Meet the Sponsored Writers 3: Katharine Orton and Nic Lamont

Hi! I’m Katharine Orton and I’m the author of two books for children, Nevertell and Glassheart, with my latest – a fantasy adventure called Mountainfell, filled with cloud dragons and dangerous magic – set to be published in November ‘22. You may not believe this, but Rachel Knightley, who founded both the Green Ink Writer’s Gym and Sponsored Write, is actually my oldest friend, the two of us having first met as tiddlers in reception class! One day (many years after reception), she very kindly asked if I’d like to take part in this special fundraising idea for Macmillan that she’d had … And I’ve been proudly taking part in the Sponsored Write more or less ever since.

Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

I love deadlines. Much like the late, great Douglas Adams, I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. But letting deadlines zoom past me is absolutely not an option when it comes to the Sponsored Write – so the pressure is on!


Many of the writers involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Are you happy to share your experience of the charity’s work?

Macmillan were an amazing source of support when my mother-in-law lost her partner to pancreatic cancer, and have been a wonderful support to other friends and family over the years. My auntie is also actually a cancer nurse, so I know what an amazing job they do.


What’s it like being in a Sponsored Write?

Fun, rewarding, challenging. Everyone should have a go!



What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

I think it opens up a lot of intriguing possibilities…


Absolutely anything else you’d like to share!

Please support us by donating anything from the price of a coffee to those dusty millions you forgot you had (I know, right, if only!). If you like short stories as much as you like doing a good turn for charity, then this is most definitely for you. And perhaps next year you might even like to take part in the Sponsored Write yourself!

Hello! I’m Nic. I’m an actor, comedian and writer based in Kent. I originally began writing sketches with my comedy partner Adam in our duo The Twins Macabre and we were very lucky to have our work featured on BBC3 and BBC Radio 4. Since then I’ve written dark comedy plays that have been produced in London theatres, and a solo show which is a punk-rock retelling of the life of Mary Shelley. I was so pleased that Rachel got to see my Mary Shelley show and thrilled to be asked to take part in this year’s Sponsored Write! 

Q. Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

I know it’s a bit nerdy… but I do love a deadline! Whenever I want to write a new show, the best way for me to get it done is just to book it in at a theatre and work towards that. I’m somehow both a perfectionist and a bit of a dreamer, so deadlines really help me to stop judging my own work too much or spend too long pondering. So, I’m actually really excited for the time-limit of the Sponsored Write to really focus on what I create. 

Q. Many involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Do you want to share any experience of the charity’s work?

Whilst not direct experience of Macmillan, cancer unfortunately has had an impact on my family in the past and present. Someone very close to me has recently started their own battle with cancer, which makes this cause all the more important to me. I know that Macmillan do incredible work, their values being ‘with strength, with heart, with ambition’ – what a brilliant force of positivity to put into the world. 

Q. What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

What a wonderful theme chosen by Ramsey Campbell! It’s a theme that is both broad and overarching, but very intimate too. We all go through transformations in our lives and they can be earth shatteringly huge, or tiniest everyday shift. I think the pandemic forced everyone to stand still for a second and renew their values, be it in relationships or careers or just buying more houseplants. As someone who has dabbled in many different forms of performing, and having recently become a mother, I feel I am constantly renewing what I do and my role in the world. This is a great theme to spark the imagination and I’m looking forward to what I and the other writers create! 

Q. Absolutely anything else you’d like to share! 🙂

I am excited for this to be taking place in October! Autumn is really my season; I was born in October and am a lover of all things spooky and Halloweenish. A pumpkin-spiced coffee will no doubt be my rocket fuel on the 15th! To find out more about me check out @nic.lamont 

Ghosts, Reflections, Retellings, Social Media, Selves.

Social media can be social. It can connect us. We can make friends, find the people who need our services, find the people whose services we need.

But it can also scare us off, reveal not what is out there but what fears are in here. Not about others so much as about ourselves.

Much like mirrors do, in every👏 single 👏 ghost story 👏 I 👏 have 👏ever👏written!

Mirrors. Seriously. 

Here’s why they scare and fascinate me…

We don’t see ourselves when we look in the mirror. We see a reflection. Something created in response. Never the thing, the person, the place. Even a memory is a recalled perception, never the thing itself. A retelling. 

Each retelling, though, is a new draft, truer to itself than the last. An essential truth even if not a literal one. Like our stories on the page, we are becoming more ourselves each time we learn more about our own story, gain another perspective on it, about who we choose to be and what we choose to learn.

When we look at social media, it can only make us unhappy when we see ourselves instead of the other. 

As if the choices, achievements, joys or sorrows of others are any reflection on us. Or, even if they were, as if it means there’s any less space in the world for our own.

There is space for you, all you can do and all you can be.

The other is not ourselves. Everyone is free to celebrate and share who they are and what they can offer the world. Even your reflection isn’t really you.

But it’s certainly got things to tell you, if you’re ready to listen, and to choose what happens in the next chapter…

Meet the Sponsored Writers 2: Stephen Laws and Jennifer Steil

Hello! Tell us about yourself, your writing and how you discovered the Sponsored Write?

My name’s Stephen Laws. I’m the author of 11 novels, numerous short stories, columnist, reviewer, film-festival interviewer, and lucky enough to have been the recipient of several awards. Peter Cushing loved my novels but hated the bad language therein. Horror actress Ingrid Pitt organised a team search of my hotel room, concentrating on a ‘haunted sock drawer’. Roger Corman bought me a pizza. I made Christopher Lee cry in public. I won second prize in a 1963 ‘Name the Sugar Puff Bear’ competition. My son has a famous godfather in the genre. I play piano, and one of my compositions was performed with full orchestra on a pre-Civil War Yugoslav television ‘variety’ programme. This is all true. You can find my work at www.stephen-laws.com

I was contacted directly about Sponsored Write and was immediately attracted to the idea, not just the concept of writing a story in a day (something that Ray Bradbury claimed he did regularly), but also the charity for which earnings were aimed. 

Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

I’ve always been a deadline person when it comes to novels. When my first novel was published, the contract had an option for a second novel and there was a deadline attached to it – so it certainly sharpened my focus right at the beginning. Deadlines featured continually thereafter, and I’ve always found that helpful rather than a problem. 

Many of the writers involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Are you happy to share your experience of the charity’s work?

I have deep personal connection here, not only my mother and father but also my wife’s mother – and the Macmillan staff were utterly superb at times of great emotional stress.

What’s it like being in a Sponsored Write?

Well, it’s great being in such good company – even if we are working apart and individually! 

What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

I’m not sure. Think I might ask my pal Ramsey if he has any spare ideas that I can use. He thought it up. So, it’s his fault. As soon as I heard about the theme, I decided NOT to think about it and stay true to the spirit of the Sponsored Write initiative. When the subject comes up, as it does now with your question, I try hard to file it away in my head until the day I start writing. I’m probably kidding myself, though. Most writers I know have ‘ideas files’, notepads, undeveloped research material, thoughts, random scribbled moments, newspaper cuttings, odd phrases and words that have intriguing possible associations for stories (There are several on my study shelves right next to me now). It might be that something there will leap to mind when I sit down and start writing. The phrase might just be part of a jigsaw puzzle that connects things I’ve already been thinking about and result in a story. Or not! I might just begin ‘blank’, apply pen to paper and see what comes out. 

Absolutely anything else you’d like to share?

If you’re an aspiring writer and never had anything published, try to write a story in a day. Do yourself a ‘Ray Bradbury’! Give yourself that twenty-four parameter to determine its length. Get it down on paper, don’t worry about shape, form or content – just get a story down. Don’t go back over it too much; just get the story down. And then on the following day you can go back to it. Then you can amend and reshape and cut and add. Go on – give it a try.

Hello! Tell us about yourself, your writing and how you discovered the Sponsored Write?

With pleasure! I’m a memoirist, novelist, essayist, and short story writer who switches countries every few years. I was born in the US, but left in 2006 to take a job as a newspaper editor in Yemen. That job led me to writing my first book, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, a memoir about the hilarity that ensued when I took over a Yemeni newsroom and – more importantly – about my brilliant Yemeni reporters. Just as I was about to leave the country, I met my husband, and ended up staying another three years. Our daughter was born while we lived there, and I began writing my second book, the novel The Ambassador’s Wife. Since then, we’ve lived in London, Bolivia, and Uzbekistan. My third book, Exile Music, was inspired by the Jewish survivors who fled to La Paz to escape the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s. I’ve recently finished another novel set in Bolivia, about a queer community living underground, and am working on one set in Uzbekistan. 

My life was upended in March of this year when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I am in London for treatment, while my husband and daughter remain in Tashkent for work and school respectively. The hardest part is the separation from them. My work has thus slowed a bit as my focus has necessarily changed to surviving long enough to see my daughter through adulthood. 

I met Rachel Knightley at one of the meetings of the novelists’ group of the Society of Authors. I can’t even remember how we first got to know each other, how it all went. I remember ringing her during the first lockdown, when my daughter and I had been evacuated to London, and crying as I walked through a park. And ever since then we see each other when I am in London and when I heard about the Sponsored Write I asked her if I could join! I’m always happy to write in service of a cause.

Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

I love deadlines. I worked as a journalist for some fifteen years before switching to writing books fulltime, and I write so much more so much faster when given a deadline. I wish more people would give me writing deadlines! I’ve long wished my agent would say, I need the next book by such and such a date. Because I would do it. If you don’t tell me when something is due, you may never get it. I love the deadline challenge of the Sponsored Write, because it forces me not to be overly precious with my words and to just get something down. My inner editor barely has time to step in. Which is generally a good thing, at least in a first draft. 

 Many of the writers involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Are you happy to share your experience of the charity’s work?

Absolutely. Last year when I did the Sponsored Write, I had no experience with Macmillan Cancer Support. Now, alas, I have come to rely on them for all manner of help. They have financial advisors who can help with applications for grants and loans, they provide nurses I can ring every day to ask questions or just to cry. They have online support groups. They provide every kind of information pamphlet on every kind of issue cancer patients of call kinds face, from how to manage your sex life during treatment (yes people with cancer sometimes want a sex life!) to what to eat and where to seek help. I don’t know how I would manage without Macmillan. 

What’s it like being in a Sponsored Write?


Last year, I did the Sponsored Write in Tashkent, in my little home office. I enjoyed being challenged to write on a theme, and the adrenaline of the short time period. It was also fun to chat with the other writers at the end. The story I wrote became the first germ of my newest novel. So, not a waste of time!

What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

You’ll find out, if you sponsor us! But I think we could all use some kind of constant renewal, just to survive our broken planet, our broken societies. The planet itself needs constant renewal. The cells of my body could also do with some renewal. But I don’t want to give too much away here. What if I want to use it in a story?

Absolutely anything else you’d like to share!

Please donate if you can, and I promise to do my best to write something you will enjoy reading as part of our anthology! If you’re interested in reading about my cancer – trying to avoid the word journey here – adventures, including my interactions with Macmillan, I’m keeping an online journal on Caring Bridge. https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jennifersteil/journal

It’s ridiculously long and personal and full of unrelated rants, but if you want to know what goes through the mind of one current cancer patient, it will give you that. 

Meet the Sponsored Writers 1: Lisa Morton and Charlotte Bond

Green Ink Sponsored Write is an annual fund-raising event for Macmillan Cancer Support. To be receive the world-exclusive anthology two days after it’s written, visit www.justgiving.com/greeninksponsoredwrite2022

Meet Lisa

I’m Lisa Morton, a writer of screenplay, fiction, and non-fiction. I’m the author of four novels, more than 150 short stories, and a number of non-fiction books on Halloween and the paranormal. 

I discovered Sponsored Write in 2021 when I was invited to participate (thank you!).

Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

Well, yes and no. At this point in my writing career I no longer have time to write things on spec, so nearly everything I write now involves deadlines. On the one hand it keeps me scheduled and motivated; on the other hand, it can lead to some serious rises in blood pressure! I do occasionally miss those days when I wrote solely for myself, but I wouldn’t trade where I am now for anything.

What’s it like being in a Sponsored Write?

I’m one of those writers who likes the challenge of writing to a theme; my goal is always to take the assigned theme and make it over into my own distinct work. Add on the goal of helping a worthwhile charity and (hopefully) creating a new story that will entertain readers, and I end up finding it a very satisfying experience.

What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

I’m not sure yet! Really, at this point I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I’m also a tremendous fan of Ramsey Campbell, so I  hope to come up with something good!

Absolutely anything else you’d like to share!?

My big book project of this year (which I sadly can’t share yet) has been a huge, very technical endeavor; it’ll be a pleasure to take a break from it to pound out a new short story (which is really my favorite format). Thank you again for the invite.

Meet Charlotte

Hey! I’m Charlotte Bond, and I’m an author, freelance editor and ghostwriter, reviewer, and podcaster. I tend to stick to the realms of horror and dark fantasy for my own work, but I’ve ghostwritten everything from children’s fantasy to romance, YA to cosy mysteries. I review for various websites and I also do a huge chunk of reading for the podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper where I’m a co-host alongside a couple of fabulous women, Megan Leigh and Lucy Hounsom.

I’d seen writer friends do the Sponsored Write before and thought it was a great idea. I was blown away by the camaraderie and enthusiasm all the writers seemed to have in the run up to the day itself. So when Rachel Knightley approached me in 2021 and asked me if I’d like to join in, I immediately said yes! And I’m even more thrilled to be asked back for 2022 (which I guess means I behaved myself well enough last year to be allowed out to play again).

2) Are you a “deadlines person” outside the Sponsored Write? Is the time-limit part of the challenge or the attraction?

Dear Lord, I hate deadlines! But that’s only because I’m the main carer for my daughter, so a deadline can be thrown into utter disarray by a sudden bug at school, or the need to attend sports day, or, you know, homeschool for several months! So while I find deadlines quite useful from a writer’s POV because they help me to focus and avoid procrastination, I always ensure that any deadline I agree to has enough spare capacity in case I end up looking after my daughter due to unforeseen circumstances.

For me, the time-limit for the Sponsored Write is such a unique form of deadline that it makes the whole process take on a different feel. When I think of the writing process, I think of that timeline graph where there’s a big long stretch of procrastination, then panic, then working like crazy, and then the deadline. https://www.beapplied.com/post/procrastinate-your-way-into-your-dream-job-part-1-of-2 But there’s no time to procrastinate with the sponsored write – and no chance to abandon an idea and start a new one if the first one doesn’t work out!

But I have to admit, it gets results. Each writer producing a whole short story in a few hours that almost immediately goes to publication – it’s an amazing achievement all round.

3) Many of the writers involved have personal connections with Macmillan Cancer Support. Do you have experience of the charity’s work?

I don’t personally, but I know plenty of people with cancer who’ve been incredibly grateful for the work of Macmillan. They are a company tackling one of the most important issues in medicine today, and I’m happy to support them for everyone out there – present and future – who faces cancer. 

4) What’s it like being in a Sponsored Write?

It’s really good fun! Even though this year I can’t make the whole day itself, I’ll certainly be logging on to say hi to everyone as it’s such a great atmosphere. Writing can be a lonely business, but events like this remind you that there are other people out there with the same experiences and frustrations as you. It’s a great way to be creative and connect with others. 

5) What do you make of this year’s theme, ‘Constant Renewal’?

I think it’s a great choice – well done Ramsey! It’s a theme central to everyone’s life. In so many little ways – as well as big ones – our lives are constantly renewing. There’s no standing still, which can be both invigorating and challenging. 

Sometimes a renewal in life can be welcome, like a snake shedding its old skin. Sometimes it can be painful, as we have to let go of the familiar. But it’s always intriguing, and it’s a great theme for writers to play with. 

You Don’t Have to Burn Out in Order to Shine.

[ AUGUST RECOMMENDED READING!
Catch me being interviewed in the new Black Shuck Books newsletter about my new collection of short stories, coming 2023, and about this year’s Green Ink Sponsored Write for Macmillan Cancer Support. ]

Anybody reading this who’s written anything, ever – from a letter to a shopping list, let alone a book – already knows achieving an 85,000 word-count doesn’t mean ‘reaching’ 85,00 perfect words in their perfect order, falling freely from brain to page.

It means writing way more words than that, cutting them down, rewriting them as other, shorter, better routes to what you see and mean in your head, that you’d never have found without getting it out of your head and onto the pages in the first place. It’s a spiral, not a circle: you’re always getting closer to the truest form of the thing in your mind. But it’s a journey you need to enjoy for its own sake, and not get too fixated on the destination. Much like life off the page, if you wait for it to be perfect before you celebrate it, you’ll be missing a lot of the best bits.

So, was I up to 85,000 when my friend took this picture over cocktails last week? NO, no I was not! But will I be handing more, and better, in as a result on 31 August? YES! Yes, I will! Because I will get there. Because, rather than only ‘reward’ myself with time out, I’m ‘fuelling’ myself with time out. I wouldn’t be the writing coach, or the writer, I am if I didn’t keep an eye on the emotional fuel gauge as well as on the horizon – that’s my job whoever my coachee is, including when it is myself. That way, when I come back to the desk, it will be with clearer, calmer eyes. And when I hand the stories in, they will be good enough. Not perfect. Never perfect. Not ready for publication, even. Because that’s when my editor and I start making them even better.

Because nothing we’ve ever read and loved was ever done completely alone, and we don’t need to burn out in order to shine. Nor do we need to find out if it’s all okay before we celebrate the journey. It will be okay. It probably already is.Green Ink Writers’ Gym students will be joining bestselling, award-winning authors Sophie Hannah, Jennifer Steil, Charlotte Bond and many, many more for a day of sponsored writing fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. I will be writing in memory of my friend Sophie Porter, grandfather Abraham Banks and uncles David and Jeremy Banks.

When you donate to Macmillan through our Justgiving page, every penny goes the charity and you’ll receive a world-exclusive anthology of new stories from the writers. BUT the anthology and the page are only available until the end of the writing day! Please help us help Macmillan Cancer Support, here. 
Is someone you know looking to build confidence and clarity in their life, work and art this autumn? 

Rewire your “what if…” circuitry away from anxiety and towards engagement with your goals, values and personality. Each session will be a mix of practical coaching tools and creative exercises to get you more comfortable in your driving seat for art, work and life.Week 1: Goal-setting
Sometimes a busy or stressful time means dealing with the ‘immediate’ in our lives constantly and the ‘important’ more rarely. This can mean what we want takes a back-seat to what we fear. Today is a chance to connect with each other, reconnect with ourselves and explore relaxing and intriguing coaching tools to focus on what you enjoy, love, value, and what steps can connect your wishes and hopes to your habits and goals for the work, art and life you want. Week 2: Characterisation – in Life and Art!
Who are the characters that we carry in our minds, whose opinions, wishes and values affect our decision-making? Both in our fiction and day-to-day life, today is an opportunity to get to know those voices, ask what they want, and ask yourself whether you still want them as major or minor characters. Enjoy a mix of exercises to bring your own voice out of the chorus, and actively select which voices get to stay in your backing group! Week 3: Plotting – The Story So Far
Today we explore the relationship between character and plot: how events create characters, but also how characters, as they change, change the world around them as a result. Enjoy a mix of practical exercises, story tools and problem-solving activities to make your story grow your way. These techniques will work for decisions on the page as well as those you make in work, at home and with family and friends.Week 4: Time and Place
Today we’ll look at what it means to feel present in your life and story, and how that sense of being present allows you to experience and utilise your time. Make un-rushed, value-centred choices about what you do, how and who you spend your time with and what you give space to in life and on the page. Explore and develop incisive questions for your unique story, on the page and off it!Week 5: Freedom Not Fear: Approaching the Blank Page
When you are clear about your character’s objective, it’s much easier to know what dialogue and actions they will select. This is just as true in life as it is on the page or on the stage. Today, we’ll be using tools, activities and resources to explore self-direction and value-aligned action. Bring “show don’t tell” into your boundaries in work and life, and into the quality of your creative and professional writing.Week 6: Moving Forward
A celebration and summary of the discoveries you’ve made in art, work and life. Requests welcome for any favourite exercises to revisit, as we honour the journeys so far and plan for what happens next. Looking back to goal-setting in week 1, what are the things that were important to you then and how are you going to keep the ‘important’ above water when the ‘immediate’ is all around? 
Book your course or package here.
On the page, in conversation, from email to switchboard to boardroom to treading the boards, clear and confident communication are the world’s most transferable skills. Coaching is a confidential, supportive space to clarify and discover what you want and how to align your choices to your goals. If you want to celebrate who you are and what you mean, I’d love to support you.

All the best,

Rachel 

Dr Rachel Knightley
www.RachelKnightley.comYour Writing and Coaching Community
Membership of any autumn course entitles you not only to your six-week writing course but to as many of our Zoom writing retreats and online socials as you like, as well as 20% off all 1:1 coaching and editorial support booked during your membership. Each writer will have a minimum of two reading slots to present work-in progress for discussion and feedback. You’ll also be emailed full session content for any sessions you miss. Enquire here…

Choose the Ideas that Choose You

I’ve often told people over the years that I’m prouder of passing my driving test than I am of my BA, MA or PhD. 

It’s absolutely not because I liked my driving test the most. In fact, I haven’t used my license for years – because I work from home, because I live in London and because, with the whole of my soul, I hate driving. Many of my friends relish being in control of a vehicle; they feel calmed by the activity of focusing their mind and reactions on the road. I’m repelled by knowing these machines can’t be reasoned with; that I and those around me are at the mercy of mindless button-pushing, with a margin for human error as small as it is deadly! I’d much rather discuss, argue and develop stories and concepts into being, putting something unique in the world that wasn’t there before and never would be if I didn’t develop it. That’s why, at least for me, spending five years on a thesis was always going to be more calming than driving to the supermarket!

Somehow, though, I did it. I suffered for my not-art and passed my theory and practical tests. I have my licence, it’s there (somewhere) in my desk, whether I choose it to be part of my life or not. And because of that, I know something far more important: it is possible to achieve your personal ‘impossible”, and to experience the chain reaction of confidence that begins: “I thought I couldn’t  do that, and I did, so perhaps I can do this next thing too…” Just as the writing and presenting I do for Indicator Films might terrify someone about to do their first work presentation, the right coaching turns an ‘impossible’ into an ‘interesting’, and a dream into a more-than-achievable goal.

If you’re ready to build confidence and grab lifelong tools to keep your voice clear and your choices authentic in work, art and life, Rewire Your What-ifs is for you. Secure your place now or nab a giveaway on Instagram at 6pm tomorrow! 


Rewire your “what if…” circuitry away from anxiety and towards engagement with your goals, values and personality. Each session will be a mix of practical coaching tools and creative exercises to get you more comfortable in your driving seat for art, work and life.
Week 1: Goal-setting
Sometimes a busy or stressful time means dealing with the ‘immediate’ in our lives constantly and the ‘important’ more rarely. This can mean what we want takes a back-seat to what we fear. Today is a chance to connect with each other, reconnect with ourselves and explore relaxing and intriguing coaching tools to focus on what you enjoy, love, value, and what steps can connect your wishes and hopes to your habits and goals for the work, art and life you want. 
Week 2: Characterisation – in Life and Art!
Who are the characters that we carry in our minds, whose opinions, wishes and values affect our decision-making? Both in our fiction and day-to-day life, today is an opportunity to get to know those voices, ask what they want, and ask yourself whether you still want them as major or minor characters. Enjoy a mix of exercises to bring your own voice out of the chorus, and actively select which voices get to stay in your backing group! 
Week 3: Plotting – The Story So Far
Today we explore the relationship between character and plot: how events create characters, but also how characters, as they change, change the world around them as a result. Enjoy a mix of practical exercises, story tools and problem-solving activities to make your story grow your way. These techniques will work for decisions on the page as well as those you make in work, at home and with family and friends.
Week 4: Time and Place
Today we’ll look at what it means to feel present in your life and story, and how that sense of being present allows you to experience and utilise your time. Make un-rushed, value-centred choices about what you do, how and who you spend your time with and what you give space to in life and on the page. Explore and develop incisive questions for your unique story, on the page and off it!
Week 5: Freedom Not Fear: Approaching the Blank Page
When you are clear about your character’s objective, it’s much easier to know what dialogue and actions they will select. This is just as true in life as it is on the page or on the stage. Today, we’ll be using tools, activities and resources to explore self-direction and value-aligned action. Bring “show don’t tell” into your boundaries in work and life, and into the quality of your creative and professional writing.
Week 6: Moving Forward
A celebration and summary of the discoveries you’ve made in art, work and life. Requests welcome for any favourite exercises to revisit, as we honour the journeys so far and plan for what happens next. Looking back to goal-setting in week 1, what are the things that were important to you then and how are you going to keep the ‘important’ above water when the ‘immediate’ is all around? 

Trigger Warnings: 1) Poor Communication 2) Dentistry!

On Wednesday afternoon, just before the last Green Ink Writers’ Gym workshop of term, I had an unexpected experience that reinforced for me why communication is the world’s most transferable life skill.

I was going for a very small cap replacement with my dentist. I’d just had a “gold star” from my lovely dental hygienist and just needed the replacement that had been put off as non-urgent during lockdown and then again – because of just how non-urgent it was – but today was the day. I told my dentist I was nervous, because it helps to tell people. She was only trying to be helpful, but what she did was make the decision (without asking me) that the way to make me less nervous was maximum aesthetic. Actually, it isn’t pain that makes me nervous – it’s not knowing what’s coming! In life as in the dentist chair, give me information about what’s coming and I won’t be scared anymore! But she made a different assumption, rather than asking for or giving it first. When the fairly short procedure was over she told me what she’d done. With only the left side of my mouth, I said I was supposed to be going back to work. She looked shocked, verging on terrified.

(I didn’t mention I was a communication coach, as that would have felt a tad passive aggressive at that point!)

I had to postpone the private session I was due to coach that afternoon. My client was very understanding (people usually are when you fully communicate with them!). But the choice to postpone is never a great one for a freelancer and if I’d been given options I would have felt respected and in control, whatever option I picked. As it was, I moved my 1:1 coaching session then told my evening workshop group what had happened. The anaesthetic had mostly worn off, they’d probably not have noticed, but the option of communication shows them I trust and value them, and reassures me.

But here’s why I’m glad it happened. It’s an absolute reminder of why I do what I do. No matter your job, industry, age, background, career, strengths or goals, discovering how to ask the right questions of your clients, family and friends is the greatest life lesson and the shortest route to every goal.

And next time, maybe that dentist will offer options and information, and ask questions about what a patient is nervous of, so decide rather than assume what will help. That’s the path from assumptions to empathy. And it’s very good for business as well as personal life!Join Our Writing Community…
A Green Ink Writers’ Gym term membership of any autumn course entitles you not only to your six-week writing course but to as many of our Zoom writing retreats and online socials as you like, as well as 20% off all 1:1 coaching and editorial support booked during your membership. Each writer will have a minimum of two reading slots to present work-in progress for discussion and feedback. You’ll also be emailed full session content for any sessions you miss.
Week 1: Writing Mindset: Using Your Artist’s Palette
Mastering access to the full range of memory and imagination that every writer mixes to create their unique voice and story. Exercises to liberate and encourage free movement around your thoughts, feelings and questions about the world all of which will inform your stories.Week 2: Through These Eyes: Getting to Know Your Protagonist
Your central character is the reader’s – and writer’s – eyes and ears on the world. Whether they’re based closely on you or not like you at all, this week’s exercises and extracts will help you use your own life, thoughts and feelings as fuel to discover who they are and where they’re taking the story.Week 3: Raising Personal Stakes: Plot and Theme for Fiction and Memoir
What your story is about will be the essence of what your character has to face. Developing on what you’ve learnt about them, today we ask what’s the worst thing that can happen to them, who they are (or want to be) and how do they grow by the events of the plot?Week 4: Framing the JourneyBeginnings and Endings
The more you know about your characters, plot and theme, the freer you will be to decide how you want to present your story to your reader. Should it be chronological? Or is there a later event that, if revealed earlier, will ensure we’re hooked? Explore different shapes and routes your story’s journey could take.Week 5: Short and Long Form: A Moment or a Process?
Today we’ll explore the differences between short and long-form memoir and fiction. We’ll use techniques to identify the key moment of change around which you can shape a compelling narrative through use of pace and momentum.Week 6: Live Editing
Select an extract of your current work-in-progress to receive live editorial feedback. Today will be a tour of the process from conceptual discussions to how, when the time comes, you will work with an editor on line-editing.Rewire your “what if…” circuitry away from anxiety and towards engagement with your goals, values and personality. Each session will be a mix of practical coaching tools and creative exercises to get you more comfortable in your driving seat for art, work and life.Week 1: Goal-setting
Sometimes a busy or stressful time means dealing with the ‘immediate’ in our lives constantly and the ‘important’ more rarely. This can mean what we want takes a back-seat to what we fear. Today is a chance to connect with each other, reconnect with ourselves and explore relaxing and intriguing coaching tools to focus on what you enjoy, love, value, and what steps can connect your wishes and hopes to your habits and goals for the work, art and life you want. Week 2: Characterisation – in Life and Art!
Who are the characters that we carry in our minds, whose opinions, wishes and values affect our decision-making? Both in our fiction and day-to-day life, today is an opportunity to get to know those voices, ask what they want, and ask yourself whether you still want them as major or minor characters. Enjoy a mix of exercises to bring your own voice out of the chorus, and actively select which voices get to stay in your backing group! Week 3: Plotting – The Story So Far
Today we explore the relationship between character and plot: how events create characters, but also how characters, as they change, change the world around them as a result. Enjoy a mix of practical exercises, story tools and problem-solving activities to make your story grow your way. These techniques will work for decisions on the page as well as those you make in work, at home and with family and friends.Week 4: Time and Place
Today we’ll look at what it means to feel present in your life and story, and how that sense of being present allows you to experience and utilise your time. Make un-rushed, value-centred choices about what you do, how and who you spend your time with and what you give space to in life and on the page. Explore and develop incisive questions for your unique story, on the page and off it!Week 5: Freedom Not Fear: Approaching the Blank Page
When you are clear about your character’s objective, it’s much easier to know what dialogue and actions they will select. This is just as true in life as it is on the page or on the stage. Today, we’ll be using tools, activities and resources to explore self-direction and value-aligned action. Bring “show don’t tell” into your boundaries in work and life, and into the quality of your creative and professional writing.Week 6: Moving Forward
A celebration and summary of the discoveries you’ve made in art, work and life. Requests welcome for any favourite exercises to revisit, as we honour the journeys so far and plan for what happens next. Looking back to goal-setting in week 1, what are the things that were important to you then and how are you going to keep the ‘important’ above water when the ‘immediate’ is all around? 
 
To book for these courses, visit the Writers’ Gym website or if you have any questions at all just let me know.You could even discuss your goals and wishes over a free 30-minute Zoom chat. I’d love to support you achieving your goals in life, work and art alike.

The Answer to Where You are Going is the Same as the Answer to How You Will Get There

The answer to where you are going is the same as the answer to how you will get there:

One authentic step at a time.

Every journey, every voice, is unique. Your coach doesn’t choose your path, or walk it for you. They will be there to hold your map, keep one finger on the destination you’ve picked, and make sure you stay emotionally hydrated…but it is always your journey. 

If you’re looking to build confidence in person or on the page, grab a free 30-minute intro chat on my homepage or say help via the contact form. I look forward to supporting you on your unique journey. ✍️

✍️✍️✍️✍️✍️

#writing #speaking #confidence #confidencecoaching #author #coaching #writingcoaching #speakingcoach #writingcoach #confidencecoach 

#mondaymotivation #richmondlife #petershamnurseries #transferableskills #lifeskills #softskills #writeyourstory #speakyourmind #speakyourtruth #walkyourownpath

Why Vulnerability is Strength

Next Monday evening is the last of our current sessions at the Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond. I feel very lucky that my first outside-world coaching post-Lockdowns has been somewhere so welcoming and friendly, and will miss my weekly view onto the Thames, not to mention the lovely group of enthusiastic and thoughtful new writers.  

Friendly, safe and welcoming as we feel every moment we’re inside, I’ve also looked with fascination at a particular image I see outside in the darkening evening, overlooking the river along with me. When you look at the tree below, as I have every Monday, do you see someone bent and overwhelmed by the sheer weight of open sky, as I did in Week 1? Or do you see a different, calmer story? Or something else entirely?
My favourite tree looking over the Thames by the grounds of Bingham Riverhouse. To join our final session this Monday, just email the venue.
Though I never tire of looking, I see that tree very differently from week to week. Like any writing prompt, there is no wrong answer. But equally true is that there is no obvious answer. What one person immediately sees will not occur to the next, and visa versa.

While creativity coaching ‘obviously’ (ha!) relies on that principle, I’ve been thinking a lot this week about how work and life do just as much as art – and how we’re often even more in need of that reminder. With my clients and with myself, I often notice how sharing a question or process aloud can often streamline, simplify or solve it. Not because it takes someone else to show us how to make a molehill out of an apparent mountain, but because what we mos want is often the last thing we’re conditioned to take notice of – even though our solutions will often lie in that territory.

Last month I mentioned my favourite definition of coaching is “witnessing and supporting a client’s thinking process: challenging limiting beliefs, identifying goals and supporting development in life and work.” The coach does not need to be more experienced than the client in their line of work, or in their life (that would be impossible!). The coach’s job is to help the client explore their own thinking in a confidential, dedicated space and time to think and feel, fully and freely.


On Saturday 26 March, 2pm GMT on Zoom, my very lovely friend and colleagueKate Shenton is running a screenwriting workshop for Green Ink Writers’ Gym. Whether you’re totally new to screenwriting (or to writing at all!), or if looking to build confidence in your voice and concept, this will be a lovely place to explore your potential. Sign up via Green Ink Writers’ Gym’s meetup group page here.
For anyone curious about coaching and what the experience could do for you, I’m currently offering half-price chemistry sessions where coach and client explore whether they want to work with each other. If you or someone you know would like to explore their goals, blocks and dreams for work, art or life,
 just quote “newsletter discount”.

If you would like more information on anything in this newsletter, please do get in touch.

All the best,

Rachel 

Dr Rachel Knightley
www.RachelKnightley.com

On International Women’s Day 2022

In 2015/2016, my self-esteem through the floor and the relationship and job I thought were lifelong both over, I met one of the writers in this pile.

She became my editor for one anthology, introduced me to my next editor who included me in two further anthologies so making me a colleague of another of the writers in this pile (and later published my first collection). 

Remembering the passions and strengths I had, thanks in a very large part to the warmth and regard of a writing community who genuinely celebrate and support each other, was a life lesson that brought me to the next step in my career: coaching training with the company of, yep, another of the writers in this pile.

Everyone here, those I know and those I don’t, brought me back to myself and to how I pay that forward. 

Happy #internationalwomensday everybody, I’m proud to be in a pile with all of you.

#internationalwomensday2022 #writingcommunity #writing #coaching #writingcoach