Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

I’m looking forward to celebrating the holidays with family and friends before attending the Key West Literary Seminar. The theme this year is food (something I love) and I will be in a poetry workshop led by poet Jane Hirshfield. As you can imagine, I can’t wait to focus on writing for ten full, sunny days. I’ll be sure to share some of what I’ve learned when I return.

As you continue your holiday shopping, you might browse through my Amazon store with literary and how-to book suggestions or consider buying a gift certificate for your favorite writer to work with me as a writing coach or to take an online class this spring semester.

Read, write and edit well over the holidays! If you’d like to guest blog here in January about something related to writing, let me know. I welcome your words.

While I won’t be blogging until I return to the office on January 19th, I will be updating the Facebook group page and answering emails (Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com). I look forward to hearing from you!

See you back here on January 19th!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Happens During a Writing Coach Appointment?

If you are interested in starting or polishing a writing project, you might find it helpful to work one-on-one with me as your writing coach.

If you’ve never worked with a writing coach before, here is an overview of what might happen during the appointment. Remember that this is a general guide, since every appointment is customized for the writer. The most successful appointments are those that are led by the client with specific questions and concerns.

As a writing coach, I am very much just that: A coach. By looking closely at the writing samples that you supply, I will pose questions and offer writing and even reading suggestions that will help you to develop your own voice and style in your writing. As I always say, if you finish our time together simply mimicking me, then I know that I haven’t done my job. This is about you.

What if you’ve never written a word before and don’t have writing samples? I’m happy to offer you prompts, resources and suggestions to help get those creative juices flowing onto the page. We can brainstorm together and then meet again to review the work you produced in response to the prompts. Of course, writing prompts can be slightly artificial ways to begin to write. You should always feel free to stray from the prompt. If the prompt brought you somewhere else, then it was a successful prompt. From the written responses, we’ll underline key words and ideas and work on ways to develop them further.

I book writing coach appointments by the hour. I spend the first part of the hour preparing for our meeting. I will read through the work that you’ve emailed to me and take notes. I prefer to receive the material 1-3 days ahead of our appointment so that I can read it more than once with some time in between. Depending on the density and level of your writing, I can usually read and make short notes on 1-10 pages in about 15-20 minutes total.

Then, we will meet (in-person, on the phone or via Skype) to discuss the material. This usually takes about 40 – 45 minutes. (If you prefer that I email you my responses, then it will take longer to type out my thoughts. I will ask for you to read through my comments and respond with questions, so that we can have a dialogue.)

During our conversation, I will first address what was done well before considering the piece as a whole and then move through the piece slowly, line by line in sections, to address both larger and smaller concerns. You are always encouraged to ask questions.

As a coach I will pose questions and comment upon sections that could be expanded or whittled down while considering the larger themes of the piece as a whole. If there are mechanical or craft issues, I will note patterns of difficulty and offer you resources to help you with your skills. I’m happy to offer you mini-lessons on various issues and suggest exercises that we can review the next time.

There is not much that I love more than writing (maybe food) and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge with my writing clients. I look forward to working together!

For more information, please see my Writing Coach page. Not ready for a one-on-one session? You might be more interested in a small, online writing class.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Give the Gift of Writing

Looking for the perfect gift for the writer in your life? Give a gift certificate that can be used towards private writing coach sessions or an online writing class.

Gift certificates are available in $20.00, $50.00 and $100.00 denominations. You can pay by check or, for an added $4.00 fee, via Paypal. A personalized certificate will be emailed or mailed to you immediately.

Gift certificates expire after one year from the date of purchase.

To order your gift certificate today, email me: ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Online Writing Classes

Registration is now open for the spring semester’s online writing classes. To save your virtual seat today, email me: Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Full course descriptions can be found here.

Creative Non-Fiction Revision
Monday, February 14 to Friday, February 25 (2 weeks)

Getting Started With Creative Writing
Monday, March 7 to Friday, March 11 (1 week)

Poetry Revision
Monday, April 11 to Friday, April 22 (2 weeks)

Don’t see what you were looking for? You might be interested in working with me on your project as your private writing coach. I am accepting new clients to start in January, 2011.

I look forward to working together!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Resources for Young Writers

Did you know that New Pages has a wonderful list of publications and contests open to young writers?

If you aren't already familiar with New Pages, I strongly encourage you to look around. There are great resources for writers, from submission opportunities to book reviews to literary magazine reviews and more.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethical Problems

"You got an ethical problem with writin' my paper? You can't handle it?"

This was a question from a potential writing client. He needed "help" with papers for his masters program at a prestigious university.

I'm sure you can guess my answer.

Please, please, please!, understand that as a professional writing coach, I will help you to develop your voice and writing skills. I will point out patterns of errors in your paper, offer you resources, examples, and more, but I won’t actually write your paper for you.

Do you really want someone to write your paper for you?

The Chronicle for Higher Education recently published The Shadow Scholar about a man who writes student papers for a living. It is both fascinating and horrifying all at once. If a student has the money and wants to hire someone to write a paper, there are writers who are willing to take the job. But what will that student do later when she has memos or emails that she must write while holding a paid position? Will she continue to pay someone to do her work? How will she get promoted, or perhaps find a job in the first place, without knowing how to formulate a clear idea and share it with others?

As a writing coach, I work to put myself out of business. If I can help writers to develop the tools to write on their own, then I know that they will be able to succeed on their own. They shouldn’t write like me, but they should know the rules and even how to break them, consciously.

If you are looking to work with a writing coach to help you to develop your (own) writing skills, I look forward to hearing from you: ChloeMiller(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Writing Prompt: Sit Still. I Dare You.

Kojo Nnamdi, from the local NPR affiliate WAMU, recently interviewed New York Times reporter Matt Richtel about the effect of using computers and other devices regularly.

The show, which I listened in the background while driving and navigating highways the other day, discussed our ability to multi-task and think. I was struck by the importance of boredom to allow our brains to create something new and, perhaps most importantly, to truly learn and retain something that we recently heard.

It is difficult for us to be still in our age of doing too many things at once. I encourage you, as a sort of pre-writing prompt, to sit and think today for at least a few minutes. Don’t check your email while you are doing it; wait to Tweet about it after you finish. Keep your body still. Don’t wander around the house putting things away or start cutting up vegetables for dinner. Just sit somewhere comfortable and let your mind wander.

You aren’t being lazy or procrastinating by sitting still. Rather, you are taking care of yourself and your mind. Perhaps, you are even pre-writing. Give yourself permission to be still.

Afterwards, you might feel refreshed and ready to start a new project. Perhaps you have the beginning of a new poem or a line that would help an older poem to come back to life. Now you are ready to go back to your day and write.

Here is the brief description of the show, which you can listen to here:

Every day Americans navigate a torrent of data. We field a barrage of work and personal emails. We update our status and check on our friends. We surf across dozens of websites. Most of us are now expert multitaskers, but some worry we're creating a generation unable to focus on specific tasks. We speak with a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who is exploring whether technology is rewiring our brains.

For more, you’ll enjoy this series of New York Times articles, “Your Brain on Computers.”
I welcome your comments below.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guest Blog?

Are you interested in writing a guest post for this blog? Perhaps you'd like to share a writing tip, writing experience, book review, interview with an author, or something else related to writing or teaching?

If you are interested in proposing a topic, please write to me directly (Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Looking forward to reading your work!