A Bestselling Writer & Acclaimed Writing Coach Shares Her #1 Tip for Getting Started and Avoiding Writer’s Block

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Bestselling writer and successful writing coach Linden Gross dishes the dirt on the writing coach phenomenon, provides guidelines on how to choose a writing coach, and shares her top tip for helping writers jumpstart the writing process and avoid writer's block.

Best-selling writer and acclaimed writing coach Linden Gross

Just as no two writers work the same way, writing coaches have different styles. Some writing coaches don’t even read what their clients write. That’s like writing about food that you don’t taste.

Google the phrase "sloppy letter" and diatribes against the practice of careless correspondence pop up. So it will probably come as a surprise to learn that to jumpstart the writing process and avoid writer's block, bestselling writer Linden Gross advises all her writing coach clients to write her sloppy letters. “The sloppier, the better,” she says.

“Most writers are so concerned about the quality of their work that the quality of their work suffers,” says Gross, who draws on her background in editing, writing and teaching when working with others. “Ideas and creativity don’t flow in the face of self-criticism. And how do you discover your own voice if you’re constantly judging its flaws? All that spawns is doubt and eventually immobilization and writer’s block. The Sloppy Letter to Linden diffuses all those self-imposed constraints.”

The rules are simple. Clients can’t worry about spelling, grammar, language, sentence structure, repetition, logic or anything else. They just write as fast and as long as they want, or until they’ve brought Linden up to speed about themselves and their project, including why it’s important to them, what they’re trying to say and/or accomplish, and any other background information that might be helpful.

Some people finish this writer's block busting brain dump in less than an hour. Others work on it for months. “Whether they wind up with whole chunks of prose that drop right into their manuscripts, find the voice they’ve spent months or years struggling to cultivate, or simply relax, without exception writers find the exercise liberating,” says Gross. “After all, how can you sweat something that’s supposed to be sloppy?

“Try the sloppy letter exercise the next time you need to jumpstart—or restart—your writing,” she adds. “Or join the growing number of writers who are turning to writing coaches for writing help.”

People often assume that hiring a writing coach implies that they’re incapable of writing on their own and need hand-holding. That may be true, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a writing coach relationship extends way beyond encouraging aspiring or veteran writers, holding them accountable or even teaching them about the craft of writing and providing writing tips. It’s like having a partner on their creative team who has managed to retain the perspective that can so easily be lost when immersed in a big project. Writers are in the trees by definition. A writing coach still has a sense of the forest as a whole.

“To choose a writing coach who will work for you, first find one who shares your vision,” says Gross. “Second, find a writing coach who fulfills your needs. Just as no two writers work the same way, writing coaches have different styles. Some writing coaches don’t even read what their clients write, which puzzles me to no end. That’s like writing about food you never taste.”

Gross does more than read her clients’ work and help them bolster their writing skills. She offers a willing ear, feedback, encouragement and when absolutely necessary a reality check. And though each writer has his or her strengths and weaknesses that need to be addressed in a manner befitting the person and the situation, there’s one piece of advice that she gives every writer: Quit judging yourself and your work so harshly.

She believes that a writing coach should:

  •     Critique pages already written and provide ongoing feedback re: the growing pile of new ones;
  •     Help writers organize their thoughts, enrich their work and find their voice—whether they’re just beginning or have a full draft;
  •     Facilitate a project’s development, including brainstorming about ideas, story arc, plot, character development and more;
  •     Help design a realistic schedule and hold clients accountable to target goals and dates;
  •     Keep them motivated and focused;
  •     Give perspective when they become derailed or discouraged;
  •     Provide writing tips to help clients focus as they work on the next installment;
  •     Direct rewrite(s)—a fact of life for every writer, no matter how experienced;
  •     Guide writers through the publishing (or self-publishing) maze;
  •     Encourage them every step of the way.

That’s what she does.

To learn more about Linden Gross' writing coach and editorial services, visit http://www.lindengross.com.


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Linden Gross is the writer behind national bestseller The Legacy of Luna"A book to read and then lend to others" says The Los Angeles Times.Linden Gross is the writer behind national bestseller The Legacy of Luna. Written in just twelve weeks, this gripping and moving memoir chronicles Julia "Butterfly" HIll's extraordinary two-year tree-sit to save a 200-foot redwood tree named Luna. Despite an aversion to heights, Gross climbed up to Luna's 100-foot platform to get a first-hand taste of the tree-sitting experience.Ms. Cahill for Congress, co-authored by Linden GrossLinden Gross co-authored this inspiring story of an exceptional teacher who proved that anyone really can run for office–and even without money or connections, make a difference in a great many lives. Gross' recent collaboration with Tierney Cahill, a sixth-grade teacher who ran for Congress on a dare from her students, was one of Random House's main releases in fall, 2008. Ms. Cahill for Congress tells the remarkable true tale of a teacher who ran a grassroots campaign for Congress from her classroom. The story is slated to be made into a movie starring Halle Berry titled "Class Act."Surviving a Stalker by Linden GrossThe first book ever written about the stalking of ordinary people still helps save lives.Each year, 3.4 million Americans are stalked. Most remain in the dark not knowing where to turn. That ignorance can put those stalked, their families, friends and even co-workers at risk. Surviving a Stalker: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Yourself Safe by Linden Gross is the first book ever written about the stalking of ordinary people. Updated. revised and re-titled in 2000, this book still holds up as the quintessential resource on understanding a dynamic that destroys too many lives.Bestselling writer and acclaimed writing coahc Linden Gross helps clients write and edit their books, as well as providing marketing--and even publishing--assistance.Every writer--and every book--deserves a little incubating. Bestselling writer and acclaimed writing coach Linden Gross helps clients write and edit their books, as well as providing marketing--and even publishing--assisitance. Bestselling writer and popular writing coach Linden Gross is also an on demand publisher.Linden Gross not only empowers writers, she publishes them. Incubation Press specializes in on demand publishing. Clients—whether family historians ordering 10 to 20 copies of their story, authors ordering dozens of review copies of their manuscript, or commercial enterprises ordering hundreds of copies of promotional booklets—receive their quality printed and bound trade paperbacks within days. All retain 100 percent of their rights and 100 percent control of this easy and economical publishing process.