I was an editor of my high school newspaper and thought I was pretty big stuff. Really, I probably just had a half-way better grasp of grammar than the average 16-year-old, which isn’t saying much. But part of my job was reviewing each article, marking up the grammar, and talking with the writer about how to revise the article.
This is how I met Jack.
Jack was one of those crazy, goofy, class clown types who offended everyone equally, with a smile on his face, so everyone loved him. He wrote the humor column for our high school newspaper, which was basically a series of random tirades about absurd things happening around the school – the parking lot traffic at lunch time or the secret closets where you could nap between classes – and the other students loved it. Honestly, probably 50% of our readership probably came from his column alone.
The problem? Jack had hands-down the worst grammar I’d ever seen written on paper. I still laugh and shake my head when I think of some of the corrections I made on his articles. I would mark up his article, and we’d spend at least 20-30 minutes going over a 500-word article together, partly because he was joking most of the time.
At first, I thought I was the one saving Jack’s articles, and maybe in a sense I was. I took his nearly incomprehensible grammar and spelling and rewrote it so that a literate person could actually understand his jokes. Let me tell you – grammar is important to a punch line!
But, looking back, I think Jack taught me more about writing than I realized back then.
He taught me that sometimes the best writing isn’t really about following grammar rules and knowing when to use a comma.
The best writing has a unique voice, a spirit, and liveliness to it that runs beneath the structure. You can always clean up error-riddled prose, but you can’t always infuse life into dead words, no matter how correct they are.
Fast forward through a B.A., an M.A., and six years working as a freelance, independent editor, and I’ve come full circle to the lessons that I began to understand back in high school. (Life is funny like that, right?)
Sometimes, a writer needs more than an editor. Sometimes, a writer needs a coach.
Now, my greatest passion is helping writers to convey their own voice in writing. There’s a myth out there, that the best authors are “gifted” writers, that writing just comes “naturally” to them, that golden prose pours out of their fingers.
The truth, though, is that the best writing does not come from witty phrases and flowing metaphors, but from a unique voice, a spirit, and a liveliness. The only way to write compelling prose is to have a message that you deeply desire to communicate to your audience. The rest – the grammar, the structure, even the logic – can all evolve through writing and re-writing.
If you know, really know, that you have a message or a story or a truth that you want to share with the world, but you don’t know how to convey it, no amount of editing will ever help.
If you find yourself procrastinating constantly, unsure of what the next step even is in your writing, no copyeditor can show you the way.
If you are too early on in the stages of your writing project to share it with colleagues or friends because you’re worried they’ll completely misunderstand the point and then bash it to pieces, no editor can give you the confidence you need to keep writing.
You have to deeply connect with your own voice, your unique spirit, and allow your individual liveliness to come through in your writing. And, honestly, a writing coach is one of the few people in your life who will be able to understand your project, help you find the words to communicate to your reader, and keep your message in tact.
Here’s the deal, and it’s a limited time offer kind of deal
Truth time. I don’t like selling my services. I don’t like being that person who says, “Hire me! I’m a writing coach and editor. I can help!”
But I have dedicated my life to helping authors with their writing projects, and the only way to connect with writers is to tell them that they can hire me and that I will help bring their projects to fruition. That’s just how life works, right?
If any of this article has rung true in your ears, I’m here to say that I can help you. I would love the chance to talk to you about your writing project. I would be honored to help you connect more deeply with your message and purpose in writing. I would consider it a privilege to help you craft your prose in a way that communicates clearly while keeping your unique voice in tact.
This week I’m offering a special discount on three months of writing coaching with me. You can read the details of what writing coaching looks like, whether it’s a good fit for you and your current writing project, and the price here.
Together, we can finish your writing project.