By JR Valrey, The People’s Minister of Information
Writing and reading is fundamental to modern day society; without it we would not record history the way we do now, we would not compute or text anything, there would be no blue prints, class notes, love notes, birthday cards, written proposals, children’s books, books, or movie scripts. The world would be a much bigger and un-socialized place.
Although literacy is widely used, many of us with occupations that depend on it, such as mine – a journalist, still get writer’s block, we are struggling with getting started or where we have nothing else to write, which can happen for a myriad of reasons. When it happens, some of us reach for help.
Hailing from Oakland, Meres-Sia Gabriel is a writer’s writer, and by that I mean that she is someone who appreciates the written word to such an extent that she has built courses around helping writers and soon-to-be writers to better express themselves. She works with writers from all walks of life, who need a writing coach or a support group. Having come from two parents, who are legends in the literary world: Gayle “Asali” Dixon and Emory Douglas, it is in her blood to express herself and help others to do the same. Check out Meres-Sia Gabriel as she talks about the “Life Changing Writing” course that she has created.
JR Valrey: Why did you create your writing course?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: When I first created the course it was a five weeks course, then I expanded it to eight weeks, after clients lamented that they wanted to spend more time together. The program has a unique way of bringing people together who have the right chemistry with each other; they bond in that time and want to continue writing together.
I created my program to fill a void. So many people want to write, and don’t know how to begin. They want to publish, but then have doubts if they should. It can be incredibly frustrating to start on your own. I remember when I was developing the courage to call myself a writer, I tried so many different programs. In fact that’s what helped me create mine, because I could see what was always missing for me as a writer, and as a Black person. Even in the programs I liked there would be something missing. I finally had to hire a life coach to help me get the courage to write and publish. My program is a combination of everything that worked for me along the way and more! I provide the missing ingredients and more! You’re getting coaching, writing “lessons”, insider publishing info, community, cultural and linguistic diversity, and lots of love and support!
JR Valrey: What kind of people have taken your course?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: Previous clients have included people with no writing experience to published authors and writing professors. I’ve had clients from around the world, and across the US. I’ve even had a client who spoke English as a second language, and who grappled with whether she should begin writing her story in English or in Spanish; in that same course were two women from England. So we had all kinds of accents floating around! We all had to train our ears to adjust to different accents in that group. It was fun and funny sometimes.
Some people come into the program wanting to write a book, some want to write a story, improve their blog, incorporate writing in their other projects, etc. – visual artists, educators, community activists, therapists, college students, you name it. There is no limitation. Once you’re in my course you’re no longer someone who “wants to write”. You’re a writer, and I make sure you remember that. My methods help everyone get on the “advanced” track together pretty fast anyway!
Interestingly, the program brings strangers together with perfect chemistry, so you’ll definitely find your writing tribe when you join.
JR Valrey: What does a group consultation and an individual consultation consist of?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: I do a consultation for my 8-week intensive, which is a group coaching program called Life-Changing Writing in 8 Weeks: Write Your Book, Inspire Others, and Leave Your Mark on the World. You can schedule a 20 minute call, where we discuss your goals and what I offer. It’s a lovely call. I enjoy it even if you decide the program is not for you.
I offer private coaching, also. You can schedule the same way, although our conversation will be different once you’re sure you want private coaching.
Sometimes I offer one-day workshops or a workshop series based on the Amherst Writers and Artist Method. That’s not book related. It’s a creative writing workshop that helps you generate new writing.
JR Valrey: What makes a good writer?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: I’d like to approach this question differently. Some people have come into my course with very limited writing experience. They may have been told they’re whole lives that they’re a bad writer. By the end of the first class, I’ll have them writing a story they may not even have been aware was in them. In my course I organize a free public reading for the writers. Guests have cried, laughed, and said they would have happily paid to hear the authors read because it was that good. What made them great writers in five weeks and eight weeks? Them! They invested in themselves, committed to getting support, opened their minds, and did the work.
I create a low-anxiety environment. So people feel comfortable with me and each other. Everyone’s supporting each other. We laugh a lot, in the course. You’re free to be yourself. That’s what brings out the best writing.
JR Valrey: What’s in the workbook that is offered with the course?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: Are you crazy? Lol! I’m not giving that away. Actually the workbook evolves with the course. It has changed a lot since I first began. It’s a collection of information, ideas, activities, and graphic organizers to help you stay focused. It’s a great accessory to the course. But even without it, you’re going to get all of what you need at each meeting. We meet twice a week for eight weeks.
JR Valrey: What has been most people’s hang ups about writing?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: I think a lot of people are afraid of their stories and of being known. Fiction or nonfiction, there is still a fear of “doing it wrong, not getting it right.” We human beings can sometimes fear the thing closest to our hearts, and we come up with all kinds of reasons why we should stop or not start. That’s why I’ve created a framework for intuitive writing. So that we can get out of that hung up place and into our flow.
JR Valrey: What do you want writers to achieve after taking your course?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: Well, I’m clear in the consultation that the eight weeks is meant to lay a foundation for writing your book. I don’t want to predict what someone can or cannot do in eight weeks. Most people come in with the mindset of wanting to “get started” on something. I had a couple of writers who had already started writing their books and were working on their projects in the course.
I offer continued support of monthly coaching for those who’ve completed my course and we have a private Facebook community where we share resources about publishing, writing, and performing opportunities, as well as inspirational messages.
I would like writers to achieve a level of confidence that allows them to write in any environment and under any circumstance without doubting themselves and being hard on themselves. I want them to gather strength in knowing they are exceptional writers, with important stories to tell, and that they have a duty to themselves, their progeny, and their Creator, to write and share those stories.
Most writers in my program are surprised at how confident they are with speaking up in situations that once intimidated them, and how well they write in other areas of their lives such as at work, school, or posting on social media. That’s the unexpected gift of the course.
JR Valrey: Do you have to have a writing project in the works before you join the class? If not, what are the prerequisites before applying?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: No. Just a story in your heart.
Schedule a call with me www.lifechangingwriting.com
JR Valrey: How do people contact you?
Meres-Sia Gabriel: Website: www.lifechangingwriting.com