We had a guest speaker yesterday, the author Linda Cracknell whose blog is here. Linda was accompanied by Philippa Johnston the Director of Literaturetraining, an online one stop shop offering a wealth of information and resources for writers.
It was a three hour session designed to get us thinking about our goals as writers, what we want to accomplish, where we want to be after graduating, in three years, in five years and crucially, how we are going to accomplish such lofty goals. Linda Cracknell took us through her journey from a standing start to where she is now. I was impressed that a published author took the time to speak to us honestly about making the decision to be a writer, the research and the subsequent steps she took including reducing her income in order to make this happen.
The session identified four key coaching based activities for us to do:
1. Make a schematic plan of our back journey as writers finishing with where we are today
2. Write down our main goal/s
3. Identify four ‘compass’ points we need to balance and work on in order to achieve our goals
4. Write down our ‘bottom line’ principles. For example my main bottom line life principle is that I will not take on a full time, responsible and well paying job because I know I will allow myself to become that person instead of the writer I am working on being. Linda Cracknell had about six of these guiding principles, again very interesting to see someone further down the process I am going through.
I should probably own up to not doing these exercises in class. I think about my goals as a writer and for my life in general every day and while I believe very strongly in the coaching process when it is done right, I personally see no benefit and have no interest in group coaching activities. I think it is a personal process. Having said that, overhearing some of my colleagues talk about their experience of the same problems and challenges I am going through made me feel slightly less nuts and far less isolated. Linda also talked about the benefit and value she receives from being part of a writers group. This again has never held any appeal for me having always preferred the one on one mentor route. We are extremely fortunate to have mentoring with Sam and David as part of our course, yet I find myself wondering if I am being short-sighted and have closed myself off to other help and input. Hmmm…
It was also useful to see how Linda had made use of grants and bodies, writer-in-residence fellowships and teaching. I have never considered any of these, always seeing myself, my writing, my agent and my publisher. On relection I can see that this is not only naïve but an incomplete and squint representation of the vision I have of myself as a writer. I came away from the session with a lot of new things to think about, for which I am really grateful.