|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 Journey: Beginnings 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:
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
|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,
Dr Rachel Knightley
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
The time I was first conscious of wanting a coaching qualification was shortly before Lockdown, when I was telling a client what coaching was not.
This is a pretty common experience partly because coaching, like mental health or creative writing, is a young enough profession that the benefits and vocabulary aren’t as familiar or established in most people’s minds as other professional areas. But it’s also because the lines between coaching, mentoring (at one end) and psychotherapy (at the other) aren’t always immediately clear.
A key 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!). Nor does the client need to come with a problem requiring “treatment” as such (if a coach thinks a new or existing client would be better served by a psychotherapist, we’re bound by ICF regulations to refer them and not to take the work). As a coach, my job is to explore what the client wants, how their thinking process plays out and – in life, work or art – any blocks that might be holding them back.
At the end of March, I’ll be completing Barefoot Coaching’s accredited training course in Business and Personal Coaching. Studying to become a coach means receiving as well as giving a lot of coaching from tutors and peers, and I can’t begin to do justice to how much respect I have for how well they understand how people think, feel and learn. It’s truly been both the safest and most exhilarating educational experience of my life.
Until I reach my 100 hours that allow me to qualify as a PCC (Professionally Certified Coach), I’ll be 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”.
For many of us, it’s been harder than ever to find our way back down that rabbit hole.
It isn’t a lack of ideas. That’s the one thing it categorically isn’t. Ever. Selecting a starting point from among every memory, every emotion and every question we’ve ever had about the world, and then for that small voice to stay louder and clearer than the self-doubt, stress and overwhelm long enough to follow, was never as simple as ‘just write a sentence’…
…until it is. When you do it because you’re curious. Not because you’re sure where it’s going, or sure you’re worthy, or aren’t feeling overwhelmed and overshadowed. Just because you’re curious. You write a sentence, to find out what happens next.
It’s been harder for a lot of writers these last two years, and different for all. But when the time comes, when the rabbit hole calls, listen. There’s one way out of writer’s block: curiosity.
From Enhance Your Edit course material, 2022
This is a ‘This Is Why I Do What I Do’ moment.
In 2020 I ran #WriteThroughLockdown, a series of (free) daily writing prompts and (also free) weekly writing and drawing socials for whoever wanted creativity and community in their lives.
Diana Thompson joined those sessions to paint and draw in the company of new friends of all ages, industries and levels of experience. At 79, she’s just sent me a copy of her memoir￼ collection. Having joined the group as a painter, and not considering herself a writer, she has not only become a @greeninkwritersgym student and created and shared this unique and lasting gift for her family and friends but, for 2022, has accepted my challenge of sending off her short stories for competitions ans publications.
To anyone who has ever said ‘you can’t teach creative writing’: you can coach courage, curiosity, empathy and resilience. Writing better and better is just one of the things that happens on the other side of that.
I don’t make it on to the #seargentpepperslonelyheartsclubband anniversary cover, which for a #beatles fan feels like letting the side down — but I do get to explore my own stomping ground of southwest London with new eyes on the JTrails tour of Richmond and its hidden Jewish history.
On similar geographical territory in this issue, you’ll also meet #virginiawoolf’s Richmond retreat, Clapham’s long-ignored pioneering feminist author #AmyLevy and the West Indian community’s Brixton-based photographer of choice for 40 years, Harry Jacobs.
Many thanks to Jewish Renaissance’s editor Rebecca Taylor for inviting me to be part of the anniversary edition of this ever-growing, always-fascinating magazine.
A week from yesterday, a theme will be drawn from a hat. A month after that, Green Ink Writers’ Gymstudents will join published authors across the country for Green Ink Sponsored Write 2021, for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The fallout from 2020 means charities need things like this more than ever. Please, please consider sticking the price of a coffee on our page, to sponsor a writer. Every little bit is, genuinely, a huge bit. To receive your world-exclusive digital anthology of work from Sponsored Write 2021 designed by Steve J. Shaw, please support Team 2021, Nick Baines, Charlotte Bond, Penny Jones, Roz Kaveney, Rachel Knightley, Peter Laws, Stephen Laws, Laura Mauro, John McCullough, Lisa Morton, Jackie Naffah, Katharine Orton, JJ Shippen, Jennifer Steil, Paul Tremblay and Kelly White, here: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/greeninksponsoredwite2021
I’ve only ever postponed two Green Ink Writers’ Gym workshops. One was for my second vaccination. The first was to take my oldest friend to see our beloved David Duchonvy.
Research, I tell you. Extremely early research for this latest episode of my series for Starburst Magazine, The E. I. of Sci-fi exploring the lessons in emotional intelligence we didn’t notice ourselves learning.
Here’s one lesson I don’t mention. Despite being the most grippingly atmospheric and sleekly produced series going, it never took itself too seriously. It knew how to laugh at itself as well as how to scream and cry. Sometimes it wa about clients. It was also about how to be fully, and wonderfully, human: youtu.be/HpRrYgLWyLg