Q: WHO DID YOU TRAIN AS A COACH WITH?
I trained as with Oprah’s ‘favourite life coach,’ the inimitable Martha Beck, so much of my approach includes using her fascinating and very practical tools.
My creative coaching work with writers is also influenced by Julia Cameron, Brene Brown, Tara Mohr and Elizabeth Gilbert, as well as a wide variety of feminist thinkers and gender and sexuality therorists gleaned from my undergrad and postgraduate studies.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR OTHER QUALIFICATIONS?
I have a First class B.A. in English, a M.Phil. in Renaissance Literature from Jesus College, Cambridge and a Ph.D. (on Renassance masculinity) in English from Queen Mary, University of London and my doctorate was supervised by the late famed feminist, Prof. Lisa Jardine. I also have a Postgraduate Certificate in Education. You can read more about me here.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COACHING AND MENTORING? WHICH APPROACH DO YOU USE?
Coaching usually focusses on using tools in order to further a client’s goals and it does not particularly involve the coach’s own experiences.
However, since I work with writers, sharing my insights from own professional and creative life is useful and that is a mentoring methodology, so I mostly combine both types of work in my sessions.
Many writing coaches calling themselves that without coaching training – they are really mentors, which is fine, but just know what kind of support you want and need. Coaches can often deal with issues such as confidence and limiting beliefs more effectively as it’s part of our training.
Q: I AM IN THERAPY, CAN I STILL HAVE COACHING WITH YOU?
Generally, coaching is, as Martha Beck once told us during our training, a bit like having a physical trainer is for the body – it’s to bring an already well person to their optimum state. Therapy is what is needed then to get you to a state of wellness if you are suffering mentally, not coaching, as coaching presumes you’re already doing okay, but your life or some other area needs improvements.
However, having said that coaching is NOT therapy, if your current therapist considers you to be stable and okay to engage in coaching, I’m happy to have you as a client. Most of our work together will involve the writing craft and publishing world, but there will still be an emotional element as often why we don’t write, or other creative problems that arise, are due to negative beliefs and other personal issues – hence you need to be both willing and stable enough to face these if they arise in our sessions.
If I believe therapy would better suit your needs at this time, I will tell you, as I have your best interests at heart. You can always come and have writing coaching with me when you’re feeling stronger! I have recovered from depression myself so you need not fear any stigma when discussing these issues with me.
Q: DO I NEED TO DO ANYTHING OUTSIDE COACHING SESSIONS WHEN WORKING WITH YOU?
Yes! Writing, ha, ha, ha!
Depending on the coaching programme you chose, I can give feedback on up to 10,000 words per month of material. You don’t have to submit that much to me if you don’t want to or if circumstances are challenging, but I’d recommend making the most out of my editorial comments by giving me as much work as you can.
In that respect, you need to be ready to commit time and energy if you’re signing up for support to write a novel, memoir or book proposal as there’s a lot of work involved.
All coachees, whether they’ve signed up for programmes which include editorial feedback or not, get given tasks to work on or things to ponder in between sessions based on their personal needs and you will get more out of the process if you do your best to do them.
Q: HOW OFTEN DO COACHING SESSIONS TAKE PLACE?
I recommend twice a month to make good progress, but monthly sessions can be arranged if that’s all your schedule will permit.
Q: HOW DO I BOOK SESSIONS?
I use Satori, an online scheduler, so clients can easily book sessions with me.
My clients seem to like it, but if you have any issues, you can arrange sessions with me via email.
If you are thinking about taking a longer programme with me, you can book a free 30 minute session with me, so you can ask me questions and we can see if we’re a love match.
Q: DO YOU ALLOW FOR CANCELLATIONS OF AND REARRANGING OF SESSIONS?
Yes, up to 24 hours before our appointment. Otherwise, the session will not be able to be rebooked, unless there is a good reason, such as a family emergency.
I have Fibromyalgia, so if I am unwell and need to rebook, I will give you as much notice as possible, but if it’s less than 24 hours for any reason, I will provide another session for free on top of your package.
Q: DO YOU OFFER REFUNDS FOR PACKAGES?
Unless there is a good reason, such as serious illness, I tend not to offer refunds after the first session as I know that coaching can bring up issues that sometimes make clients want to bolt, even when they are just about to have a breakthrough.
If you think coaching with me isn’t for you after our first session though, I am happy to refund the remainder of the full fee paid, minus the cost of the first coaching hour and any editorial feedback you may have received.
Q: ARE SESSIONS CONFIDENTIAL?
I live keep all records/notes private. I will never discuss the content of our sessions with anyone else, unless you give me permission to discuss results as part of a client testimonial. I do not even tell close friends or family members if their loved ones are coaching with me as it is their decision to disclose such information.
Q: IF I SEND YOU A MANUSCRIPT FOR ASSESSMENT, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET MY REPORT? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET SOMETHING EDITED?
I aim to have reports back within a month – if they are over 100,000 word though, I ask for up to six weeks.
I try to turnaround manuscript assessments as soon as possible as I know waiting is nerve-racking, but sometimes my workload doesn’t allow for a swifter response. I can try to arrange faster turnarounds for assessments a slightly higher fee though, so please ask if this is something you require.
Line-editing timings also depend on the word count, but they usually take longer than reports as this involves detailed work. I can also try to arrange to have the project back to you more quickly if you have a deadline for a slightly higher fee, this being due to me usually having to work longer hours and weekends usually to complete projects in haste.
Q: I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH YOU, BUT NONE OF YOUR PROGRAMMES QUITE FIT THE KIND OF PROJECT I AM CREATING – DO YOU PROVIDE BESPOKE PACKAGES?
Yes, I do. Please feel free to book a free 30 minute chat with me by clicking the button to the right below and we’ll sort out a programme to suit your particular needs.
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QUESTIONS FOR SHARON
Sharon is a marvel - each session has given me exactly what I needed at the time and I'm so glad I decided to work with her as her coaching and editorial feedback have helped me achieve my long-held dream of having a literary agent.REBECCA ANN SMITH
THIS PAGE IS MEANT TO ANSWER SOME COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT THE NUTS AND BOLTS OF HOW MY WRITING COACHING AND EDITORIAL SERVICES WORK.
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE WAYS MY FEMINIST APPROACH IS DIFFERENT, YOU CAN LOOK AT THIS PAGE AND YOU CAN ALSO CHECK OUT WHAT I BELIEVE IN MY NIFTY MANIFESTO HERE.
SHOULD THERE BE ANYTHING YOU’RE NOT SURE ABOUT AFTER READING THESE PAGES, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ME BY SENDING A MESSAGE USING THE CONTACT FORM AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.
HOPE TO GET TO MEET YOU AT SOME POINT SOON IN PERSON OR ONLINE!
LONG LIVE THE LITERARY REVOLUTION!
Q: HOW DO COACHING SESSIONS TAKE PLACE?
My coaching sessions usually take place over the phone or Skype, though without video, because I don’t want my clients to feel they need to tidy up or dress up to enjoy a session with me!
I also offer online coaching, via e-mail or messenger, for those who hate talking on the phone or who are just too busy to fit hour long calls into their schedule, so if you see a coaching package you like, but you want to have it with e-coaching, instead of calls, just let me know in the booking notes. That way we can either chat ‘live’ online at the allotted time of our appointment or I can start off our e-mail coaching conversation at that point (two lengthy e-mails across a week constitutes an hour of coaching).
Q: DO I HAVE TO LIVE IN THE UK TO WORK WITH YOU? IS IT OKAY IF I AM IN ANOTHER TIMEZONE?
I am based near Brighton on the south coast of the UK, but I have coached clients from the US, Canada, across Europe and even in Singapore and Australia via phone and Skype, so your timezone is no obstacle!
I can also meet clients in person in Brighton, Worthing or London for an extra cost.
Q: DO I HAVE TO BE A FEMINIST TO WORK WITH YOU? DO I HAVE TO BE WRITING A FEMINIST BOOK?
I have extensive experience working as a coach and editor with writers who are working on all kinds of different projects – from novels, short story and poetry collections to non-fiction work, such as memoirs and business, self-help, coaching and healing books and proposals.
I love reading all kinds of fiction – thus I have expertise in literary fiction, women’s commercial, crime/thriller, sci-fi and fantasy, young adult, historical novels, as well as ‘quirky’ or spiritual projects.
I do enjoy novels with strong heroines or female characters, as well as those which experiment with the boundaries or gender and sexuality. I also tend to like books which are inclusive and tell stories that are usually ignored by the mainstream, but I pride myself on just knowing a good book when I see one – no matter the subject!
My editorial feedback is craft-based, so whatever you are writing, I can help you become a better writer and get nearer to acheiving your literary goals.
That being said, if you’re a feminist and believe in the empowerment of all women, we’ll probably get on like a house on fire!
To see if we’re a good fit, have a look at my page about working with a feminist writing coach and my manifesto.
Q: I’D LOVE TO WORK WITH YOU, BUT I CAN’T AFFORD IT – DO YOU OFFER SCHOLARSHIPS?
Yes, I am awarding one scholarship a year for any programme of the winner’s choosing in memory of my own amazing teacher and you can read more about it here.
I hope to be able to provide more pro bono support as my writing coaching practice develops, but I also offer monthly payment plans for my bigger packages to make it easier to find the fee.
I also offer discounts for clients who buy multiple packages from me – so if you want to write a novel with me and then have help with the submission process after, I will ensure you pay less overall for both programmes.
In the meantime, you can gain access to my extensive library of writing resources and my twice monthly ‘Love Letters from the Literary Revolution’ by completing the form below.
Q: CAN YOU GUARANTEE I’LL FINISH A BOOK/GET AN AGENT OR GET PUBLISHED IF I WORK WITH YOU?
I’ve certainly had clients get agents after years of trying (and can read about Rebecca Ann Smith’s experience of working with me below and you can also look at what my other clients say on my testimonials page). I’ve also had clients go on to become bestselling authors and get publishing contracts with major houses … but nothing is certain in the fickle world of publishing, I’m afraid!
Hopefully what my work with you will do though is make you a better writer, making the most of your talents and ideas and finally getting your ass in the chair so you don’t die with this book idea still in your head!
My intention is that our work together will get you that completed novel, memoir or book proposal … or whatever it is you sign up to be supported with by me. I will ensure your submission package is the best it can be before you send it out too, if you’ve signed up for submission support.
Of course though, in order for this magic to happen, you need to do your writing and commit to the process, including completing homework tasks and reflections and being willing to deal with whatever emotional blocks and issues arise.
And you need to be ready to listen to my constructive criticism (although you don’t have to act on everything I say!) and be willing to learn and grow creatively in order to get the most out of my feedback.
Mostly though, you’ll need to be ready to believe in you and take your writing to the next level.
Q: I AM TRANS, CAN I WORK WITH YOU?
Yes, please! I actively support LGBT writers and want more of my trans sisters’ voices to be heard in the literary world. You define your womanhood, your gender, your identity and I will support you 100%.
Q: I AM A GUY, BUT I AM A FEMINIST TOO – CAN I GET COACHED BY YOU?
Absolutely. There’s nothing hotter than a male feminist! Patrirarchy is toxic to more than women. If you have had enough of the BS, please get in touch.
Sharon at once restored my faith in myself and reignited my passion for my work, while still truthfully preparing me for the road ahead. She is a gem and a blessing to writers everywhere.LINDSAY MAXFIELD