Do you find yourself staring at the blank page, unable to create because you’re terrified to start or because you can’t get dollar signs or rejection slips out of your mind? Do you long for female community?
This was me in 2015. Even though I’d called myself a professional writer for well over a decade, I felt disconnected from the reason I started in the first place. I believed there was no solution to the unrelenting fears surrounding my writing. I had completely lost touch with the little girl who scribbled her dreams in a journal every night and published stories in a newsletter she created for her friends. I saw writing only as a way to make money. Words felt like enemies and I constantly judged my writing success with other women’s, completely eradicating my creativity and silencing my voice. I was drowning.
Then, my friend Lise invited me to attend a women’s writing retreat in the woods outside of Montreal. This was not a retreat focused on critique. Some of the women were beginners. So at first I was skeptical. How could this possibly be useful? How could my novel and stories improve if people didn’t tell me what was bad about them? And how could I learn from women who hadn’t made writing their vocation? But guided by prompts and exercises that caused me to really meditate on why I love to write, I let myself take risks with my work. I started to remember how kick-ass it felt to put words on the page. The words didn’t have to be perfect or pretty. I let myself be playful. I shared with women who were total strangers, who encouraged me and reminded me how powerful it is when a group of ladies gather together to celebrate the written word. And most of all, I learned just as much from the new writers as I did from the experienced ones.
I returned home with some of the rawest work of my life, work that has ended up becoming a middle grade novel about my biggest secret. Deep in my bones, I knew I’d finally reconnected with the little girl who typed 100 page stories about talking cats simply because she loved to tell a story. When I returned to revising my novel, I felt a surprising reverence toward my work. I felt proud to be a writer, no matter how many accolades I can add to my bio.
Over the past three years, I’ve facilitated many workshops and retreats. Now I have a wonderful female community that continues to grow and I make it my mission to connect women. Because the work I do is centered on finding a female writer’s unique voice and shaping it into her story, I found myself naturally wanting to help women write about their lives in the form of memoir. In 2017 I launched my coaching business and it is truly the work I was put here to do. I relish helping a woman zero in on her story and execute it in the form of an essay collection or a book. There is something so inspirational about sharing our experiences on the page. It’s powerful being honest and it makes us braver and more likely to take risks in our lives.
I tell all new clients: If you’re scared to tell your story, that’s a good sign. That means you have something important to say. Right now a woman is waiting to see herself in your story, to finally feel understood. Don’t waste any more time being afraid. Do it afraid. The page is waiting.