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3 BIG TAKEAWAYS
Last time on the interview series I talked to Chantelle Aimée Osman about how to edit your own work. Don't miss it!
Megan Clancy is a published author and Author Accelerator certified book coach. As The Book Coach for Moms, she coaches women who lost their creative spark in the days of early motherhood and are struggling to find a way back to it, moms who had never thought of writing a book before and something in becoming a mother brought out that creative desire, and moms whose kids are now in school and finally have time to write the book they've always wanted. She coaches moms at and through all points of their novel-writing journey. She has a BA in English & Creative Writing from Colorado College, an MFA from the University of Melbourne, has lived and worked in Australia and the United States, and was a high school English teacher before becoming a full-time writer and book coach. She now lives with her husband and two young children in California.
Megan Clancy: [00:00:00] Having someone that can assure you that, yes, you could tweak this, but you're doing good. Like keep going. And then someone who knows the industry that at the end, they can be like, okay, you have this book, it's ready to go because too many authors spend so much time with this manuscript and if you have someone that can kick you in the butt and be like, it's done, leave it alone, send it into the world.
David Gwyn: Are you an aspiring writer, balancing a busy life? Aren't we? All right, but how do you balance your creative time and your other commitments? I'm David Gwyn, a writer with a messy first draft, wondering how to make it shine. So it's ready for submission. During season two of the podcast, I'm asking agents, book, coaches, editors, and authors, how they suggest writers go from the end on a first.
To signing a publishing deal. Last time on the podcast, I talked to Chantel me Osman in an insightful interview about how to edit your own work. The link for that episode is in the description. In this episode, I'm talking to Megan, a Clancy, a [00:01:00] writer book, coach, and mom, but not always in that order. We talk about the pressures of daily life, appreciating your creative journey and so much.
If you've ever felt guilty about writing instead of spending time with family or friends, or if you've ever felt guilty about not writing because you chose family or friends, then this episode is for you because the key to managing that resentment and guilt might not be as difficult as you think.
Let's go to the interview.
Megan, welcome to the writer lifestyle interview series. I'm so excited to chat with you. I love chatting with book coaches, cause I feel like these conversations, they get to solve a problem for people who are listening.
So thanks so much for being
Megan Clancy: here. You're welcome. I'm so excited. This is great.
David Gwyn: So let's start at the beginning. Can you talk a little bit about your writing?
Megan Clancy: Whew. So I was definitely, always one of those people that like, yeah, I have written my whole life. I was a kid that I could very much, I would, I could put things better in writing than I could in words.
So if I was really upset my parents said that I would just like go to my room and write [00:02:00] them a letter. And so it was always writing. That's where I could really focus my emotion and get things better in words. And then I had an English teacher in like sixth grade and eighth grade. I was very fortunate.
He was a fantastic person. And just made me realize that like, oh, creative writing is a, a thing like writing stories, you know, as a kid, you read books and you're like, yeah, this is a book that appears on a shelf. You have no concept of. Someone sits down and they write this story. And so, yeah, when that kind of like spurred.
Interest in creative writing. And I went to college and I was like, I'm gonna be a PolySci major. And that changed real quick. One of those situations where, you know, teacher kind of puts you off of, of subject matter and hurried right across the quad to the English department and found out that they had a creative writing track.
And I was like, yep, this is it. I'm doing it. Then I guess the end and, you know, the whole four years, everyone's like, what are you gonna do with act degree? it's like, oh, I'll figure it out. And I got to the end of college and I was like, okay, I wanna stay in academics. Cause I like my little bubble. I don't wanna go in the real world [00:03:00] yet.
And I had been bitten by the travel bug. So I wanted to do something abroad and be able to travel. And there was a couple of creative writing programs abroad. And so I went to Australia cause I had met some Aussies traveling as you do. they're everywhere and knew some people there and got my creative writing degree.
I got an MFA which yeah, maybe the best use of time. Maybe not, have some opinions in that area. But yeah. And then. Left writing and became a teacher because that's what you do with an English degree is you become a teacher and yeah, it took a few years to come back around to, no, this is my passion and this is what I wanna do.
Got very disillusioned with the teaching profession. I'm sure you understand why for multiple reasons, but yeah. And so eventually published a book and then kind of. Yeah. Was pushed into book coaching by a lot of life situations, the pandemic being one of them and [00:04:00] just really came across this like, oh, this is the ideal profession.
This is, I love coaching. I love teaching. And I love writing. And this was kind of like the intersection of all those things. So yeah, it was kind of perfect timing, perfect place. And just the, the kind of climax of all my passions and life directions really. Yeah, that's
David Gwyn: so cool. So there's so much here. I wanna unpack.
So that was a lot. No, no, that's great. That gave me like the full overview cuz now I want, I wanna dive in here. Mm-hmm so as a teacher, I feel like you're really well suited to be a book coach. I mean, you have a lot of the skills that, that you need mm-hmm but I actually wanna first talk about your, your masters, your MFA because the there's I feel like there's two types of people.
That I meet in the writing community and they're people who either don't have an MFA and like always wonder what their life would be like with one, and then people who have an MFA and have very strong opinions about it one way or the other. Yeah. And so it sounds like , you're on that obviously on that [00:05:00] side.
Yeah. So like for people who, for people who don't have an MFA can you talk a little bit about what was, and maybe, you know, what was great about it and, and what kind of the
Megan Clancy: drawbacks were? I think. What I'm gonna say probably needs to be taken with a grain of salt in that. I have a very different MFA experience from a lot of people that got them stateside because they think just the programs are different.
So I was in Australia, it's geared toward, is a different publishing industry, a different situation. Mm-hmm and granted this was years ago. So I really don't have a lot to of knowledge of what those programs are like specifically today. Great thing is that you're completely immersed in a community of writers and you're with this strong community.
And all you have to do is write and talk about writing and that's fantastic. And I was in this wonderful idyllic, little bubble of people that it was. It was a really diverse group of people and great to hear so many different stories and people coming with different writing strengths and all this [00:06:00] interests and all that kind of stuff being immersed in that is fantastic.
And if you wanna learn or improve at anything, just immersing yourself in a group of people that are focused on that is fantastic. My issue with the whole MFA thing I've heard in past interviews, you've talked about to people and, and the big thing. Understanding the writing business. After that, my kind of goes back to the craft of an MFA is a really good place to go.
If you wanna learn how to write pretty, they're very focused on literary writing and, and they kind of assume that you understand a lot of stuff going in and they're just here to like fluff up your writing and Polish it and make it look nice. There is very little taught. Story and how to tell a story.
And I mean, a lot of this stuff we feel is very natural to us. And you understand how to tell story. You tell, everybody tells stories every day, right? Someone asks you what you did at the story. You tell a story, all this kind of stuff, but there's very specific things of how to make a book.[00:07:00]
Pull a reader through and understand that story arc mm-hmm and understand how to develop character and how to develop tension and internal thought and all these kind of things that if you're just focused on making something pretty, you're not getting at the core of it. And I think that's where a lot of these programs, at least in my experience where they lacked was.
I sat around and they told me how to, like, you know, let's make this line a little more poetic and let's focus on these kind of this language or this whatever. And also if we're, if we're really looking at how to make something pretty I think we're really doing a disservice to authors that don't come in with that kind of background or that kind of focus on that kind of writing authors who maybe.
Elevated English language, classical English language. Isn't what you're going for. When you're writing, we're really kind of cutting those, those voices out. And if we're just focused on making [00:08:00] something shine, we're, we're losing a lot in how to develop a story and how to really give a message in your writing.
David Gwyn: Hmm. Yeah, I think that's, I think that's a, a something I keep hearing about is that it's, it really is an MFA or at least traditionally speaking has been geared towards literary fiction writers and that they pretty much just avoid genre writing entirely. And they are really focused on that line level writing.
And, and I will say I've, I've talked to Chatelle Aimée Osman who teaches at this MFA? And she's, she said that they're, that at least her program, the one that she's in is starting to consider more and think more about the business of writing and, and she's a genre expert in crime and thriller.
And so having her, , teach classes, I think that there's a shift and I don't know if it's. From people who have basically said, like, don't get an MFA if you wanna raise
Megan Clancy: genre fiction. And I, I agree with you. And I have heard that this is like more and more schools are starting to realize that this is necessary and more and more schools [00:09:00] definitely are focusing on the business side of publishing and how to get, and there's whole programs on publishing and marketing as an author and all this kind of stuff.
But yeah, we're still dealing with a very. Traditional classical literary fiction is the focus because it's held in higher esteem. When you're going to these universities, they're trying to hold themselves in high esteem and we don't wanna be pushing out a bunch of people that are just gonna produce these mass paper back things that we don't really hold in high esteem.
David Gwyn: No. It's true. It's true. So talk a little
Megan Clancy: bit about your book. Ooh, my book, I have also mixed opinions about my book. It was written at a very early point in my writing career and if I could go back and change a lot of it, I would, I might not even write this book. But no, it is so. After my MFA, I wanted to teach and I wanted to still travel and all this.
So I went and taught in Nepal for a bit became very, just. In love with the community and [00:10:00] the people and the village I was living in. And, and I know this is a very pro problematic situation, and there's been more and more that have come out over the past few years about why this type of teaching abroad can be seen as problematic.
And I totally understand the reasons behind that. I came back with full intention of there's a story to hear that I want to tell. I knew very much that it did not. It was not going to be the white savior, going to a, a foreign country. We have enough of those books. We don't need any more of those books.
So I really wanted to focus on the people and particularly the women that I. That I worked with. And it's, so it's the burden of a daughter and it's the story of a girl who is very trapped by these traditional patriarchal issues that are going on at the time and her escape from that community.
But it's, it's very much the celebration of women in this culture, but also at the same time, just shining a light on. All the things that, that are oppressed on these women. It was the child to me, the burden of a [00:11:00] daughter in that culture. It is a burden to have a daughter because they, they say that having a daughter is like watering your neighbor's garden, because you're gonna raise, you're gonna spend all your time and money and effort raising this child.
And then she's just gonna go off and help someone else. She's not there to help you. And then there's a strong burden of being a daughter because you are a burden to your family and a burden to the culture, or so you're told your entire life, and there's a lot that's that weighs on you for being a woman.
And there, I, I think parts of this book could probably be written in our current country, but yeah, mm-hmm, so. The whole focus of the book. And I was a very young writer. I was a very young woman. I, the parts that I would love to go back and rewrite are the birth scenes that I write it, cuz I had no idea what I was talking about at the time.
it would be a very different scene. If I, as now a mother of two could rewrite some of those birth and pregnancy scenes, but. Yeah. No. So it is out there, but,
David Gwyn: well, no, that's great. Yeah. I feel like I, you know, [00:12:00] I, I think too you know, a lot of writers I talk to and, and book coaches and editors, they they've all got those books where they're like, you know, , you needed to produce something you needed to create something you were at that time in which you.
Had the motivation you had the, the experience and you just thought I'm, I, this is something I'm gonna create. And I think that's great. I mean, I, I think it's, it's good to be really honest too, about as somebody who's sitting here and is coaching writers, you're like, look like, yeah, there , there are strengths and weaknesses to every
Megan Clancy: piece.
This is very much one of those. This is the book of my heart and I have to write it. And it took me seven years to write. I was, I'm sure you can. Relate to this. I took every minute of that 30 minute lunch break I had teaching and I was writing. Yeah. And I was, and then I would go home. Yeah. And grade.
And if there was 30 minutes before, my eyes just totally fell asleep. Yeah. I would write some more so it was, yeah, it was a good seven years of writing when I could and getting that published, but wow.
David Gwyn: Yeah. All right. Cool. So let's let's transition. [00:13:00] Let's, let's move right onto to book coaching.
How do you define book coaching and what do you see as a book coach's role?
Megan Clancy: So when, because I know this is book coaching is a very new it is, and it isn't, but it's, it's becoming more the public is becoming more aware. Writers are realizing, oh, this is a thing that I can have.
I liken book coaching to having a trainer at the gym, right? Like you can go to the gym and get a perfectly good workout and maybe achieve all the fitness goals you want to achieve by yourself. It's doable. however, if you have a trainer, someone who can like lay out a plan for you and have these goals for you, be your accountability partner, encourage you along the way, kind of tweak things that you might not be doing correctly or.
Help you figure out the best way to do these kind of things. You're probably gonna achieve that goal quicker and be, feel better about the process, all these kind of things. So yeah, a book coach is just everything from, you know, a brainstorming buddy and a critique partner, a planning partner [00:14:00] help you figure out where your story's going, what you really wanna say.
And then along the way, you know, you turn in work to them over and over and you can get these edits as you go. They can help you direct. They can help you stay motivated. They can, you know, for me, I love having a deadline. I love having like that feeling of, I have to turn in work. I'm sure that goes back to my very type a like perfect student mentality.
But like, if I have work that I have to turn in, I'm gonna do it. It's not something that I can like. Do later. So having that kind of deadline there for you and having someone that's knowledgeable in the industry guide you along the way. So, you know, you're like sometimes, I mean, I talk to authors that are like, I have no idea what I'm doing.
I'm just putting words on the page. And I don't know if it's going anywhere. And that's the worst feeling when you're like, I'm putting so much time and effort into this, but I have no idea if I'm doing you right. And I'm not saying there is a right and wrong, right. There's not, there's a million ways to write a single story.[00:15:00]
Having someone that can assure you that yeah. Like, yes, you could tweak this, but you're doing good. Like keep going. And then someone who knows the industry that at the end, they can be like, okay, you have this book, it's ready to go because too many authors spend so much time with this manuscript going through and.
Moving a comma from this side of the word, to the other side of the word and like reading over and over. And like, I don't know, I shouldn't, I'm not ready, but, and if you have someone that can kick you in the butt and be like, it's done, leave it alone, send it into the world.
David Gwyn: I think some people, and, and I'm, I'm guilty of this too. When I first started thinking about writing coaches, I thought it was like, you find somebody who will teach you how to write, and that's not necessarily the way it works. It was really about meeting you where you are and improving you in whatever format that you're going through.
So helping you think through like, okay, like, do I need to structure. Does this have structure? Do I, where do I need to change things? As opposed to someone who's gonna come in and tell [00:16:00] you, okay, you need to fill out this worksheet and then you need to do this. And I, I feel like that's the kind of coaching that I'm hearing about more is that kind of fluid depends on you meet your client where they are, and
Megan Clancy: I'm not gonna lie.
I have the worksheets, if you want the worksheets, right? Like if you need the structures and the systems, I got those for you. What I like to say is, yeah, I'm not gonna come in and try to change what you're trying to do. You are the expert in your story. When you come to me, I have no idea about what your story is or what you want it to be.
You will always be the expert in your story. What I'm the expert in is figuring out how to help you tell that story. And figuring out, how do we approach this story? What do we need to focus on? Where can we expand? Where can we contract? Where can we help the arc move a little faster or a little slower or those kind of things.
So, yeah. Yeah. I'm going back to that. Like, what is the MFA missing it's story? And a lot of people have a good idea of what they wanna say [00:17:00] may be kind of, sort of, they have that idea of that perfect character or that plot or that setting. But a lot of us are missing the story. So you have, you have your story, you want to tell, and I kind of just guide you in how to tell it
David Gwyn: I think too, Even having someone dedicated, who's just outside your story.
Who's constantly looking in and saying like, Hey, that doesn't make sense. Or this doesn't or, you know, we're, we're missing something here. I feel like is so valuable.
Megan Clancy: Yeah. And having the, the person that, you know, has a strong background and you know, certification behind what they're doing and they've studied this and they know, they know story, they know the industry, they know they have the experience in the background is very helpful in.
Because critique groups are great. You have to have those people that are there to support you and constantly look at your work and all this kind of stuff. But critique groups can be detrimental when it's just, it's a [00:18:00] group of writers, just like you who are reading your stuff. And they're like, yeah, I like your stuff, but you should change this period to a.
because if we're at the point that we're just futzing with punctuation, but there's huge gaps in the story or that kind of foundation that's missing. It doesn't do you any service to have people, you know, talking about punctuation or dialogue tags or grammar stuff when there's foundational things that need to be altered.
And I think that's, that's one of the biggest things that a book coach can look at either if you have a complete manuscript and you give it to a book coach and say, help me. Which I am fine. I love doing. And if you're at the brainstorming phase, a book, coach can kind of be like, okay, this is a great story idea.
Let's go forward. But these are gonna be some holes that we need to, plan for before you write 500 pages and have this massive gaping hole. .
David Gwyn: That's so awesome. And I'm glad you brought up that, that [00:19:00] certification process. Cause I know you're an author accelerator certified book coach.
Yeah. Can you talk a little about why you signed up for that and what that process was like? Because
Megan Clancy: I had no idea that a book coach was a thing, just like a lot of people and we, I mean, the pandemic did a lot of stuff for a lot of people when it comes to career trajectory definitely having a child at the start of the pandemic and being kind of lost in that postpartum anxiety, depression, Malay.
What have you found that writing was one of the first things to go and just cuz mostly I didn't have the time. I mean. The playgrounds were closed. Daycare was closed. And my two year old had decided he wasn't napping anymore. so time went out the window. And writing was just one of the first things that went and I quickly realized that was not good because writing has always been my therapy and that's what I needed at the time.
but you feel very abandoned and lost and isolated, just as many [00:20:00] people were at the time. And I found this great community on Twitter of writers. And this is kind of a side step to your author accelerator question, but it's leading there. I promise . And that's when I found all the mom writers. On Twitter, which was just like my saving grace, some of your past guests, like Annie and Jessica and Toby and Kelly.
Yeah. All the wonderful women on mom's writer's club. And it was like this great Venn diagram of, you know, I'd been with writer groups before, but they didn't understand that. I can't just write all day. I can't. I have, I have children and I had groups of mom, friends who didn't understand. Just stop writing.
I was like, no, we can't that's that's not a thing I can do. . And so you had this great intersection of this wonderful community and in this community being on Twitter and interacting with the writing community online, I started seeing things from Jenny Nash about this, this group that she, or a company that she runs called author [00:21:00] accelerator.
And she was really looking at like encouraging writers to come and work with her book coaches. And I saw a book coach. I was like, wait, wait, what is this? And so yeah, got into author accelerator that way and found that is this, this great community of book coaches, which is fantastic that I get to add that to my group of support people.
And it's a great program that really. It kind of takes everything that I felt was missing from that MFA program and just accelerates it through, you learn every aspect of story and, you know, introduced to all these fantastic writers about writing and craft. And you learn the craft of it. You learn the business side of it, which I kind of dipped my toe into being a querying author and understanding that kind of stuff.
Definitely. It was a crash course in, in writing and craft and just highlighted a lot of the stuff that I already knew and brought a new way of looking at other [00:22:00] things. And so, yeah, I, I set that as my goal for the year was to get through this course and get my certification and get this business going and now I'm here and it was, yeah, getting that letter saying you're certified was kind of like.
That was a, that was a good
David Gwyn: day. Yeah. I bet. I mean, a lot of hard work. I mean, I think it, it has to be right. it wouldn't be worth it if it didn't feel that way. Right. If it didn't feel like you were learning something and that you were ready to
Megan Clancy: give back and yeah. And that was, that was the biggest point after I had this community of mom writers and I knew how many.
Were struggling with certain parts of our writing. I was like, this is the avenue that I can give back. This is how I can support these people that have supported me so much. As I was doing the, the coursework and that kind of stuff, you start to get this feeling like, oh, this is for me.
I, I think this is, this is, this feels right. And then part of the coursework is you have to actually work. Volunteer writers. And you have to set up clients and so starting to do that client work, [00:23:00] I. Yeah, no, this is good. This is what I wanna do. That's awesome. It just felt so fantastic to, I think my favorite part for me is watching a writer fall in love with their story.
Like they come in with this idea and they're like, I could be really excited about this idea. And you're like, yeah, no, let's go, let's do this. And the more you work with it, the more they fall in love. And maybe for a second, they're like no. And then you remind them of like, no, no, no, you love this story.
And then watching them re fall in love with it is oh, fanstastic.
David Gwyn: Yeah, that's so fun. And so. Maybe a hard question, but I, I, I feel like you, you can answer it. What is maybe , what is maybe the most, one of the most valuable lessons you learned in getting your certification? Either something that you use on a daily basis in your own practice or something that you pass along to, to
Megan Clancy: writers?
Yeah, I think it's, it's the persistence aspect . That there's gonna be times that you do heaps of work and it goes right in the bin, but it was all worth it. Right? A [00:24:00] lot of, a lot of writing is writing towards what you need to write. you can spend a year writing stuff that no one's ever gonna read, but it's gonna be that foundation that you need to.
To write the story that needs to be told. So yeah, definitely the persistence and through the whole process, because I get very focused on, okay, I want this to be done at this time and I'm gonna work there. And if I don't get there, you can feel like you failed at something or. it's having grace with yourself, just having that, like, okay.
Everything's not gonna happen on your timetable and publishing moves super slow . And so if you're one of those eager people that like it has to be done now, and I it's, it has to be perfect now. That's that was, I think this whole process has definitely been an education and the, my disillusionment with perfection and it never has to be perfect.
It's never going to be perfect and just keep working at what you want [00:25:00] to do. .
David Gwyn: Yeah, I, I think it's so funny that you say that because I, I was listening to another podcast recently and I don't even remember which one, but it, it was somebody talking in there basically saying like, they look at their own work and still see things that they would improve looking back.
I mean, like you said, with your book and so it's, it's never done it. It's just the best that you can do right then. And that you can't, that that idea of perfection is, is. It's so outrageous, especially in creative careers, art, careers, things like writing and things like art. It's just not feasible. You know, perfection is just not feasible.
And that you have to be comfortable.
Megan Clancy: Absolutely. As long as you feel like. I did my best. It's out there in the world and let's move on. I think it was, it was one of the green brothers, either Hank green or John Green that I remember hearing him say like, once it's published, I never read it again. And I'm the same way.
Like I will not go back and read that book that I've published because I'm gonna find a million things that I wanna change. And it's just gonna make me feel [00:26:00] terrible. why would you wanna go and change something? You can't change anymore. So just leave it alone and write something new.
David Gwyn: I wanna pause here because I was so interested in this idea of how a book coach works with a client. Like Megan said, they're like a trainer at a gym. You can go to the gym all by yourself. If you want the best results, you probably need to work with someone. And beyond that, make sure the person you're working with is someone who's gone through the proper training themselves.
In the description for today's podcast, I dropped in some really great freebees for you. Check out the six things to think about before hiring a book, coach or editor, plus a free giveaway to help you discover the heart of your story by unearthing your story point. These are such valuable resources. I highly recommend you checking them out.
They're both linked in the description in the next part of the interview. Megan shares how she thinks about working with different. It was interesting for me to think about where I fell on this spectrum. Let's go back to the interview now.
The people who interact with me through the podcast are people who have a few manuscripts that are done.
They [00:27:00] moved on the next one. They've got a bunch of years under the belt. They. Really close and they're just trying to
Get over that hump. I feel like that persistence piece is a lot more important. The later you get in a writing career when there's not a lot of positive reinforcement when you're, you know, you're on that third or fourth manuscript.
And, and so do you, the writers that you tend to work with, are they newer ones? Are they ones who've had some experience and, and, and how do you coach them through that idea? Persistence in the face of difficult odds.
Megan Clancy: Right? Both I coach people across the board. And it's each writer is different, right?
The type of encouragement they need. Granted, I said, need not want because that's a big thing. Looking at a book coach, like who you're gonna work with, maybe they're gonna give you not the advice or the encouragement or the support that you want, but it might be exactly what you need. Right. Because some of us wanna be Cod and told it's okay.
And, [00:28:00] but that's not what we need in this industry. I will help you grow a thick skin. I'll do it. but , you gotta grow that thick skin. But going back to your question was like newer authors definitely need a lot more craft help typically. understanding story and someone who's done it a while and not just sat there and wrote five books on their own, but they've, you know, they've put in the work and they've also gone to the conferences or they're in the community.
They've read a lot. They understand what needs to be done. Those are the people that need the like encouragement and maybe. A new way to look at how are they approaching story? Cuz if you're just sitting, remember the, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
So you can come at me and tell me, you wrote five books, so you don't need my help. And it's like, okay, you wrote five books, but did they go anywhere or are they just manuscripts in your desk? Or maybe a lot of the women that I work with are like, well, I've published two books already. What can you do to help me?
Okay. Were [00:29:00] those two books before you had children? and now you gotta figure out how to write a book with like kids running around in the background or how to manage that time. Cause it's very different when you're a single person on your own, you can write whenever you, you know, you have the weekends free, you do all this kind of stuff.
You didn't really have to be accountable to, to someone else in your writing process. But maybe now you need that accountability person because you need to be able to prioritize and you need to figure out how to work your creative life around your real life.
David Gwyn: No. Yeah. And that's honestly where I, I, I kind of want to go next, which is mm-hmm , you know, you usually, it seems like we're, you know, you're working with mothers who are, who want a writing career and, and I have kids.
And so I, I have a, at least semblance of this, of how little time you have when, when you become a parent. Yeah. And, and. How much time you feel like you wasted before becoming a parent and so,
Megan Clancy: oh yeah. Had to go
David Gwyn: back. Right? Cause you, I feel like I was like, I didn't know what tired was. Like. I had no [00:30:00] sense
Megan Clancy: of what tired.
I remember people telling me like, You don't know what tired it is. I like, I pulled all nighters in college. I know what tired is. And it's like, no, no, no, it's just not, it's a different
David Gwyn: kind of tire, very different. It's very different. And so I, I, you know, candidly, I often feel guilty as I'm sure other writers do.
And I'm sure, you know, parents that you talk to and, and mothers that you talk to like that time where you're like sacrificing time with your kids for time writing and. If you're talking to a mom that's struggling with that. Or there's one listening now and, and thinking to herself, you know, like that's a, that's a something that she struggles with.
As, as, like I said, I do too. What, what's something that you say to the writers that you work with, who might have those feelings?
Megan Clancy: I get you , I'm totally there with you. I understand. And anyone that comes to me and says, I, 100% do not feel guilty about not being with my kids while I'm. I'm gonna call BS.
And on the other side, any writer that [00:31:00] says, I do not feel, I feel 100% not guilty when I'm spending time with my kids, that I'm not writing because that's the hard balance. I probably feel a little more guilty about not writing when I'm with my kids than the reverse, but because a lot of it has to do with intention.
Just like when you're writing a story. you need to have intention the whole way. You need to understand what the focus and point of your story is so that all your writing can be towards that intention. I feel like as a writer, you need to come at it with intention, especially mom writers, because there is so much in this world that is telling us as a mother, you need to be.
With your kids and everything you do needs to be in the service of your children. And anything outside of that is not necessary is not blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. If you come at your writing with intention and you know what this story is and the message you're trying to send with it and what you're trying to do with your writing, that makes it feel [00:32:00] important.
And that's why it's very important to have people in your life that support that intention and support that necessity of your writing. But as long as you in your head can say, no, there is a purpose to what I'm doing. And it's important to me. If it's just me, that's fine. But that intentionality in your writing practice is what makes it a bit easier when you're like, yeah, I'm not totally focused on my kids right now, but they're okay.
I'm not like , I mean, honestly, yes. Some of us leave them in front of the TV for a half hour, just so we can write. And that is awesome. I don't. I remember being the mom. That's like, I'm not gonna have the electronic babysitters. Ha yeah.
David Gwyn: If I can, the reality kicks in pretty
Megan Clancy: quick. Oh yeah. If I can throw an episode of Octonauts on the TV 20 minutes so that I can get 20 minutes of writing because I didn't get my writing earlier.
Which is something else we can talk about, but I definitely think intentionality [00:33:00] is the way to just as long as, you know, you are doing this with a purpose and there is a reason behind and you, you make it a priority in your life. It helps alleviate the guilt a little bit. And another thing that I've really found helpful, and I know this is gonna be divisive with people that are like, I'm not a morning person.
A lot of us aren't and a lot of us want as much sleep as we can get what I have found very helpful in the reverse of not feeling guilty about not writing when I'm doing other things is I get up early and write not for the, I mean, you hear a lot of people talk about the reasons of getting up early to write is you get the words in and you have all this quiet time to focus on your craft.
For me, it's more of a selfish thing in. If I get up early and write, no matter what else happens during the day. I've written, I've had, whether it was a half hour, two hours, depending on, I am very fortunate to have a partner that helps me and he will take care of [00:34:00] the kids early in the morning before we have to start our day, if I need like an extra half hour.
But having that writing time in the morning is totally for myself. So. Because as mothers, as parents, we spend the rest of the day serving someone else, either it's your kids, or you go and you have a full time job elsewhere, and you're doing something for somebody else. But at least you started the day with writing for yourself.
You focused on this goal and this dream and this story that you are trying to complete. . And so if it gets to lunchtime and I haven't written anything else, if it gets to dinnertime or bedtime and it's after bedtime and I'm exhausted, I do not have the creative, physical, or mental energy to write anything more.
I wrote this morning and I did spend some time on me and my craft today.
David Gwyn: I'm a huge proponent of the, of the morning. I I'm like I, I get up between four and four 30 every morning. And like, I I'm always like the 5:00 AM [00:35:00] writer's club. Like you guys are late, but
Megan Clancy: where have you all been? We're
David Gwyn: here. Yeah. , I'm waiting for you.
But I feel like I'm a better, and, and to your point, I feel like I'm a better parent when I've had that time. Absolutely. Right. , I feel like I can like engage with my kids in a way that like, I. Thinking in the back of my head when am I gonna steal some time for myself? I already did
Megan Clancy: it.
And you remove kind of, it sucks to say this. Resentment. Like, I know this is a thing with a lot of, especially women that, you know, you've given a lot for this child and you've given up a lot for maybe your spouse gets to go and work all day. I. I'm not above admitting. , I've had multiple times where I've been very resentful of my husband who gets to go and not only be away from the children for an extended period of time but gets to focus on his career and what he wants to do.
And then also being a little resentful towards my [00:36:00] kids of. I could be writing right now, but no, I'm sitting here playing with your stupid Legos for the 4000th time today. and I'm done. And so, yeah, getting that early time in, lets me mentally readjust and be like, okay, I've had my time to focus on that and now I'm gonna focus on you and whatever you wanna play, let's play.
And I'm not gonna be as frustrated about it.
David Gwyn: yeah. Yeah, no, it's true. Especially, you know, when you, when, especially if you've had a good morning writing, I feel like if I've got a good one, I'm like, I'm good for the day. Like I am energized. I feel great. I'm engaging. Like it's, it's when those mornings, when I, when I don't and that like I said, I'm just a, not as good of a parent,
Megan Clancy: On those days.
Yeah. And be honest, you're never like, regardless of whether you write in the morning, you're always writing in your head and when you're sitting there playing those games, Planning out a scene or whatever it is. There's, if you are a writer and please everyone stop calling yourself, [00:37:00] aspiring writers or whatever, if you're writing, you're writing, even if you're not sitting in front of your computer right now.
But you constantly have that story going in your head. That's what makes writers such like weird people and fantastic people. And I remember being around a group of writers for the first time and being like, oh my God, these people get me because everyone else in my life, when I've talked about. You know, you see someone and you start like thinking of their backstory in your head.
It's like, oh, other people don't do this. This is strange. . So you're constantly thinking about story and you're constantly writing in your head, but it's having that alone time where you can focus and yeah, the Like voice to text on your phone is a lifesaver of taking down those quick ideas when you can't jump on your computer and write as a parent.
But yeah, definitely that morning time, even though you're gonna be thinking about the story the rest of the day, it kind of alleviates the pressure of, no, I need to actually work on this story. You're always working on this story. Don't stress about it.
David Gwyn: Yeah. So let's, let's talk a little bit about you specifically as a, as [00:38:00] a book coach.
You do a 15 minute complimentary consultation where writers can get on the phone with you and, and talk. And so what does that conversation usually sound like? Like, what are you looking to cover in that call
Megan Clancy: first and foremost? It's like, What do you need? What do you really wanna focus on? What point in your writing are you at?
Do we, and actually it says 15 minutes, but getting me to stop at 15 minutes is ridiculous. I can, if someone wants to talk about writing and story, that was like one of the biggest draws of this profession to me was like, I get paid to sit around and talk to people about their story and writing. This is fantastic.
So 15 minutes can quickly. Spiral into a lot longer. And a lot of times those, those consultations sessions start to be brainstorming sessions and let's figure out where you're going with the story and what you wanna do. But aside from what's being said, we're starting to feel each other out. And like, are you a writer that I wanna work with?
Am I a coach that you wanna work with? Can we work together? What's our priority. I'm looking to see [00:39:00] that drive and that passion. Where are you at in your writing? And like, am, am I gonna be beneficial to you? Because if I don't want you to just hand over money and not have this be something that you're truly invested in or something that you're, you know, are you gonna follow up?
Are you gonna , you know, stick to those deadlines. And is this gonna be a valuable connection for both of us and a lot of it's on the writer's side, they have to figure out if you. Am am I the type of person that they wanna work with? Do we have a good communication style?
Are you comfortable with me? I think that's the biggest thing for writers to think about when they're, if they, if, and when they're hiring a writing coach and it's, it's the same with, you know, when you're talking to a possible agent or a publisher, like, am I comfortable with this person?
Because you're letting them into your creative process. That is such a vulnerable situation. I mean, I know people that have written for years and never let their spouse look at their writing. Like this is, this is really a big step to let [00:40:00] someone in and read your writing and be involved in your creative process.
So you have to be comfortable with that person. You have to trust that person and know that like, I can be myself, I can let my creative walls down a. And be open to what they have to offer me. So yeah, a lot goes on in that 15 minutes and it really depends on the writer and what they want, but mostly it's, it's figuring out.
Okay. Have you finished your manuscript? Are you halfway through what problems do you see? And then let's, let's go from there.
David Gwyn: And so if, if you're talking to we're talking to writers who are I'm sure. Thinking about, about getting a writing coach or having a writing coach, what, in, in that phone call or another phone calls or whoever they're talking to, what are, what are things like, maybe like the top two or three things that you think writers should look for in a writing coach?
If there was like a, a short list that you were like, just focus in that conversation, especially, but kind of O overall. On like two, maybe three things that they should think about. What do you think those would be kind
Megan Clancy: of [00:41:00] a lot of this stuff. Like we talked about, you know, that trust level, just that general, there's a feeling, you get a gut feeling about someone, but if we're thinking about tangible stuff definitely look at recommendations, ask them, you know, like, I mean, there is a confidentiality, but a lot of times, I mean, a good coach should have some recommendations on their website and, you know, ask some of your writer, friends, if they've heard.
About, you know, this, this person and has anyone worked with them? Cuz yes. Confidentiality. I'm not gonna tell you. I worked with so and so unless they say it's okay for me too, anyone who starts name dropping would be a bit of a red flag for me. So look at recommendations and then talk about understanding.
What they read and what are they interested in and what, what genres do they work with? It's very important that they understand not only because writing a thriller is very different than writing a literary, novel writing a romance is very different.
And so [00:42:00] understanding how to write a story is very key, but they have to understand the intricacies of that genre or the type of writing that you're trying to. Not only from the craft level, but understanding that they know the marketplace around that. Like I'm not gonna sit here as a romance women's fiction writer and say to a thriller writer.
Yeah. I know the agents you need to be going for in the publishing house is I don't know that that genre that, well, I could do the effort and the research and the figure it out, talk to the right people. But you want someone who knows. The genre that you're trying to, to write towards and the market around it, because it's all well, and good.
If you write a great story, but if it's not really suited for this time and place and that's always a, a conversation. I just had a conversation with a writer last night, who she has this great idea for a story, but we're trying to figure out. Is it one of those too soon stories? Are we, I mean, everyone's this, isn't a [00:43:00] pandemic story, but that's the big conversation right now, you know, are people ready for COVID stories yet?
Are they not? So just understanding the, the specific marketplace that you're trying to get into, having a coach that's aware of everything going on in the industry is very key, but yeah. Recommendations, understanding their work style. What they specialize in and, and who they work with. That's kind of those, those key ones.
David Gwyn: , those are great things to think about for, for writers . And like, I, I think you put it well, like it's not necessarily a new thing, writing coaches. It's just something that seems to be more prominent than it used to be. And, and something that it's funny, everyone I talk to who has a writing coach talks about how great their writing coaches and anyone who doesn't is like, I don't know.
I don't know. And so I, I hope that this is these conversations and having, and talking to writing coaches, makes people think about that more. And I, I think it's, you know, how, how much is it worth to you? Absolutely. You know, how much is. Is your literary success worth to you is, is a question that people need to, to ask.
Yeah. And for everybody [00:44:00] it's, it's different, you know, if not everybody needs to publish traditionally, not everybody needs to have a ton of success. They just want like their book out there and that's perfectly
Megan Clancy: fine. And I would say across the board, regardless of what publishing avenue you wanna take a book coach.
Provide something in all areas. And, and yes, it is a relatively new profession, but only because it's relatively newly needed. If you look like the history of publishing and everything, we used to have these big publishing houses, where if you got in with this publishing house, your editor was your book coach.
You had someone that was there to work you through a story and help you along the. They don't have time for that anymore. I mean, anyone that hasn't been living under a rock in the literary world over the past year, two years has seen this mass Exodus from publishing editors, publishers, agents, everything, because it's exhausting and it's draining and they don't have time to do the work.
They [00:45:00] really wanna do book. Coaches are coming in and filling. Thing that used to be there because you know, back in the day, editor publishing houses had a few books that they would publish a year and they had people that had time to do all the things that a book coach now does. Now they're just trying, they're, they're pushing out hundreds of books a year and there's no time to focus on the author and their craft and those kind of needs.
But yeah, across the board, whether, I mean, if you're trying to get traditionally published, I say very important to have a book coach just so that you're writing what you need to be writing. And if you wanna, self-publish kind of even more important to have a book coach on your team so that you have the educated literary eyes because I know a lot of people go the self-publishing route or the indie publishing.
because they wanna write what they wanna write and the, the powers that be, and the gatekeepers don't want that. And I get that mentality. I totally [00:46:00] understand. And, but you do wanna have a well written piece, if you're going to do indie publishing, you wanna do it right. And have it done well, and so, yeah, even more important.
So we can remove the stigma of self-publishing is just for people that can't get traditionally published, which is bull. If we wanna remove that, we have to continue to produce quality work. And if you wanna produce quality work, having someone like a book coach on your team is kind of the best way to go.
David Gwyn: That makes a lot of sense. So as we kind of wrap up here, are there any books, movies, or resources that you suggest for aspiring writers?
Megan Clancy: Oh, David, you asked about book recommendations and , that's just opening it.
I was going through my stacks of like, oh, how do I keep this minimized? my first and foremost is you have to read in the genre that you're writing. I understand people that say, I don't wanna read the genre I'm writing while I'm writing it, because it'll affect my writing. Fine. If that's your mentality, don't do [00:47:00] it while you're writing your particular thing.
But you have to be well read in your genre current. Like if you're trying to write a romance and the only romance books that you've written have Fabio on the cover, , it's, it's not gonna work. Or if you're trying to write a mystery, right. Or a crime novel, and the last crime novel you read was a Sherlock Holmes book.
You don't understand the current context of you're writing it and you have to understand what's going on now so that you can write a piece that can fit in that conversation. Now when it comes to craft books, I think my craft book library is almost as big as my fiction library, but some of my top recommendations, obvious, I'm sure some of these are like the tried and true when it comes to just memoir on the craft.
Steven King's on writing. That's your best bet. I mean, he just, yeah. I love, I had never read a Stephen King book before reading his craft book, and it's just fantastic on the life of a writer. And to know that someone that is [00:48:00] so phenomenally successful now had such a hard time getting there, I think is a great like message for any writer.
And it, it sh shows you perseverance. And I also love how he mentions straight out in there that he is like, I would not have been able to do this without my wife. Like , if someone wasn't there to cook clean and take care of the kids. I couldn't have spent as much time on my writing as I do. Craft books, story genius by Lisa Kron is key.
I am very much focused on character and that third rail through line emotional arc of a story. So story genius is definitely the way to go there. If you're writing romance in particular ING the. By Gwen Hayes is kind of a, go-to just structure beat by beat how to fill out a romance story. Emotional craft of fiction.
Donald mass is a master of craft writing books. And so that's kind of my favorite of his . Writing down the bones with Natalie Goldberg is also another good craft one. And then when it just comes to [00:49:00] creativity, my two favorites are war of art. Instead of the art of war, war of art is a great one, just about being a creative person and inspiring that.
And then I know this. A big one, lots of peel red, but big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I will admit it gets a bit woo, woo. At times. And I'm not the biggest fan of woo woo. But she does have some very quality points in there and just about living a creative life and going back to what we were talking about, like making your creativity intentional and making this a necessity in your life, we've been told over and over as creatives, that creativity isn't, what's gonna get you anywhere in life or it's not necessary in life. And I hope that there's lots of people out there that the pandemic definitely helped. You see some prioritizing of that creativity is what is necessary in life.
David Gwyn: Yeah, no, I, what, what a great message to kind of end on too.
And so my last question for you is where can people find you? Where can people look you up?
Megan Clancy: Yeah. Megan, a clancy.com is my [00:50:00] website and that splits into, I have my author side and my book coach side, but yeah, click that book, coach button, all my services. And just kind of like who I wanna work with and what I wanna work on and all that kind of stuff is on there.
I do have starting in, I know this is the end, so , we'll make it quick, but I do have a nano Remo prep course that I'm gonna be running in September. So all that information is on there too, for anyone that's really wants to do it, but wants. Make sure they're using their time correctly in the month of no number.
So yeah. Nice Megan, a clancy.com, check it out. And that's where you can sign up for those consultations and let's chat about how we can work together.
David Gwyn: Yeah. And, and I'll, I'll link to all that stuff in the description. So for anyone who's listening, you'll, you'll have easy access to Megan, Megan, this was so much fun.
I mean, this the time like flew, I know too fast. So if you're, if you're listening, get on a call with Megan, I, it was, it was absolutely lovely talking to you and, and I hope people [00:51:00] take the opportunity just to chat about story with you. Cause I think absolutely. Um, You bring that, that like a great energy and a great.
That business mind, like story mind focus, which I think people are, are really looking for. And so I hope that people take you up on that offer to, to chat for a few minutes. So thank
Megan Clancy: you. Hey, I'm on, I'm on Twitter all the time. M Clancy author. Yeah. And I, I will talk to anybody about writing all day long on Twitter or any of the socials.
So let's chat super
David Gwyn: fun. Yeah. And I'll, I'll link to that too. If you're listening. Thank you. So you can get, you have access to her. So thanks again.
Megan Clancy: Thank you so much. This is great.
David Gwyn: So where are you on your writing journey? And most importantly, where do you want to be?
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You should feel good about that. [00:52:00] And if you're still here, if you could do me a huge favor and rate and review the podcast, it helps so much in telling other writers that this provides helpful information. Don't forget to check the description for those free resources and I'll see you next time.