Turning Readers Into Writers

063 - How to set writing goals with Heather Wright

May 20, 2021 Emma Dhesi Season 1 Episode 63
Turning Readers Into Writers
063 - How to set writing goals with Heather Wright
Show Notes Transcript

Heather Wright tells her students “not to feel defeated before you try” She started her writing life with short stories and then articles on how to write for teens.

Heather coaches a lot of teens, and I asked her about the difference between coaching teen writers and adult writers. 

Teenagers, she says, come to the writing table believing their writers. They come with lots of material and lots of ideas. They are willing to share their work, comments on other people's work and accept comments on their own work.

Adults, however, are far more reticent. They don't believe they are writers; they criticise their own work and or less willing to try new things or share their work, and even less willing to comment on other people's work. 

One of the roadblocks for new writers is the size of the project. It feels very overwhelming to write 50,000 plus words. To overcome this, Heather suggests creating many habits. 

This is a process by where you give yourself small goals, for example writing only 50 words at each writing session. 

That way it's much easier to achieve and when you do achieve it you leave the writing table feeling like a success because you achieved what you set out to achieve.

The other thing she says writers must have is forgiveness for themselves. Life gets in the way sometimes, things happen and if you don't get to write that day, so what? The world won't end and you can get back to it the next day, so don't be so hard on yourself. Forgive yourself.

As a writing coach Heather sees herself as the guide. She guides her student to write the book they want to write. Sometimes that takes a bit of digging and that's part of her role.

She works with writers at all stages of their book. Sometimes they come to her with an idea that they need to talk through and then go off and write the book. Some come to her with a manuscript and it needs tweaking and moulding before it goes off to an editor. 

We discussed the importance of having a mentor or a coach and how pivotal that can be to someone's success. 

Finally, Heather shares that she turned 70 last year but has taken up screenwriting. She had never thought to pursue this before but she says she's never been happier writing than she has been with her screenplays.

What that can teach you is that it's never too late to start writing. Creativity knows no age barrier.

Connect with Heather:

http://www.wrightingwords.com


Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/emmadhesi)
Emma Dhesi:

Hello, I'm Emma Dhesi and welcome to another episode of turning readers into writers. If you're brand new here, welcome. And here's what you need to know. This is a community that believes you are never too old to write your first novel, no matter what you've been up to until now, if you're ready to write your book, I'm ready to help you reach the end, I focus on helping you find the time and confidence to begin your writing journey, as well as the craft and skills you need to finish the book. Each week I interview debut authors, editors and industry experts to keep you motivated, inspired, and educated on all things writing, editing, and publishing. If you want to catch up, head on over to emmadhesi.com, where you'll find a wealth of information and tools to help you get started. Before we dive in, this week's episode is brought to you by my free cheat sheet 30 Top Tips to find time to write. In this guide, I give you 30 ways that you can find time to write in the small gaps that appear between the various errands and tasks and responsibilities that you have in your day to day life. Now, you might be thinking that you don't have any time to spare, but I can guarantee these top tips will give you writing time you didn't think you had if you thought writing always involved a pen and paper or a keyboard. Think again. If you thought you needed at least an hour at a time to write your manuscript. I help you reframe that you won't be disappointed. Get your free copy of 30 Top Tips to find time to write by going to Emmadhesi.com/30 Top Tips. Okay, let's dive in to today's episode. Heather Wright is a freelance writer writing about everything from orchids to wind turbines to weddings to PVC pipe. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario in Canada, where she taught English and communications for over 20 years. So she can analyze the odd novel and parse a sentence to she writes for the web for national and local publications. And for educational publishers and industry. Canadian society for children's authors, illustrators and performers, the American Society for children's book writers and illustrators, and the Canadian authors Association, Heather is a member of the wall. She says she couldn't imagine her life without writers, watching them become motivated and empowered and reading the great work they create. As a coach, she loves working one on one with writers of all ages, and her clients have ranged in age from 11 up to 90. When she's not writing, Heather loves red licorice, buttered popcorn, and chocolates. Although not altogether she ants. She loves music, old films, and she sings soprano in a choir. And when she's not doing all of this, she's learning to sing jazz. So let's find out a little bit more about Heather, her journey to writing and how she helps writers write their own first novel. Well, hi, Heather. And thank you so much for joining me today.

Heather Wright:

I'm so happy to be here. And I can't wait to to carry on what we're doing.

Emma Dhesi:

Yay. Well, I wonder if you could First we'll start off by telling our listeners a little bit about you your your kind of journey with writing and how you got to really, why know?

Heather Wright:

Amm my journey to writing started with Nancy Drew mysteries. I don't know if they have those in the UK. But they're mystery stories featuring a young protagonist. She always had a new car. And they were just for kids. They were they started writing them in the 30s. And they're still around today. And I thought that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be Carolyn Keene, I wanted to write mystery stories. And I did, and I wrote other things, none of which were worthy of anybody seeing I loved we had creative writing in high school. So I was really lucky that way. And then I kind of left it for a while studied, did all sorts of things that jobs worked and one day I thought this is silly, I really want to write so I would write and I started out with short stories and I had a couple of those published and then there was another long pause and then I had a baby and I don't know why that inspired me to think I had time to do this. But but that seemed to be the trigger. And I launched myself into writing historical romances joined a writing group evolved from there and then oh, things took a backseat again, I was teaching it's such a busy life and my students were writing I I always had them writing and I would write with them and one day, I just thought, you know, I've got to start, I try to model like, I mean, if they're gonna write, I'm gonna write and share if they want to hear it and I decided I would do and I got a gig doing articles for a magazine that was designed for young creatives. And I wrote an article every month on writing, how to write tips for writing, dialogue, beginnings, that sort of thing, things that I had taught for years, and I got halfway through my nanowrimo novel, and realize, that's not what I want to write, I want to write this, I want to write a book for teen writers, that gives them all the lessons that that I've learned over the years and some short cuts in some hands on things that they can do and I checked other writers, books, writing books for teens, I didn't see anything like the one I wanted to write so I wrote it and self published it and that was the first and I just kept going. A lot of my books are nonfiction. A lot of my books are to help writers, young writers, any writers. I've written some fiction, I've had some fiction published. I just kept going. And I also added, you know, freelancing to my part time life. So I part time taught. And then, in my free time, I was writing about the law and, and orchids, and wind turbines, and you name it, and I still do that kind of stuff today.

Emma Dhesi:

Gosh, a real mix them there. That's there. It sounds like you really write for the love of it more than anything.

Heather Wright:

I.. it's funny, you say that a friend of mine is also a writer. And her son was she was complaining about something in the car. And her son says, Well, you know what, Mom, you haven't done any joy writing. And so that's a term that we continue to use, you know, we what we should be doing is our joy writing. And if we don't do the joy writing, then then life gets pretty grim. So yeah, we do rate for the joy of it and I think that's, that's, if it's not fun, I mean, it's work. I mean, writing, I don't get me wrong, getting something from beginning, middle through end is work. But there needs to be some joy in it some joy in the thought that someone's going to read it, that you're going to help someone that you're you're exploring your ideas and putting them down on paper, and that's giving you energy and, and clarifying things, wherever the joy comes from there, there needs to be a little bit in there. I think it's hard to get to the end with them.

Emma Dhesi:

Yes, you, my mentor says very much the same thing. But he kind of describes it as a passion project. And it feels he needs to have that little passion project that keeps you keeps that there reminds you why you're doing it. Because as you say, getting from A to B can be very hard work. And so having those miserable interjections of passion and joy keeps us fresh and reminding us why we did this in the first place. And that is exactly fun. Yeah. But I love that. You, you said that you don't know why. But having a child kind of made you think, well, that's the time to start writing. And interesting, actually, because that was a similar thing, a similar situation for myself and a number of other women I've talked to, and it's almost like having a child starting a family is this kind of catalyst and a life big life change anyway, and so why not add this one extra mix into the into the array as well.

Heather Wright:

And I think having a child makes you think about the future and what your quotes legacy might be, then you think, you know, my future is this long. And if I want to do this project, or I want to write or I want to paint or I want to do anything, what am I waiting for? There's, you know, there's there's a limited light, we have a limited lifespan, and maybe, you know, you're looking into the future and you're sort of seeing your son graduate from college, and you're thinking what am I doing in the meantime? Maybe I should accomplish something here. That would be a plan. I don't know. It just seemed to be the catalyst for me. I just thought, yeah, I'm going to pursue this and it started out with a workshop day with a really talented workshop leader named Brian Henry. And just launched from there.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, it seems to me like a decision suddenly, when for whatever reason, we make a decision that we're going to do this. Now. This is going to happen. This is my time to do it.

Heather Wright:

Yeah, to make that investment in yourself?

Emma Dhesi:

Yes, yes, because it isn't even with just with time and energy, it is a big investment. So you've come a long way then since those early days of short stories, and and now you help, you mentioned that before, I didn't realize that you had a background in teaching, which hopefully has helped you, or giving you this affinity with teens and understanding teens and how they work. And so that's one of the areas that you're specializing with your sort of coaching side, is helping teens to write their book. And so I'm interested if there if there is a difference between and what it is, if there is a difference, what it is between coaching, say, an adult writer and a teen writer, are there any differences and, you know, if I wanted to encourage my daughter to write, what would be good ways of doing that.

Heather Wright:

I think the teen writers that I have worked with, come to me with work. Like they have written stuff, pages and pages of stuff.

Emma Dhesi:

Okay.

Heather Wright:

And they want to know how to make it better. And they want feedback on their plot and characters. And they come with, they come with all of this material and I find my adult coaching people come with ideas and concerns. And I'm How can I get this done? And I don't know how to write and I don't know how to do this, and what format should this be. And it's quite, they're quite dissimilar in what they bring to a coaching session, or even what they bring to a workshop. I have more having run teen workshops and an adult workshops. The teens are, they're in the middle of something, and they are keen to get it done and their work, they're taking risks, and they're trying to explore things and they're sharing, and adults are well, I've started something and willing partway through, there's a lot more doubt. My adults have so much more doubt and, and that's my battle as battle. But that's my purpose, as workshop leader or coach is to put that aside and get into story and creating and, and having them achieve and accomplish and meet milestones that give them confidence to keep to keep going.

Emma Dhesi:

I see. So it sounds like what I'm kind of hearing is that the team has come ready to dive in. They don't have those same inhibitions that we adults do. And and they sound very prolific, but they are just ready to to do the job they there. That that encouraging them to write is not the problem actually. It's part of the trip

Heather Wright:

No, they come they come believing they're writers. And I'm you know, maybe I have to thank the school system for that. somebody out there doesn't is they believe their writers, they get feedback from their friends and their friends encourage them and they have their forums, none of which I can think of at the moment what's what's something comes to mind, where they put their work out there for anybody to read. And they're quite happy to take that risk and comment and others and be involved in that conversation around writing. It

Emma Dhesi:

It must be very nice for you as the facilitator to blows me away, and it's very energizing. have just Whoo, let's go for it. Let's do it.

Heather Wright:

Yeah, it is. It's very much let's go for it. And, and I remember running one workshop and everyone was so quiet. They were just like little mice. You know, to get fit to get them to talk was really something but they were listening so hard because I wasn't grading them. Teachers grade what they do. So I wasn't grading them. And I was talking to them writer to writer which they don't get they get teacher to writer, teacher to student, they don't get writer to writer. And they got a ton out of that the feedback I got on that was amazing. But they were just caught in that that funny place where they just wanted to listen and do and keep going. So the energy was very different. But I've had groups where it's very vocal as teenagers as anyways, they can be.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah. It's a kind of, I guess it's reflecting those stages of life that we're in, I suppose when we are young, and we're Teenagers are even in our early 20s. We are, you know, much more rebellious for much we're seeking adrenaline, we're looking for adventure. And then as we get older and we become parents, we start to kind of be much more cautious. And so perhaps not just, you know, laughing at myself here, because I'm a much more cautious driver, for example than I ever used to be when I had a family. And so maybe it's just sort of mirroring, mirroring life when we are more cautious and more worried about what could go wrong with our writing, rather than when we're these young people who were have our whole lives and our whole writing lives ahead of us. And we can achieve what we want.

Heather Wright:

I think that's, I think that's true. And I think it has, some of it might, depending on the age of the people, the adults in my class, as some of it has to do with what younger people read. They read a lot of fast fiction, there's a lot like those 100 pages from the, you know, for that they can plow through very quickly. And it's story and dialogue and zoom. And so many fantasy writers, they love speculative fiction, where they can just let their imaginations go and create worlds, and they tackle that with such heart and enthusiasm. And I think, adults, certainly, well, no, my age is a bit old, but younger than I maybe weren't read, we're reading that kind of material. So when we say we want to write a story, our models are maybe a little more confined, and restricted than the ones that they have that that seem to have so many options to do just about anything. And I think adults are wary when they're told what you can do just anything.

Emma Dhesi:

That's so true. That's really interesting that you say that, because certainly, and I do see that question come up quite a bit. Well, whoa, you know, I'm writing romance, or I'm writing a thriller. How long is it got to be? And it sounds like because we've got all these new fought with the advent of self publishing, we've got all these new forums, you've got your flash fiction, right through to your huge, great big speculative stuff. So we've got what 500 words, no 50 words. Sometimes it can be Yep. Right, all the way up to 400,000 words. But mid certainly, you know, my example was your, your 300, 300 to 350 word book, even for probably for children not far off that. Whereas No, this was great. They can mix and they hadn't really thought about that how, with each new generation coming up, it's going to change the face of publishing and writing all over again, we thought we've seen the biggest shift with the advent of indie, but maybe Actually, it's going to bring with it another shift in the face of publishing and what's out there.

Heather Wright:

Well the the freedom that indie gives you and self publishing gives you is there are no page restrictions. Because most people read self published books, most people when people start reading on tablets, there is no page count limit, because depending on the size of your font, the book is the book is as long as it is, it's the number of flicks on the screen. And so if I want to write a romance, that's 10,000 words, I can do that and publish it. If I want to write one that's 75,000 words, I can do that too. And you know, you adjust your price accordingly. And the markets there for a short read or a long one. And it's changed. It's changed writers and it's changed. It's changed readers, because readers can pick and choose, they can say I'm looking, could you actually go on Amazon and say I want a three hour read. I want a two hour read. So your traffic noise. So that's exactly that was never open to readers before. And therefore it's open to writers to say I'm going to specialize in books you can read in an hour, you know, on the on the on the train on my commute, you know, on my train into the city, whatever it is, I want to read a book in an hour.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah, that's given me a whole new a new area to think about actually thank you for that because I'm still very much caught in those boundaries of what I've been told and allowed to do and what's what's the norm. And so that's given me given me food for thoughts. Yes, thanks very much for them. Well, it's

Heather Wright:

it's, it's something to think about that. A story is as long as it needs to be to be told. And writers can they can, can tell the story the way they want to and as many words as they want to and and many will find the readership. You know, It's, you know that the the that world has has changed a lot. It's changed a lot expectations of readers and expectations for writers have really changed. And that's a good thing. I think that's a good thing, especially for writers. It It opens, opens a lot of doors. And I mean doors for traditional publishing are very tightly shut. It's a very tough world to get into. So so many more are turning to, to independent publishing to, to self publishing. So why not find those niches for your story that are that are out there?

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah. Well, talking of niches do you notice? I'm thinking of both your your younger writers and your adult writers, do you notice any overlap, not so much in the style, but in the themes that are written about do we still no matter what age we are, we still kind of tend to write about the same things, whether it be about love, or relationships or danger, whatever it might be.

Heather Wright:

Ammm Relationships, I think are probably top of the list, even the the ones writing fantasy. You know, there are people with characters who are coming together tearing apart, lying, being discovered, falling in love, none of that is going to change. I don't think that I think people are always going to be human folly, and whatever still gonna be the heart of every of every story, what I find in my adult, the many of the adults and many adult writers, they often want to tell someone else's story or their own memoir is something they're keenly interested in. And maybe, maybe more. So now, I don't know, whether it'll change. But certainly in the pre COVID years, people want to tell us they find out about family members, they want to tell a story of their mother, they want to tell a story of their grandparents who emigrated and, and found a new life and what they went through, there's a huge interest in telling that story. Some people want to tell their own story they've, what they've learned about life and finding happiness or whatever it is overcoming struggles. Those are our definite themes along my my adult writers, it's, it's explaining and tell it often telling someone else's story. I mean, I still have Mystery Writers and fantasy writers and romance writers in the mix. But there's a good chunk who really want to write memoir.

Emma Dhesi:

I wonder if that's them. I wonder if that's an extension of I don't know, if you remember, but certainly, certainly here in the UK, and I think in their North America as well. There's been this real uplift up surging of people researching their family history. And so maybe this is a sort of the second wave of that now we find out all this information, we'd like to share it with others and tell the story rather than just have it left on a file somewhere. We want to...

Heather Wright:

Yeah, there's a lot of I don't how many ads we see every day for ancestry dot ball ca for where I am. And, you know, going back and finding out these things about your family tree. I think that's that's quite true. I think people are encouraged to, to do that. I know my father in law has has one side of the family back to the 1700s. Sometimes So, you know, funny, some of them are rascals. But anyhow, yeah. I think there is that. I think there is that maybe maybe in in times when looking forward is kind of defeating, you know, so much. It's uncertain, that maybe looking back has a real fascination. finding out where I'm from. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Emma Dhesi:

Now, I'm going to change tack a little bit, and if I've taken a trip down memory lane there, but I'd wonder if you could tell me about that Spy writers from Kw.

Heather Wright:

Okay, I'm Laurie Wolf Hefner is Kitchener writer. And she's also my former grade 11 students. I taught her English and in school in high school. And even though I knew she was going to be a writer then just knew and she wanted them something she wanted very much. So Fast forward many years, and I was the president of our local branch of the professional Writers Association of Canada. And Laurie came to a meeting and joined and it was like, remembering. So I'm in the process we met, we met again there and reconnected and she got to a point in her life when she decided I'm going to sit down, and I'm going to write and she was she's writing a series, which is fascinating because it takes place in present day in my hometown, Kitchener, and also 100 years ago, in Romania. And it met her ancestors, and a young woman there. So there's a teen in Kitchener and a teen in Romania. And so this there's a chapter on each as you go through the so you get to stories of what's going on in each person's life. Of course, they're quite different. One is just has just come out of World War One, the families just come out of World War One, excuse me. And the father is has gone to Canada to to try and earn enough to bring them over. And then our young girl here in Kitchener, she has just come here from West with her family, because her grandfather is in the early stages of dementia, and they've come to live with him and take care of him and the girl that connects them is the grandfather's mother. So it's, it's a, it's a great series, I think she's on book eight. So I act as her, her first reader I Well, I, she sent we talked, we have a meeting where we talk about the story where she's going to go, then she writes the outline, and I go through the outline and give her my feedback. So we've been doing this for eight books now. So her background is even though she was they were living in Romania, the the language they spoke its german and so in my my community Kitchener used to be called Berlin, it's a very german community was to announce, you know, the melting pot, but excuse me in early days, it was, it was a very german community. So we decided we would get together and do the market circuit. So in the craft fairs and sell our books, and do that sort of thing. And we needed a banner for the two of us. And since there were two, and she has the German heritage, we became the Spy writers of KW. And that's what we do. So we've done workshops together, we switched the virtual last year, we were planning to do them in person, and in March and April. So needless to say, they went virtual. So that's what we have done and but with COVID, we've sort of we've let that go. But I think when things improve, we hope to get back to the market circle, again, and the craft fairs, and there's a kW, a women's show that we love and other things like that, and get back to doing the workshops, because we tag team very well. She publishes independently. And so why and? Yeah, we've I think we bring a lot as a as a tag team to, to writers.

Emma Dhesi:

Yeah. Well, I'll circle back to that in a bit actually, just to talk about kind of the idea of mentorship, and working with somebody, either one on one or in a small group. And just before we do a lot of my listeners, you know, they're new writers, they're either want to write a book, or they're in the process of writing their first book and coming up, you know, up against the usual common challenges that we all do. And the most common one, is this, the finding the time to write, particularly those that are just on the cusp of starting, what advice do you have for new writers that might give them that boost? That that something that might just get them over the over the lip, and writing? You know, finding that time?

Heather Wright:

I think one of the the roadblocks is the fact that what you're doing is really, really big, like, it involves a lot of words and you almost get choked by that thought, like, Oh, my gosh, I have to produce, you know, 65,000 words to make this novel. So I think a couple of things, one that I highly recommend, that I that I got from someone else, needless to say, is mini habits. And there's a whole book about this. I can't remember the man who wrote it, but it's called mini habits. And basically, you set really small goals for yourself, because when you fail something you think, Oh, I wasn't motive. faded enough, and I wasn't disciplined enough, and you're very, very negative. And then that just breeds like, Why do it the next time, so I'll just feel negative again. But if you set up a mini goal and achieve it, then you are motivated to keep going sometimes. So if your mini MC and then he means Mini, so my mini goal per day might be I'm going to write 50 words. That's it, just 50 words. So at 10 minutes before bedtime, I can meet my goal, and I can get my 50 words done. And I wake up the next morning knowing I've written 50 words, and I've met my goal. So I'm not a failure, I'm a success. So the next day when I have time, and I sit down and write 50 words, I may just, I mean, I'm not gonna stop at 50 words, because I've got a good idea going, and I'm going to write three, four paragraphs. Well, there's my page. So it's kind of a mind trick, but I think it over, it helps you overcome that defeat when you don't write every day. And you think, oh, how can I be a writer if I don't write every day. And I think if you set yourself a little mini goal, and you write it every day, then you are a writer, and you're piling success on success and words, on words. And I thought it was a really positive way to approach it. Rather than saying, well, you need the discipline. And you need to say the other key thing, one other key thing that I think writers need is forgiveness. When you don't do it, that day, you know, forgive yourself stuff happens, especially in the last year. Plus, the fact that anybody's writing anything, I think, is a minor miracle. Because the strain and stress of just getting up every day and carrying on. It's hard to be creative, when all your energy is just into how am I going to get groceries today? And how am I going to keep my family safe? And how am I going to be safe? And how am I going to protect my mother. That the you know, the fact that anybody can put a creative word on the page, I think is a miracle. But if you put 25 words on a page, or 50 words on a page, you're still honoring that, that creative person inside of you. And it's a little progress, and you're not a failure, because you did it, you met your goal. So I think I think that comes into it. I mean, other things I would encourage people to do is think about, and I'm sure you've probably suggested this is true a couple of days write down how they spend their time, you know, make a lot of, Oh, I just imagine you look back and you go, I spent 35 minutes playing freecell. Now, maybe I could have spent 15 of those, you know, writing a page. And if you do the math, this is the other encouraging thing. I think, if you do the math, and you type slowly, like say 35 words a minute, which was the fastest I ever got in high school on a typewriter. You can write, I can do the math 10 minutes, you can get a page. You know.

Emma Dhesi:

I think people underestimate, how, how, how powerful just writing for a small amount of time is, I think a lot of people have this vision of a real writer in inverted commas, who sits and writes for three, four hours a day. And actually, that that's exhausting for most of us, but you can in small bursts get so much done. My I am very similar to you in that if I'm having one of those days, and I really can't bear the thought of sitting down to write but I know, you know, this is my job, I've got to do it. I tell myself, all you've got to do is write 50 words. That's all you've got to do. And then you've made progress towards getting you know, if you've shown up, you've done your job, just do those 50 words and it all adds up. And it's never ceases to astound me just how much progress can be made by doing that a little bit every day or a little bit regularly. You know, even not every day, but two, three times a week. Yeah.

Heather Wright:

Well, I know from my own experience, when I have said, oh, I've got a whole afternoon to write. I can fritter that away. Just I'm just a professional fritter. I think I mean, the I don't spend three hours writing I really don't, I don't have the brain for it. Like after 500 words, I have to get up go for a walk. I gotta get up and walk around. So you know, saying oh, I've got a whole day I'm gonna don't don't put so much pressure on yourself because chances are you just won't do it. But you know, 50 words you can do and sometimes if you write 50, you'll keep writing the next 50 and the next 50 and, and every every 250 is a page, so...

Emma Dhesi:

Oh, fantastic, great, great, great tips there, you know, the many, many goals, and then forgiveness as well, which is so important for some reason to be very cruel to ourselves when it comes to surviving. I want to kind of circle back on what you were talking about before with and with Laurie and being kind of having this mentorship relationship tag teaming with how you described it, which was nice. And that's something I know that you offer and you offer coaching, do you do that internationally? Or is it kind of locally or an in person that you do it?

Heather Wright:

I have done both actually. It with, with zoom. And, you know, you can talk to anybody, anywhere? When we when Lori and I did our workshops, they were online, and we had people from all across Canada join us. And we're not too sure why or how but so we're unlimited today. The only challenges, you know times. Yes. You know, yeah, calculating who's awake when? and that sort of thing. But otherwise, yeah, anywhere, mostly I've had been lucky to have in person and local clients that we can meet over coffee but now of course we don't. So yeah, we reached online.

Emma Dhesi:

So what kind of coaching Do you offer? Is it one to one generally? Or is it through this small group workshops? or What does it look like?

Heather Wright:

I've wanted one, one to one. And my goal is to to guide the person toward what they want. And that takes some digging sometimes is to, you know, finding out where they where they really want to go with whatever they they want to write, whether it's memoir, or, you know, fiction. Because I think that's, that's important that I've was reading recently, someone was talking about critique groups and how they felt that people in critique groups told you, you know, they heard your idea, and then they told you how they would write it. And that was their critique. And, you know, that's not really helpful. You want to know how you how they think you should keep writing it, or how you could change it based on what your goals are for those characters, or whatever it happens to be. So I'm very aware of, of doing that of being as much in their headspace on on their goals. And what they see for the story is I can, but I come in at all stages, I've just worked with a person who is has just finished, it's it's she has the books. She was a nurse in a summer camp and the summer camp is, I don't know, 75 years old. So she felt and there's no history of it. So she's written a history of this particular summer camp. And that's what so it's nonfiction with some with her memories and memories of other people incorporated in this and she just turned 91. So in her case, I came in, and she'd written a lot of stuff, a lot of stuff, but it wasn't in the right order. And it didn't flow. And it didn't kind of it was good information. She was a good writer, I didn't have to worry about the mechanics, but the to make it flow like a story. That was my challenge with her. Another writer. She calls me when she has an idea. And she has a thing about like, she thinks she wants to write about this, and she has some ideas. And we talk sometimes she sends it to you know, sends it to me, and I'll send it back. And then we just talk about it. She records what we say and it just helps her work through the story ideas and think of things that she hadn't thought of, or come at it from angles that she hadn't thought of and then that's all I do. I'm just in on that early consult and, you know, because you when you've looked at an idea for so long you, you start seeing all the options, right? And then you go well, that's all there must be something else and you just can't see it for yourself. But someone else comes in and their brain goes, Oh wow, you could do this or this and here's an idea what about this side, you know, and that's you just need that sort of input and then off you could go and that's what I do for Laurie as well. She comes at me with the ideas and then she turns them our conversation into an outline, a very detailed outline, and then she does that and and now she's working on writing romance. So we're doing the same kind of thing. So it's a it's A lot of fun. Yeah, and a teen roadside... sorry?

Emma Dhesi:

So I was just gonna say, I think that shows the power of having a mentor or a coach is sometimes it's not about the mechanics, as you mentioned, it's about the brainstorming, it's about the having someone who's as interested in your project as you are, and who will give it that depth of time and energy and kind of brain work to help you move on and get to the finish line, essentially, just to know that you're on the right track, you've got good ideas, keep going, keep going. And then someone to celebrate with at the end.

Heather Wright:

It's, yeah, I'm the cheerleader. You know, it's it's my job to, to give them that motivation. And sometimes it's being the accountability partner. Because if they know they're going to meet me in two weeks, then they feel compelled to produce sometimes just having someone waiting for you is a great way to get the work done. So sometimes it's it's almost a matter of that knowing that she's going to that she promised that mean in a month then then the material appears in a month. And that's a good thing for that helps people keep sometimes that's all I need, you know, yeah, I don't get a lot into I haven't had to I guess I've been very lucky that I haven't had to worry about grammar and and mechanics too much. Most people come with a pretty even my young writers I've had 11 year olds. They they know how to tell a story and write a sentence and and I give them some tips to you know, tighten things up maybe but for the most part, they've they, they're where they should be. So it's all good.

Emma Dhesi:

Now, tell me about you because you are a prolific writer as well. You write a lot of nonfiction. Are you writing anything at the moment?

Heather Wright:

Um, yeah, I have written a lot of nonfiction. And I love to I really wish I spent most of 2020 veiling, I was never ever going to have a creative idea for a story again, just nothing did air it was it was grim. I thought because even though I write nonfiction, part of me says, but you know, you want to write you want to write stories, Heather, you really do. So I had nothing. It was the dead zone. And I came across it. Workshops inspire me. So I'd seen this workshop and I thought, Okay, I'm going to take that I'm going to learn about that. And it was writing a hallmark style screenplay. And I don't know if you have those in the UK, but yes, you're nodding. Yeah. Okay. And so I took this workshop, which is very helpful, because they do have a formula as, as anyone who's watched one can tell. And I thought this is, maybe this is the way I need to tell a story, not in prose, but in the format of a screenplay and so I invested in software, because oh my gosh, the formatting, it was pretty play. It's beyond coping, if you try doing it in Word, or anywhere else, so invested in that, and I just finished my third. Wow. And it seems that this is the way I should be telling stories because I just love every minute of it. I haven't had such a joy writing in my life, it's I have doing this. So... memorization that anything is off the plate,

Emma Dhesi:

That's amazing! doesn't it? That shows that, you know, as creatives we are constantly evolving, and growing and trying new things and stretching ourselves, and depending on where we are in life, something will magically appear and grab our attention and off we go.

Heather Wright:

And, you know, it's literally never too late to do that. I turned 70 in October, so it's just never too late. And I've just sent the first one out for coverage, which is screenwriting, the equivalent of having a professional critique it so

Emma Dhesi:

like someone's face.

Heather Wright:

So that's I'm very excited.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, Heather, it's been lovely chatting to you. Before we wrap up, can you let our listeners know where they can find out more about you and what you do?

Heather Wright:

I have a website I just I'll spell it out. It's it's wrightingwords.com but writing is spelled like my last name. So it's wrightingwords.com. And there's a ton of free stuff for writers there's oh six 700 writing prompts for, you know to play with. There are some free templates for you know, learning about your character. You're for plotting all sorts of goodies. Oh, there's links to useful resources, which I'm going to add yours to today. I had a look at your website. This is awesome. So that's fine. That's that'll go in as in my resources today. So yeah, lots of free stuff.

Emma Dhesi:

Brilliant. But I'll make sure I link to that in the show notes of the podcast. My goodness, Heather's being fluid in our time together. I've really, really enjoyed our conversation. And I can see that you love writing you have a joy for what you do and the people you teach. So thank you for sharing some of that joy with us today.

Heather Wright:

Oh, it's been my pleasure, Emma, I really enjoyed my time here.

Emma Dhesi:

Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you find that helpful and inspirational. Now, don't forget to come on over to facebook and join my group, turning readers into writers. It is especially for you if you are a beginner writer who is looking to write their first novel. If you join the group, you will also find a free cheat sheet they're called three secret hacks to write with consistency. So go to emmadhesi.com/turning readers into writers. Hit join. Can't wait to see you in there. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.