Guide). Make Time To Write is available on Amazon for just .99 and it’s a quick-but-applicable guide to time management and strategic planning for authors.

We may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, through programs including, but not limited to the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and get real value from it, whether you listen, watch or read. If you do, please subscribe and leave a review.

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Copywriting can pay your bills

Career evolution, creative blocks and copywriters: The Copy Cats

Episode 2 of The Working Writer Podcast features a team of corporate copywriters.

It’s writing lingo that applies more to fiction writers than copywriters but as a concept, it can apply to any creative project: pansting versus planning.

Pantsing is when you write by the seat of your pants –– you don’t know the twists and turns your story will take until you’re actively writing. The contrast of a pantser is a planner, someone who carefully outlines and every twist and turn ahead of time. In between are the hybrids, the writers who start with a loose plan they allow to evolve –– through pantsing –– while they write the draft.

I’m a hybrid. I had a topic and a high-level outline for this second episode of The Working Writer podcast. The interview this time was not with a single writer but a whole team of them: the corporate copywriters I most recently worked with at place we called “the company.”

Because corporate copywriting can be full-time and lucrative, it’s a fantastic way for a working writer to pay their bills with words. The team shared how their careers evolved into copywriting, how to find corporate copywriting jobs, and some of the tests and challenges writers on marketing teams face as they work with designers, managers and stakeholders.

What there’s no time for in a corporate setting is a creative block. So while “writer’s block” comes along for the ride for any creative, it needs a quick fix when writing is your day job. There’s not time to sit staring at a blank screen, stumped and depressed.

I thought I had the content on copywriting and creative blocks all planned out.

I sat down to write the Companion Guide eBook on writer’s block with a plan. These eBooks pair with the podcast episode in a complimentary way; each can be stand-alone –– or listeners can get the guide (less than a buck on Amazon) and further explore the topic. Every book comes with a fun “prize inside.”

You know what they say about the best laid plans…

As I researched and wrote, there quite a few surprises.

SFDs: Anne Lamott’s gift to writers

The twists and turns I discovered while working on this episode and eBook led me to a surprising place: trauma. Even though I write about trauma often, I hadn’t related it to writing and creative blocks. I won’t give it all away here (get the book!) but I will say that what I learned helped me accomplish the very thing I was doing: creating a podcast.

It’s like a cannibalistic nesting doll: a creative project explores creative blocks and in so doing, discovers the key to accomplishing the creative project in the first place.

Copywriting Interview with The Copy Cats

Amakeda, Tyler, Skyler, and Lora are all career professional working writers.

It might surprise you that:

  • None of us started out as corporate copywriters. We evolved into it
  • We were hired by a recruiter
  • Job descriptions don’t always match what the actual task load ends up to be
  • “Copywriting” is a general term that can cover several more specific distinctions
  • Being a copywriter can make you a better writer of anything, including fiction
  • Statistics show the majority of copywriters have something else in common. My proof is in this ebook.

Resources to help you Overcome Creative Blocks:

What the NIH says about Understanding Trauma

Plotting Your Novel with the Plot Clock

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman 

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

My standing desk 

The Companion Guide to this episode: Overcome Creative Blocks

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Make Writing Your Job

The pilot episode and Companion Guide eBook are live

A pilot for the Pilot! So stoked to kick this off with a friend.

I’m starting by answering the questions I’m asked the most as an experienced professional writer: how you can make writing your job.

People ask me this when they’re out of work, when they’re under-employed or unhappily employed. They ask me when they imagine the working writer’s life is romantic and full of freedom.

Sleep in! Set your own hours! Be your own boss!

Spoiler alert: none of those are true.

Okay, maybe I set my own hours. But that means no sleeping in. And the client or project is always my boss. My co-workers have been fellow writers and creative marketers… and also cats and dogs. The gig changes. The mindset does not.

The podcast audio and video are one piece of this project. The other is the Companion Guide, the eBook that will further expound on the show topic, in more depth than a podcast episode can allow. The reason for this is two fold:

  1. I want to keep the episode fun and interview-dominant and,
  2. The books aren’t free.
The first rule of being a Working Writer is “Don’t work for free.”

It’s been an intense process to get this project up and running. I wouldn’t call it a harrowing climb though. I’ve had so much encouragement and support along the way and it’s always fun learning new skills. That said, I’m relieved to hit publish on everything and get this party started.

Non-writing friends will save you from the Cliffs of Insanity.

I invited (well, she eagerly volunteered) one my oldest friends, a non-writer (with the heart and soul of one tho) and pilot, Melody Blythe. Melody and I go way, way back. We grew up in the orchestra of one of the largest megachurches in America in the late 80s.

This meant we saw each other six days a week together and twice on Sunday. We spent our spring, summer, and winter breaks witnessing to what Baptists call “lost people” and telling them about Jesus. We spent evenings performing gospel concerts. Melody and I grew up musically privileged, spiritually trained (some would call it brainwashed), and relationally close.

When you grow up in a youth group of four-hundred, with fundamentalist teachings framing your ordinary teenage development, you develop a kind of kindred bond that carries long into adulthood. Melody and I got married at the same time, had children at the same time, left abusive marriages at about the same time, and reconstructed our lives still friends. She’s one of a few people who will always understand where I came from and why I’m “me.”

Melody is a pilot, a property appraiser and a mom to a special needs son. Her sense of memory more than doubles mine, as does her sunny “brush yourself off and try again” spirit. She’s good at math and strategy. Don’t miss her wisdom on pockets and swim lanes.

For fun, I’m including a few photos of those years down below. If you want to follow my work on religious trauma, you can do so on my website or on Instagram: @tialindstromwriter.

Resources to Make Writing Your Job

This episode includes several valuable resources I either used along the way or still use today in my working writer life.

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard 

The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman 

Writer’s Digest Magazine 

Michael Anderle of 20Booksto50k Talk on Indie Publishing on Amazon

My standing desk

The Companion Guide for this episode: Make Writing Your Job.

The interview was a lot of fun and incredibly spirit-bolstering. The marrow of how to make writing your job is in the eBook.

Growing up in a Baptist Mega Church

This is not a great photo because it’s a screenshot of a video from one of our high school performances. It also cuts off the left and right, as well as the majority of the orchestra, seated in front of the choir. Our youth group was between 350 and 400.
That’s me in the middle, in 1991. We’re wearing our teal performance dresses, a definite improvement from the previous mauve. The sleeves were puffed! I played in the orchestra at First Baptist for about fifteen years, from junior high until my mid-twenties. Our church had two full-sized adult orchestras.
That’s Melody in front with her eyes closed. She’d say she was being a dork. We all look pretty dorky. This is pre-concert shenanigans in our rehearsal room. The two photo bombers in the back are playing to type.
This is what our wild and crazy spring breaks looked like. Days spent carrying our bibles and witnessing in neighborhoods, nights spent in concert. Boys were allowed to touch each other, girls were allowed to touch each other, boys and girls were not. This photo is the perfect time capsule of the fundie-megachurch lifestyle. We were good kids headed for a lifetime of sorting a lot of those ideas out.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and get real value from it, whether you listen, watch or read. If you do, please leave a review.

The Working Writer Podcast on YouTube

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Anchor distributes podcasts everywhere. Look for the show wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts.

I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post, through programs including, but not limited to the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program.

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The Working Writer Video Series

The Working Writer Podcast is also on YouTube

Start a podcast, they said! It’ll be fun, they said! Put the episodes up on YouTube, they said! Make The Working Writer Podcast a video series, they said!

Turns out, they were right.

From a production standpoint, there’s quite a bit more effort in making videos. I could record a podcast in pajamas or on bad-hair days and I’m sure many podcasters do. (I’ve seen quite a few record videos that way too but eeeeek! Dress for the job you want, people!).

Video means a camera (and subsequent USB scarcity issue). It means preparing guests who might be going gangbusters about being on a podcast but hesitating about being on camera. And YouTube is a different ballgame as far as platforms go.

But there’s some solid overlap too. For instance, I record on a video call, which results in both audio and video file formats. Two files for the price of one, so to speak. My editing software is video, exported in two formats, so again, I’m getting two products for the same amount of effort as one.

Deciding to do both The Working Writer Podcast as a video and audio series increases the ad revenue potential. It also increases the audience reach. People have favorite platforms and favorite ways of consuming content. It makes sense to go where they are. In this vein, I guess it’s fair to say that print options are also on the list because The Working Writer Podcast Companion Guides will include show content, in addition to tons of content that couldn’t fit into the episode.

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The Working Writer Podcast

Look for the pilot episode December of 2020!

The series is underway! I’m so excited to see the universe continually open up for this project. When I decided to start a podcast, I had some experience on the backend. I understood how much work would go into it. But, work that meets resistance (ideas, resources, confidence) is MUCH harder than work like this! It’s been nothing but green lights, baby!

Look for episodes anywhere you listen to podcasts or on YouTube, if video is more your style.

It’s pretty thrilling, if I’m honest. Putting this together is exercising all my skillsets and stretching me in other ways. For instance, I know how to write well on the fly and brainstorm lists of topics (there’s no shortage of material here). But, I’m less experienced behind the camera and microphone. I was a wee bit intimidated to ask for my first interviews but that was like jumping into a cold ocean on a hot day: it only hurts for a second! Then, REFRESHING!

Seriously, it’s going to rock to have conversations with so many people I admire on topics that I love so well I’d discuss all day, every day.

The Working Writer Podcast’s Guide to…..

The aspect of the podcast I’m ooey-gooey in the middle about is the companion ebooks I’m writing to go with every episode. Even though these episodes are hitting around the hour mark, which is in-step with the kind of podcasts I most often listen to, there’s way more material for every topic I want to capture somewhere.

This is how-to, hands-on, actionable content that will be of real value to anyone striving to be or become a working writer. These books also make great use of the show content and hit a goal that every working writer should be working on anyway: catalog expansion.

And you know what else? They’re not for free. That small price tag on each Companion Guide keeps me from breaking the golden rule of Working Writers: Don’t work for free. That’s called volunteering and that’s another topic entirely. Volunteering certainly has a beloved place in the world, even in the writing world, but it doesn’t pay the bills. The content is valuable and it’s worth more than the price I’m asking, making this win-win a part of my contract with the muse.

I saved the BEST FOR LAST about what thrills me most about The Working Writer Podcast. So far I’ve recorded five of the first 20 episodes I have planned, two of them with collaborative writing teams. I can already tell my hunch was right: this labor of love is my way to give back to the writing community, and a chance to highlight and promote the work of my fellow writers. None of us get anywhere on our own and I’m honored to be building something that is finally going to help me, help others.

Can you do me a small favor? Can you go subscribe and follow my accounts right now? Believe it or not, that super-quick-click has big impacts for new podcasters. It’ll take less than ten seconds, promise: follow Working Writer Podcast on Instagram and subscribe to the channel on YouTube. Please and thank you, you’re the best!