screenwriter | novelist | writing coach & teacher

Teaching Style

My Mission

Hello, it is so great to have you here.

My mission as a teacher and coach is to empower you as a writer. I know from experience the power of improving one’s writing skills with the presence of joy. You don’t have to suffer or be depressed to be a great writer. So my secondary mission is to provide a learning environment that welcomes and encourages joy and shows you how to incorporate that same joy into your own writing practice.

In short, this is a safe space to bring your insecurities, vulnerabilities, and fears. I had so many insecurities that kept me from writing for years. And even after years of writing, working as a professional writer, and completing manuscripts, feature scripts, and TV pilots, I was still weighed down by doubt.

That’s when I stepped back and reassessed. I was exhausted and tired of letting my craft be self-abusive. I was in danger of falling out of love with writing and I really didn’t want that. So I started making some changes.

I’m happy to say I figured it out. After two years of learning and experimenting and discovering, I found a balance. I created a sustainable writing practice, fell back in love with writing, and became more prolific than ever. All while enjoying my life.

I would love to help you create this kind of writing practice for yourself, one rooted in positivity, healthy habits, and self-love so you can become the prolific writer you’ve always wanted to be.

Philosophy on Writing Craft

Now, I’d like to talk about craft for a minute.

The two greatest lessons I’ve learned as a writer (and the two greatest lessons that improved the quality of my work) were:

  1. Don’t be precious with your writing.
  2. What a character WANTS is the key to making any story, scene, and narrative work.

Lesson number one is all about freeing yourself while you write so you can get to “the good stuff.” In short, let the first draft be terrible (and I mean TERRIBLE). I think about every podcast I’ve listened to that includes a conversation with a writer I admire, touches on this topic. Typically, the more experienced a writer is, the better they’ve gotten at this.

Letting yourself be loose and not-judging yourself as you write is how you get to the good stuff. But this is a muscle. One you have to practice and exercise in order to strengthen.

Practical ways to build this muscle include journaling, scribbling, morning pages, and embracing your messy handwriting. Other ways to strengthen this “don’t be precious” muscle include writing a first draft FAST! (This is one of the many reasons I’m such a big fan of NaNoWriMo.)

It also becomes much easier to be loose and free with your writing if you write from a mindset that is NOT full of statements from your inner-critic like, “Oh this sucks,” “How could you think anyone would want to read this garbage??”, and “Just give up now and go back to bed.” There’s a way to, over time, replace those thoughts with ones like, “Hey, that sentence was really good… dang,” and “Oh my god I love this idea–where’s a piece of paper?”, and especially “Okay not sure what to do here so I’ll move on for now–no big, I’ll know what to do when the time comes.”

Again, practicing this lesson is easier said than done. But it is something that everyone can learn how to do. I would know. I was a self-judging perfectionist for years. The kinds of things I used to say to myself weren’t things I’d even think about saying to anyone else in my life.

Lesson number two sounds simple, but it’s an ocean worth of discussion. Still, I’ll try to give you the heart of this lesson. The reason you need to know what a character wants in order for a story, scene, or episode of TV to work is because knowing what a character wants is how we begin to empathize with a character. It also keeps us interested in the story (because we want to stick around and see if they do indeed get what they want).

In a love story, one or both people want to BE TOGETHER. And, thus, we’ll stick around to see if they get what they want and are able to be together. In Sleepless In Seattle, they do. In Romeo & Juliet, they do not (well, unless you count being together in death, but that’s a bit morbid.)

In a survival story, the character in peril wants to LIVE. And, thus, we’ll stick around to see if the character who wants to live is alive at the end of the story, and has thus survivied. In The Martian (both the book and the movie) we get a clear answer to the question of “Will he survive?” by the end.

So while these two numbered lessons above are both easier said than done, which is a bit of a bummer, there is good news. When a writer is able to find guidance and writing allies, it not only makes learning these lessons easier, it also makes it more fun (i.e. more joyful).

I would love to be your writing ally.