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Natalya Androsova has come back to visit and share more of her expertise! She is a writing coach and author of 7 Minutes to Freedom: Simple Writing Meditations to Liberate Your Writing and Your Life. I had the privilege of interviewing Natalya Androsova, and I am going to share that with you today. She gives nothing but solid advice so keep reading to see what she has to say about what a writing coach is, writing strategies, and self-publishing!
Interview With Natalya Androsova
Natalya is an award-winning writing and dissertation coach with over two decades of experience teaching writing.
Her passion is helping writers become more courageous, authentic, and kind to themselves. Through individual coaching, writing groups, and writing retreats, she has helped hundreds of writers to break through blocks and find inspiration, a more authentic voice, and a greater freedom in their writing and their life.
She lives in Toronto, Canada, and when she is not writing or meditating, she loves to play tennis, practice yoga, or sit by the water and cloud watch for hours.
In her own writing practice, spanning three decades, she discovered that beliefs we have about our writing are not different from the beliefs we have about ourselves, so a new way of writing often translates into a new way of living. What was impossible becomes probable and even likely when we learn to write and live without fear.
If you’d like to chat about your writing goals, get in touch today! The initial chat is always free!
What is a writing coach?
They’re an ally who can bring focus and clarity to your writing life. They will give you all their attention and expertise to help you achieve your writing goals and build an effective and enjoyable writing process. A writing coach will be your magnifying glass helping you notice blind spots in your writing and thinking, so together you can fine-tune your writing practice.
In a meta conversation about your writing, they’re a reliable partner with whom you can discuss your approach, ideas, structure, and most importantly, your level of satisfaction with your work and your progress. A writing coach is a safe haven for any writer, and a happy place for many.
Why hire a writing coach?
If you’ve ever done any sports, then you already know how important it is to have a coach’s attention and expertise, their guidance and feedback. Writing is no different. A coach can help you:
- Make sense of your writing process
- Find a clear direction when you feel stuck
- Set effective writing goals and achieve them
- Set up an accountability system
- Synthesize your ideas
- Find a better structure
- Organize your writing process
- Fine-tune your approach after listening deeply to your ideas
- Develop a realistic writing schedule and protect your writing time
- Learn ways to monitor your progress
- Develop a repertoire of effective writing strategies that are right for you!
What’s the main approach you use in your coaching?
In working with writers for over two decades, I noticed that writing so often becomes a place for self-judgment and perfectionism, self-criticism and stress, but it doesn’t have to be. The heart of my coaching approach is to help every writer become more courageous, authentic, and kind to themselves.
My approach is simple. I help writers identify any stress and pressure in their writing process, and we come up with custom strategies to remove them once and for all. Writing doesn’t magically become easy, but it’s much easier to write from a place of clarity, ease, and inspiration than it is from a place of stress and obligation.
Watching each writer shift from stress and overwhelm to building a healthy, reliable, effective, and joyful writing practice fills my heart with joy and gives meaning to my work! My goal is to give writers all the tools they need to build a practice they enjoy, so they don’t need to rely on me.
As a coach, I love helping others rediscover their joy of writing, even when their inner critic is trying to sabotage the beauty of their creative process. I wrote 7 Minutes to Freedom: Simple Writing Meditations to Liberate Your Writing and Your Life (affiliate link) as an invitation for writers (and non-writers) to dive deep into themselves through writing and discover what no one else can discover for them. I hope they use this book to get to know themselves, their writing, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and emotions better. My wish is for them to accept their own unique writing voice and let go of the fears that separate them from free creative expression.
What are some common misconceptions about the writing process you’ve encountered in working with writers?
I could talk for hours about this topic. I am actually working on a book about writing myths because they are so prevalent and so damaging, but I’ll give you a few examples to start with. See if any of these sound familiar:
- Everything my inner critic says is true.
- I need to write 10 hours a day, 7 days a week to succeed.
- I should be further in my progress.
- I’m not a good writer.
- I’m too dumb/smart/old/young… to be a writer.
- I am an impostor, and soon everyone is going to find out.
- Writing should be easy.
- I am going to produce a perfect first draft.
- Everything should go according to my plan. Things shouldn’t change.
- I have to work harder, or better yet – I have to work all the time.
- My writing process should be smooth and linear.
- I need to know in the beginning how it’s going to fit together at the end.
Do you recognize any of these? That’s because they’re not unique to you or me. They come to visit every writer.
As a writer, I can certainly relate to all of them, but as a coach, I can show you how to build a different relationship with these misconceptions, so when they come next–and they WILL–they will be powerless to stop you from writing.
What do you see writers struggling with the most?
The right mindset. The above misconceptions organize themselves into some persistent themes of self-doubt and confidence, inner critic battles and the resulting writer’s block. But put simply, writers tend to psych themselves out of being productive and healthy. I’m not an exception, but through love and almost daily practice, I’ve realized that hitting an obstacle doesn’t mean the end of my creative journey.
Each obstacle has a specific strategy that can counter-balance it. So, I invite writers to pay attention to where they are stuck and pull out an appropriate strategy suitable to that specific obstacle. The more we write and understand our own process, the more intuitive and harmonious this dance of creative forces and counterforces becomes.
Can you share a few effective strategies for dealing with writer’s block/the inner critic?
The fastest and most reliable way to dealing with your inner critic is to write down everything they say and take some time—outside of the writing time—to question every item on the list. This way, next time they show up to offer their opinion, you can go, “not true” because you’ve already looked. And voila, they can’t surprise you anymore. Nor can they block you from writing.
When that voice starts speaking in your head, don’t be surprised, don’t wish them away, but tell them their opinion is very important and you will write it down and will read it later, when you have a moment. Jot down their words fast and continue with the writing task at hand.
Continue collecting the notes, and after you have your list of 10-15 things they say repeatedly, question each one of them. When they say something you’ve already written, you can say, “Thank you, it’s already on the list” and continue writing. If you don’t get into a fight with them, but take down their opinion and continue working, you disarm them.
When you hit writer’s block, switch to a writing journal—it can be a separate notebook, a new file, or just a different font colour in the document you’re working on. Start writing about your writing. Ask yourself questions about the block you’re experiencing: “Why is this part so hard? What am I trying to say? What are some fears and doubts I’m having about this specific section/character/dialogue?”
In both cases, if you haven’t stopped writing, but simply switched to a different kind of writing, so you can keep your writing momentum going.
Some other strategies for dealing with writer’s block include keeping a realistic writing schedule, being creative with how you work, and creating a fun primer symbolizing the moment when your goals are achieved.
One of my favourite strategies is called “parking downhill”, where you stop working when you know exactly what comes next. You can even outline the next few points and stop mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence, so next time you come to your writing, you jump right in and start rolling downhill instead of thinking, “Where do I start today?”
Connecting with other writers, getting inspired by your favourite authors, setting small goals and taking immediate steps are also very efficient in preventing writer’s block. And finally, being brave, kind, patient with yourself and your writing, as well as embracing the mess will ensure that you can have a healthy, sustainable, and joyful writing practice that will get you to the end of your project and allow you to remain sane.
If you’d like to read more about these strategies, I wrote a blog post here on Purple Shelf Club: 5 Easy Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block and Start Writing Today! I share a more in-depth explanation and provide specific examples in a free 10-page handout you can download here from my website.
What is one tip writers can implement today to be more productive?
Single focus! Separating writing from everything else—revising, editing, planning, outlining, research, formatting, and most importantly, looking at your phone.
As writers, we might have a hundred tasks in front of us, but we can only walk if we take one step at a time. That’s why I suggest separating the planning time from the writing time. It’s better to keep a list of your writing tasks away from your desk. You might have twenty notes posted on the inside of your closet door, or on a wall by your bed or the hallway. You can go there any time to plan, to dream, or have a meta conversation with yourself about your project. This is a place where you explore possibilities and come up with options.
And when you’re ready to focus, pick only one task, peel off one note, take it with you to your workstation, post it on your desk or monitor, and give yourself a time limit to focus all of your attention only on that task for a short period of time.
Start small. Work in 30-45 min periods so you don’t get overwhelmed. Think of it as a 100-meter sprint! You can’t think about chores you need to do after the race, or you will psych yourself out! For the duration of the race, you maintain a single focus on each step you take!
After the sprint, you can think of the dishes in the sink, the weather, or anything else. Maintaining a single focus when we work is a key to banishing the sense of being overwhelmed. If you finish your task sooner, get up and enjoy your reward. Make sure to take a break before you dive into the next task and don’t forget to celebrate every achievement.
Self-publishing is scary for first-time authors. Can you offer any advice that would help writers feel less overwhelmed when it comes to self-publishing?
In my experience, it’s best to focus on the freedom that self-publishing offers. Remember that every day you choose YOUR vision and make YOUR choices, and your creative freedom stays pretty much intact. You get to create a world of your own! This is a privilege, not a deficiency.
Yes. It is scary and overwhelming. There’s just no way around it, but the right mindset can help us dream, enjoy, and celebrate our own courage that we are actually walking this path of self-publishing. We are taking a chance on our own writing and we are brave.
Remembering that when we do something for the first time, there WILL be mistakes and the learning curve will be sharp. It’s inevitable. Allowing yourself to be a student, to not know, and to try.
Be kind to yourself and remember, you wrote a book, while so many others keep dreaming about it. Now you are educating yourself on ways to share it with the world. It’s meaningful, to say the least. So, when the going gets hard, go back to your WHY and feel the joy and freedom of this self-publishing enterprise!
Who will want to read my book? What advice would you give to a writer who is saying this to themselves right now?
I would ask this question only once, in the very beginning—who would benefit from my book? And once you figure that out, I would write down the answer and not revisit the question for a while because it would only add pressure.
On the other hand, it’s hard to write to an abstract reader, so you can imagine your best friend sitting next to you as you’re sharing this story with them. This will allow you to imagine someone kind and compassionate who has been in your life for a while and knows you and who is interested in your story. You would also trust them to give you an honest and constructive feedback.
The books we write are ultimately meant for ourselves. The advice we give is for us. The stories we write help us gain insight into our own life through symbols, metaphors, and archetypes. We are doing some deep and important work. And the degree of honesty we can bring to our work will serve as an invitation for others to get curious about themselves and their life.
On the other hand, as human beings we share the ability to feel and empathize. Our stories are not so personal. Every person is on the same hero journey. From fear and self-doubt to sharing our heart in the face of adversity and standing in our faith, courage, and humility. Our story, if shared clearly, will resonate with many. So don’t worry about appealing to others and write the book you’d love to read.
1. Paperback or hardcover?
Hardcover because it has more presence, feels like a special gift, and can stand on its own–on any surface.
2. What is a hobby of yours?
I’ve been playing tennis for 37 years and have learned so much about the daily practice from the game. I also enjoy yoga, meditation, and cloud-watching.
3. Do you like to read or write more?
Writing hands down! Reading is like being with others, walking in their mind and their world, and I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. But writing is like being in love with my own life. It feels like coming home to myself and being in a safe place inside my own heart.
4. If you were to write fiction, what genre would it be?
It would be magical realism with elements of mysticism.
5. What is your favorite part of your book “7 Minutes To Freedom”?
I love the opening pages, where I share my understanding of writing and invite others to connect to their own experience of writing and living. I really love this paragraph because it summarizes my message really well:
Each of us knows the difference between flying and feeling stuck. This book invites you to fly. Writing is a form of flying. It’s a deep meditation on the meaning of your lived experience—a way of exploring your external and internal worlds. Writing is a wonderful tool for self-discovery. It invites you to access your soul and its guidance. It keeps you honest and teaches you how to grow by paying attention to each moment. What does this moment want to tell you? What questions does it contain? Where are you stuck? What can you learn there so that you can break free and fly again?Natalya Androsova, 7 Minutes to Freedom, p. 15
I also love the final chapter, in which I share my own imperfect freewriting. I feel brave and vulnerable modelling what I’m asking the reader to do. I show how we can be happier and more productive if we accept the imperfections and stop demanding so much from ourselves and our writing.
Buy 7 Minutes To Freedom Today!
What if you could let go of limiting beliefs, build a joyful daily writing practice, and discover your authentic voice and your authentic life? Freedom is closer than you think. Freedom to write and rewrite your life. Freedom to write yourself happy, clear, and free. Seven minutes at a time.
I hope you never stop writing. Remember, writing is a form of flying! Natalya
Let’s Talk About It!
Today you got to learn a little about Natalya Androsova while also learning a little more about writing. What a combo! What I love about this interview is that she wants you to be confident in your writing. It is so important to acknowledge your worries and then move past them. You can be an amazing writer, you just have to get organized and start writing.
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Hi! I am a book blogger primarily. The aim of this blog is to help readers and writers alike. I also write the occasional travel related post. I am a nerd like you with a passion for neuroscience and learning. Hence, my love for books and the authors who write those books!