How to Find Your Best Writer 

Maria Chapman described herself as a normal everyday woman–until she turned 35 and developed a neuromuscular disease, an event which ended her career and essentially took away her hobbies. 

However, Maria took her own experiences and created a novel that gives a voice to people who aren’t necessarily and accurately represented in fiction: people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. 

Although she had inspiration and motivation to finish her novel, she still struggled to write consistently. Outlining was something that had always been difficult for her, but she was under the impression that outlining is part of a “good” writer’s process. 

Frustration, however, caught up to her. She stuck with outlining without realizing that she was fighting her own instincts. Her futile efforts to fit a certain mold of what a writer should be ultimately overshadowed her inspiration to create stories of people like her for people like her. Her dream of sharing her message to the world seemed like a far fetched dream. Publishing her first book seemed impossibly far away.

Because Maria made such little progress in her writing, she came to the difficult decision of dropping her novel. 

When she heard me speak at a writer’s conference, she had a sudden realization: outlining was not for her. She was, instead, a pantser–a writer who writes “by the seat of their pants” instead of using an outline. 

Maria reached out to me and after our chat, she accepted my invitation to join the Writing Gym. 

When we started working together, she realized that structuring her writing upfront leads her to create a lackluster product. Fighting her instincts with structure felt restraining. She was so caught up in the mixed messages she was getting about what a “good” writer should be that she couldn’t find her best writer. At the Writing Gym, she found her own method–one that doesn’t compromise her instincts.   

The book that I wrote is, in my mind, part of a 3-book series. I already know where books two and three are going, but I’m not worried about sitting down and plotting them out. Because all I know is that when it comes time to write, I’ll just sit down and write. I’ve gotten to a point where I can just sit at the doctor’s office waiting room, I can write 500 words. I think it’s because I’m always in this state of flow and I don’t have to work too much to get there at this point. It was really something I had to work towards when I just started at the Writing Gym.

Rather than forcing her to outline from start to finish, we helped her develop her natural instincts and unique skills as a pantser until she felt comfortable in her own process. While our writing professionals had a major role in Maria’s progress, our very own community of writers (with a few who are fellow pantsers) have also encouraged her to trust her inner voice. 

In fact, from just one particular writing salon in the Writing Gym at our program, she discovered her unique method of writing: “There was a certain feeling that I wanted to get to. So, I wrote the last line first. And filled in everything else.” 

From this one salon, Maria found the whole structure of her novel. She spent a week writing the last scene and filled in everything else in between. During this process, she was able to see major plot holes and the flow of her storyline.

For her, finding her own writing method has been the most rewarding part of her time in the Writing Gym. She finished her novel, a women’s fiction featuring a disabled female protagonist. 

She sees her time with us as an investment in her writing career and she creates a powerful distinction between spending and investing:

Since I’ve started the Writing Gym, I started to write more, faster, and better quality. And because I’m able to do those three things, I’m able to produce more content, so I’m making more money. It’s not money that you’re spending. It’s money that you’re investing. The stuff stays with you. It’s not like I just spent the money and it’s gone. I invested the money on skills that I needed to be better at the work that I’m doing. As long as my brain is still functional, this investment is still working for me.

At the Writing Gym, we don’t force you to fit a certain mold. We help you to discover your best writer–to write with your brain rather than against it.

If you are ready to seriously invest in yourself, to find your own writing method, to live that author lifestyle, the Writing Gym may be the right fit for you. I’ve opened some time over the next couple of weeks to talk with writers who are serious about their craft. You can book yourself directly into my calendar, and we hop on a call to talk about where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you can get there. 

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