22 November 2015

My editing philosophy

My editing philosophy

My approach to working with editing clients is based on several beliefs I hold about the writing process and the best way for an editor and a writer to work together.
  • The editing work should support the writing process. Although not all writers’ processes look the same, there is a definite order of operations, and certain types of feedback belong in certain stages of the writing project. I give you the right information at the right time, which helps you focus on the right level of revision and prevents overwhelm.
  • I am neither a subordinate nor a boss. I am an articulate and honest outside perspective, a partner in your thinking and your process. My clients don’t hire me to tell them what to do; they hire me to tell them what I see—what’s working and not working—and to help them come up with solutions that will achieve their vision for their project while meeting readers’ needs and expectations.
  • Mutual respect is key to a productive writer-editor relationship. I respect your time, money, process, and autonomy. This is why I offer high-quality services at fair rates and support your vision for your work rather than trying to superimpose my own.
  • The focus should be on writing something that you need to write and/or the world needs to read, not on what sells. There's nothing wrong with wanting to make money off your writing, but in my view, the goal is to find the right audience for your writing rather than to write for a particular market. My strength is not in knowing what the market will support; it's knowing how to create a satisfying reader experience.
  • Whether you want to query, submit to contests, or self-publish, if you want to get your work out there, at some point you have to have to decide that it’s good enough. I help writers determine what that point is and support them in making their writing the best it can be given the available resources.

What to expect

When you contact me, I'll start by asking you some basic questions about your project. You may not know all the answers right away, and that's okay; part of the purpose of the conversation is to give you information that can help you make those decisions. I listen carefully and ask questions to make sure I know exactly what you want. I may also ask you some questions to determine whether writing coaching might be a good option for meeting your needs. We'll then move on to a sample edit of your work in progress. If after the sample edit you decide to hire me for your project, we'll work together to create an editing agreement, including a quote for the job and a timeline to completion, that fits the needs of the writing as well as your timeline and budget. After we have a signed agreement, we can begin working together on your project.

Ready to start talking about your editing needs? Email me at sioneaeschliman (at) gmail (dot) com. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

19 November 2015

What is writing coaching?

What is writing coaching?

When I think about coaching in general, what comes to mind are those sports coaches in the movies who yell at the players, telling them what to do and calling them names if they aren't working hard enough. 

This isn't that. 

It's not my job as a coach to make you do anything or to shame you if you fail. A writing coach is a partner in and a witness to your process. My job as a coach is to help you articulate goals. It's to help you identify strengths and areas to work on. It's to brainstorm strategies with you and provide a system of support and challenge for following through.

Writing coaching is about your writing and how it fits into your life as a whole, not just about a particular writing project. What do you want your writing life to look like? What do you need to know and be able to do to make it happen? What are your resources and limitations? The coaching process involves using the answers to those questions to formulate a plan, stay on track, make adjustments where necessary, and celebrate your accomplishments.

Examples of work that we could do within our coaching relationship:
  • Determine the cause(s) of your writer's block and develop strategies for overcoming it
  • Figure out how to fit writing into your schedule
  • Find - and learn to appreciate - your unique writing voice
  • Identify your strengths as a writer and capitalize on them
  • Learn and practice new skills for making your writing snap, crackle, pop, & ka-BOOM
  • Finish your writing project

What to expect 

The coaching packages are designed to provide a system of support, challenge, and accountability. Each coaching session and email check-in involves a report on your progress and challenges since the last session and tasks to accomplish by the next session. Voice or video sessions may also involve my asking clarifying questions to learn more about your process, help you identify what’s not working, and brainstorm alternative strategies. The result over time is a transformative experience that leads to a better understanding of what kind of writing life you want and what you need to do to have it.

Even though I manage a group of editors and writing coaches, I reached outside of my circle and contacted Sione because I was impressed with her positive attitude and her level of confidentiality in regards to client material. We set up a program to work together for 6 months, focusing on my writing goals and challenges, many of which pertained to time-management and putting my writing ahead of other projects. I found Sione’s techniques, insights, and approach so helpful that I continued to work with her for a full year. At the end of the year, I had one more request for a full developmental edit of my novel. Sione is gem. As I once said to her, My PhD program taught me how to write, but Sione Aeschliman taught me how to be a writer. She is gracious, professional and innately gifted. 
 – Kristin, PhD, writer of literary fiction & poetry 

When you contact me to inquire about writing coaching services, I'll want to start with an initial consultation to learn more about who you are, what you write, what your aspirations and challenges are, and what kind of support you need. You may not have all the answers right away, and that's okay. We'll start from what you know and go from there. And of course you'll also have the opportunity to ask me questions to help you determine whether I'm the right coach for you. 

After our consultation, I'll email you my notes as well as recommendations for a coaching plan. If you choose to hire me as your coach, we'll sign an agreement, you'll make your first payment, and our work together will begin.

Sione didn't share my belief that I had nothing worthwhile to say; instead she insisted that I continue to take the steps I needed to write, even if those steps were small. She helped me realize that what I am experiencing in this moment contains enough to write stories – I don’t need to go looking for it in writing books. Using gentle but steadfast encouragement, Sione helped me discover and remove my own obstacles to writing.
- Diane Gilman, writer of fiction & non-fiction

Please note: While feedback on your writing might be part of our coaching agreement, the purpose of the feedback is not editing; rather it is to support the process of setting goals and making progress toward them. If editing is what you want, please visit my Editing Services page.

Ready to explore writing coaching further? Email me at sioneaeschliman (at) gmail (dot) com. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

10 November 2015

Wordstock 2015 Highlights

A well-used program
For those who need one more reason to love Portland, Oregon, I present Reason #8,764: Wordstock, Portland's annual literary festival and the epitome of lit geekery.

Wordstock 2015, run by Literary Arts, consisted of a full day (9am to 2am) of events geared toward readers and writers alike: readings, author talks, writing workshops, a book fair, book signings, a Lit Crawl, and an after party.

Thousands of lit lovers converged on downtown Portland on Saturday for the main events, waiting in long lines out in the rain and cramming shoulder-to-shoulder in the Portland Art Museum's halls to see big names such as Sandra Cisneros, Barry Lopez, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Jesse Eisenberg as well as dozens of lesser-known but nonetheless wonderfully talented writers. In the evening the festivities moved to the east side of the river for the Lit Crawl and the after party.

My highlights:

05 November 2015

Resource for writers: Margie Lawson Writers' Academy

It's kind of a long story, but I'll try to tell the short version. I wanted to Octsober again this year. My goal was to give up alcohol, tobacco, refined sugar, and television for the entire month of October.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I know, I know. The only thing I'm addicted to that I didn't try to give up is caffeine. *shudders to think*

Anyway, I knew that if I wanted to have even the remotest chance of success with Octsobering I was going to have to find some other activity to fill my time and distract me from the extreme discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. What I decided on was taking a couple of courses from the Margie Lawson Writers' Academy (LWA) - one to help me with my WIP and one to help me learn more about the business side of indie authorship, especially book marketing and publicity.

09 October 2015

Writing uphill

I had a deadline, but the stories wouldn't come.

Getting to butt-in-chair in itself was a challenge because I had so many other things going on. And every time I sat down to work on the stories it was like trying to squeeze water out of a rock. On a good day, I could write several paragraphs *about* the story - who the characters were, what I wanted to the story to do, what I thought the narrative arc should look like - but very little of the story itself. Writing these stories was taking a ton of effort, and to show for all that effort I had maybe a few sentences. It made getting to butt-in-chair even harder.

Being an indie author has its perks: I moved the deadline. But they still wouldn't come. Feeling discouraged, feeling like a failure, I moved the deadline again. And again. Still next to nothing. A flash of dialogue or scene here and there; I'd get excited, sit down to write more, but nothing more would come.