Saturday, 7 March 2009

life coaching

Perhaps it's time for me to write about the coaching session I had a couple of weeks ago.

Flax Books, as part of their writer development programme, offer a coaching session to the writers they publish, and as my work is going to be in Unsaid Undone I went to Lancaster for my second meeting with editor/writer and life coach Sarah Hymas.

I've never had any coaching so was unsure exactly how it would work or how it might help. I was sent a questionnaire a couple of weeks before about my writing, what I want to achieve in the next five years with my writing, what strengths I have, what hurdles there might be, and what help I might need. This was fairly easy. Bullet points. Lists. Ideas.

The coaching session itself pretty much followed this format, although there was more focus on me actually making some commitments with myself about what I was going to do, how, and when (for example, exactly how many short shorts I am going to write a week over what period of time). And this was the part I found difficult. Making commitments. Identifying exactly how I might do what I want to do.

This was surprising. I always view myself as a writer who knows where she wants to be and has the means to put this in place. Yes, some confidence issues and some doubts about exactly where and how (and in some cases) exactly what I might achieve. But, all the same, a writer with direction, a (flexible) plan and an understanding of what needs to be done.

But, sitting in a room being asked about the specifics of this and having to write a plan of exactly what I will do. I found this surprisingly hard. I found myself asking internal questions that I couldn't answer:
Exactly what do I want to do with my writing?
Do I have an exact goal(s)?
Are they achieveable/realistic?
Can I plan in a logical/left brain way what for me is mostly illogical/right brain creativity?
If I want to achieve these things why haven't I already done them?

It was interesting. I found it very difficult to plan beyond November, never mind a five year plan.

I made some good minimal commitments with myself about what I will do until November: writing short shorts, getting feedback, keep sending work to magazines, anthologies and competitions, write reviews, approach other magazines I want to write reviews for, carry on with my collaboration with artist Gemma Lacey, see if I/we can branch out into running a workshop or two around combining art/poetry, assess again in November.

I felt a little disappointed in myself that I couldn't give more. I found myself feeling vague.

And have since been reframing this, buy trying to understand my relationship with writing.

I value my writing time as seperate from my work time. It's not essential to earn money from writing. It's about enjoyment and feeling challenged, but not compromised into writing certain things/in a certain way in order to earn money. I like 'seeing what happens'/seeing what opportunities come up as they arise. I want to write a novel at some point/have a brilliant idea for a novel/but am not ready to write it (for whatever reason). There is nothing wrong with this. I feel like writing is an apprenticeship, and I want to enjoy the slow journey, I don't want to rush, be over-ambitious, over-reach myself. I want to be ready to enjoy each stage of my journey, wherever that might lead me. At the moment I love short fiction, short shorts, prose poetry, small presses. I feel at home with them. I don't feel in a rush to write a long and sustained piece of work/get an agent/a big publishing deal with a major publishing house. Yes one day (perhaps). But, it is not about end-goals for me. It's about all the little successes along the way. It's about learning to be a better writer, exploring what I want to write about, and different ways of doing this. It's about small steps.

I want to focus on today and tomorrow at the moment. Not five years time. It feels as though there are many paths to five years time, and I'm not sure exactly how I want to get to five years time or what kind of five years time I actually want.

So, having a life coaching was an interesting process for me. I perhaps realised that even though writing is an absolutely essential and significant part of my future, I'm not ambitious in a particular direction, and am not in a rush.


Michelle said...

I love this, Annie:

"I feel like writing is an apprenticeship, and I want to enjoy the slow journey, I don't want to rush, be over-ambitious, over-reach myself. I want to be ready to enjoy each stage of my journey, wherever that might lead me.

This is how I feel too.

Charles Carver said...

Life coaching. Of course! All the great writers had that.

Sarah Hymas said...

Ambition - a funny thing, isn't it? I squirmed when I read your description of me as a 'life coach'! I'd never dream of calling myself that. I just ask a few questions ...

And as for fitting to the timescales of the session, what I find interesting is how we discover what we buck against. Surprising ourselves is something that should be more highly rated!

Ayush said...

thanks for sharing nice article on life coaching. I also know a person whi is a life coach from LV:
Michael Besson