I started the first writing course and agency ten years ago and focused only on novels. Almost all the writers who found me saw 'writing a book' as 'writing a novel' so my work was to get writers to plot, plan and craft their novels. Publishing and writers have changed dramatically. Not many writers send queries about wanting to write a novel any more. Most writers who find me want to write their own story - either as a memoir or a non-fiction book.
Because my background is as an editor and journalist this has made my coaching life easier. I love facts and personal stories. This is an editor’s home turf!
Writing memoir or non-fiction doesn't require the element of fantasy. On one level the harder creative work in crafting a novel does not apply here. Instead of pulling a story out of thin air and wrapping it in your imagination you are using your own life to tell a story.
But writing about yourself calls on different parts of a writer. It calls on you to weave a compelling plot out of your own life. IT calls on you not only to tell your story, but first to find your story! This is the real work of memoir. What is the heart of your story? What is the universal that reflects in your life? Is it about hope, revenge, faith, courage, success, and family? And how are you going to plot this so the reader takes this journey with you.
I first developed a course for memoirs that I first ran as a weeklong retreat. This kicked up a level in 2015 when I ran an online Compete your Book Mastermind Course with Kate Emmerson. We had writers from all over the world join this group. The results were amazing. Using coaching, pushing and writing techniques to actually plan and plot a book properly we got our writers to complete their first draft of their books. All? Nope of course not! But many of them.
So from a tiny writing course that started in South Africa over ten years ago I can tentatively say we have gone global!
People no longer ask ... can you do a course online? Online courses are now standard and brilliant. I do like to still cross into real world and work one-on-one with writers on their particular books during the courses. But working online works fairly well and it fits in with my personal mantra for writers which is:
Don't talk about your book - write it
Sarah Bullen is a writing coach, agent and book editor. She is a structure fanatic and coaches writers on how to write and get published.