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Opinion: Just Write – But What If You Can’t?

Opinion: Just Write – But What If You Can’t?

Headshot of Ellie Stevenson

Ellie Stevenson, ALLi author and partner member, and a strategic intervention coach

ALLi partner member Ellie Stevenson, strategic coach and author, considers a different kind of teaching that will encourage “stuck” self-published writers to keep going: strategic intervention. Her imagined conversation with a client explains how this works.

Would-be author: I want to write steamy, sexy novels but I can’t get started. What can I do?

Coach: Only steamy, sexy novels?

Author: Well, any kind of novel, really, anything at all. But I’m struggling, stuck.

Coach: Many people want to write, have even perhaps tried writing short pieces, or parts of a novel but the work fizzles out and comes to nothing. Or maybe they’re plagued by doubts and fears and keep re-writing, starting again. If this is you, what can you do?

Well, you’ve joined ALLi. That’s a great start.

You might also belong to a writing group, have been on a course or bought some software – all of which are useful strategies. You might also need direct support. So… get a coach. Specifically, Strategic Intervention coaching.

Author:  What does a Strategic Intervention coach do?

Coach: They help you:

  • define your goals
  • make a plan of action
  • address any issues along the way
  • and ensure you’re making regular progress

A coach helps you achieve your goals – a book is a great example of this.

Author: Isn’t not writing just about not getting down to it?

Woman at keyboard with despairing hand over face

Help! I’m stuck!

Coach: Not always. Procrastination, hesitation and avoiding action, like constant rewriting, rather than progressing, aren’t excuses, or just being lazy, they’re what strategic interventionists call ‘safe’ fears. They’re safe because they stop us from facing the much greater fears that all of us share (writers or not):

  • That we won’t be appreciated and
  • We’re not (good) enough

If you don’t write your book, you don’t have to worry that

  • Your kids might laugh because the book’s sexy or
  • Your partner will mock it, because it’s not literature

So there won’t be a risk, but there won’t be any achievement either.
It doesn’t matter what kind of book you’re writing. The fears still apply.

Author: But writing a book is difficult, right?

Coach: Yes, it’s not easy, there’s hard work involved. But often the hardest thing is getting ourselves and our fears out of the way. So we can just write, instead of saying, ‘this is rubbish, I’m no good at this’ and stop before we’ve even begun. The reasons we write and our perspective will affect our expectations, and expectations affect the outcome. Strategic intervention coaching can help with this.

Woman at desk with huge pile of paper behind her desk

No need to feel overwhelmed!

Author:  I’m very busy – I don’t have time to write my book so I certainly don’t have time for coaching.

Coach: Coaching sessions are usually an hour, shorter if you wish. The time saved in being focused and supported will save you time in the long run. And the effects of coaching can expand to other areas of your life.

Author: Will I be out of my comfort zone?

Coach: Writing a book is out of most people’s comfort zone! With a strategic intervention coach, you’ll feel supported and assisted. This is someone there for you.

Author: How long does it last?

Coach: Strategic Intervention coaching isn’t therapy. The focus is on achieving results and getting you on the path to success. Coaching is generally short-term.

Author: I don’t have a huge budget.

Coach: Because it’s short-term, it’s not expensive. And each package (tailored to your requirements) comes with a free 45-minute taster, with no obligation.

Author: Is there anything else I ought to know?

Coach: Strategic Intervention coaching isn’t just useful, it’s fun. You’ll find out more about yourself and how you work. It gives you the chance to try creative techniques and explore your attitude to your writing, as well as moving your work forward. That’s why it’s ideal for creatives.

OVER TO YOU Have you ever tried a writing coach of any kind? Do you have experience of strategic intervention? We’d love to hear about your experience.

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Ellie Stevenson

Ellie Stevenson is the author of two novels, a short story collection and a small booklet on Writing for Magazines in the UK. Her third novel is due out this year. She is a member of ALLi and the Society of Authors.
Ellie is also a Strategic Intervention coach, careers writer and experienced careers adviser, focused on helping people achieve their goals. You CAN succeed! You can contact her via the Careers Writers Association here.

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