“The workshop was amazing. It went way beyond what I thought we could do in 1 weekend.” … “Minal is a gifted teacher. I learned that my creative well is bottomless!” … “I felt safe and that helped me be willing to delve into the book writing and publishing process, even as a not-yet-published author.” … “The building of one exercise upon another was very effective. By the end I really felt that my writing had moved forward.”
Write, learn, breathe
Are you ready to transform your ideas, chapter drafts, and research notes into a powerful blueprint for a finished work? Do you need a companion, a supportive voice, maybe even a fairy godmother on the journey from creative idea to actualization?
As a writer who benefited greatly from experienced guidance in the seven-year process of completing my book Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents, I am delighted to be able to share what I’ve learned in two ways:
• individual coaching
• group writing workshops
Please read on for more information, as well as some frequently asked questions for writers at the end.
What you can expect from me as your coach
• Experienced, sensitive coaching and editing
• A safe space in which to discuss fears, concerns, blocks— “therapy for your writing”
• Complete confidentiality
• Consistent, clear artistic encouragement and problem-solving
• Progress toward your goals in a structured but non-authoritarian, non-blaming environment
• An anti-oppression framework that takes into account the particular creative obstacles often faced by people whose gender, class, race, disability, sexual orientation, language(s), and/or other qualities work against mainstream narratives
• Personalized play/exercises that help you leap forward as a writer
Specific tools we might use in our sessions include:
• Customized writing exercises, games, and homework/assignments to break through blocks and reach new levels in your writing
• Coaching on narrative structure and craft elements such as character, description, metaphor, theme, plot
• Tools for learning to work with/against your internal critic
• Goal-setting and non-blaming accountability
• Strategizing about your writing career
• Talking through your fears and obstacles, and brainstorming solutions
• Timed writing together
• Helping you identify other resources and what you need to support your writing
• Developing realistic expectations of yourself and your writing time
• Suggested reading
• Activities to bring the joy and sense of play back into your writing
• Creating a writing plan and blueprint for your project, with milestones and a clear path for success
Types of writing I work with:
• Nonfiction and memoir
• Long-form journalism
• Dissertations, theses, articles, essays
• Proposals and applications, including book proposals, personal statements, white papers, etc.
• Blogging & social media – strategies for writing short and powerful
• Corporate writing, strategic/visionary writing, business plans
What not to expect:
A boot camp/heavy discipline approach to writing; psychotherapy; connections with agents and editors; judgment of you and your work.
There are two ways to work on your writing with me: one-on-one, or in a group class.
Individual sessions give you personalized attention and a longer time frame in which to make progress on your project(s). We can work together by phone, online chat, or in person at/near my home office in San Francisco. The first session includes goal-setting and runs approximately 1 hour, longer if needed. At some point during this session, usually toward the beginning, we will do a timed freewriting exercise together that will help identify your needs and establish a basis for our relationship. Subsequent sessions are typically 1 hour long; for some clients, more frequent half-hour sessions may be useful.
Group classes: Please see www.minalhajratwala.com/events for current classes, or contact me to join my mailing list for future class announcements.
Yes, let’s get started!
Please email me at contact [at] minalhajratwala.com and let me know a little about your project, your timeline, and what you would like to get out of working with me. If you would like to have me teach a class at your institution or in your area, please get in touch at least two months in advance of the dates you have in mind.
Wishing you a joyful and productive writing day, today and always.
Q: I finished / am finishing / am working on a book. Can you tell me which grants to apply for to fund my writing? Can you put me in touch with an agent / editor / someone in publishing? Can you tell me if my idea will sell?
First of all, congratulations on your work, that’s fabulous! I’m not an expert on the literary market, which in any case is constantly changing, so I’m afraid I have no idea if your work will sell.
Unless I know you AND your writing very well, I cannot refer you to my agent or editors. My friend Mary Anne Mohanraj has a more detailed response to this question on her website, including excellent advice to which I can’t really add anything.
There are many good resources on agents, publishing, and how to do your own market research out there; Poets & Writers magazine is a good one to subscribe to if you’d like to stay on top of the latest trends for publishing and funding your literary writing. P&W regularly features interviews with agents, calls for submissions, features on new writers, and other practical resources. It also carries extensive listings for grants, fellowships, residencies, and other resources for writers. This q&a from a literary agency has great information, including sample query letters and pitch language for various genres.
If you are a writer of South Asian descent, I highly recommend getting involved in DesiLit, joining or organizing your local chapter, and attending one of the national DesiLit conferences that brings together writers, readers, and publishing professionals.
Q: Can you read my work / my manuscript / my proposal?
I love to coach other writers through various stages of the writing process, and I love to read and critique manuscripts. I am lucky to be able to do this work for a fee. I only work with writers if I think there is a good match between my skills and your needs. If you’re interested in working with me, please do get in touch and let me know a little about your project, your timeline, and what you would like to get out of working with me.
I have two levels of “manuscript massage”: big-picture critiques, and detailed line editing.
Please note that my services do not include connecting you to an agent/editor/etc. You should be suspicious of any manuscript consultant who charges money for such connections.
Q: How much do your coaching services cost?
Rates vary depending on your needs, and I do have a sliding scale, so let’s talk.
Q: My book is about to come out. Can you give me any tips on marketing and publicity?
Yes. I’ve pulled together some resources and ideas from a panel discussion that I moderated with other authors and performers at the 2009 DesiLit convention, in this blog post. Have fun!
Q: Do you have any writing advice?
In my experience, the #1 way to get good advice and support for your writing is to be part of a community of writers and creative peers. By this I don’t mean a Facebook community (though I do love me some FB), but a real writing group, class, community group, open mic, creative organization, coach, and/or some combination of these, that meets regularly and keeps you in touch with people who are able to assist each other. Finding or forming your own writing community, and/or hiring someone to help you, are really the best ways (imho) to get advice at the level you need it. I did both in order to write my book, and I found it was well worth every minute and penny that I invested in these activities.
I’ve also found books on writing and creativity to be helpful. The books I turn to again and again are:
- • The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron – on finding and holding to your creative path.
- • Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg – on writing as a practice, with easy, repeatable exercises for generating new work.
- • Unstuck, by Jane Anne Staw – on working through creative blocks.
- • Make Your Creative Dreams Real, by SARK – fun for your inner child, not just for writers.
You might also enjoy my blog posts about writing and the creative process. Read, comment, then write!
I wish you the best, and know you’re already on the right track by reaching out to the universe for help, support, and creative validation.