The Blitz

Transcript Deb Courtney

WN_Presents_Deb_Courtney [00:00:00] Jenny Kate: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Fiona Forest at off the vine, a lifestyle blog on the food, fitness, and finesse of living in Southern plant-based life. Find Fiona on Instagram at Fiona A Forest. Welcome to the writer nation podcast. Hey everybody. This is the Writer Nation podcast, and I’m your…


[00:00:00] Jenny Kate: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Fiona Forest at off the vine, a lifestyle blog on the food, fitness, and finesse of living in Southern plant-based life. Find Fiona on Instagram at Fiona A Forest.

Welcome to the writer nation podcast.

Hey everybody. This is the Writer Nation podcast, and I’m your host Jenny Kate. Every week I bring you conversations and discussions with members of the writing and books community. And I share this with you for a couple of reasons. One, the world needs the creativity and insight that you have inside you. I hope you find some inspiration here to keep writing your book.

I also hope to bring readers into the world of writing, you know, lifting that veil because you can find a deeper connection [00:01:00] to your favorite writers here. So with that, let’s get started.

Today’s guest is creative extraordinaire, and founder of Courtney Literary, Deb Courtney. So Deb and I met in Colorado Springs about seven years ago, and I got to tell you, she is one of the most creative and quirky people I know. So you know, you have a friend that you just feel more creative around when you’re talking to them and you’re hanging out with them.

Well, that’s exactly how I feel when I’m hanging out with Deb. Ironically, she’s a project manager by day, but she incorporates a fascinating systems look into her creativity and how you as a writer can use systems thinking to be a better and more productive writer. I think you’ll find this talk pretty interesting and she’s got a lot going on in Courtney Literary that we get into, and her thoughts on systems is really a way to help you be more productive.

Which as you know, is why Writer Nation exists to motivate you and inspire you to finish your [00:02:00] project. So, okay, here we go.

Okay. So Deb you started Courtney Literary in 2011.

Deb Courtney: In 2011. Yeah.

Jenny Kate: Why did you do that?

Deb Courtney: Um, it was new, it was a new frontier in publishing. Um, Amazon was allowing people to get books to market. Um, without going through the traditional pathways. And I thought there would be a niche for someone with a background in English, a background in publishing, a background in project management to assist people with books that would otherwise have been purely self-published, but put a discerning eye, add a layer of editing, do you know, professional quality covers, et cetera. And also add kind of the marketing component to that. That was the original idea.

Jenny Kate: So now here we are, fast forward seven years. So over time, talk about the evolution of Courtney Literary and like kind of how that’s evolved over the last seven years and [00:03:00] where you’d like to see it go.

Deb Courtney: Um, I have published 17 books. Um, some of those are not in print anymore for a variety of reasons. Some of those have moved onto other publishers and some of those have reverted back to. Um, the, uh, original officers who decided they wanted to self-publish. And part of the reason for that is that publishing at that level is a really slim margin business.

And as more people become more adept with computer programs and software and et cetera, and as Amazon especially opened up more and more pathways were able to get their work directly to the public, it became less and less effective for me to be a middle person there. You know, the folks that I had a designer work up covers for, could as easily contract directly with my cover artist who was not a direct employee of mine, et cetera.

So, um, I think as people said, I don’t want to pay someone this percentage. I can do all of this myself. Um, I wanted my relationships within [00:04:00] the industry to stay, um, in good standing. And so I spent some time thinking about how I wanted to respond to that. And I made a policy to release people from their contracts so they could move on to whatever other, uh, method they wanted to.

And I published some great books. Um, uh, Aaron, Michael Richie’s, uh, the Suicide King isn’t, he’s an amazing guy and it was an amazing book and that has really se- he has his own company now, so he pulled that and he, that remains one of my favorite projects I was ever involved in. Um, another book that I did called, um, uh, A Portion of the Eternal, uh, it was this beautiful Gothic romance about ghosts and teenagers, and it was gorgeous. And that has been picked up by another publisher and it’s gone on to win a couple of awards regionally in the Tampa Bay area. So I was pretty discerning about the projects that I did, but I just want people to be happy with their publishing experience. So I’ve kind of morphed away from picking up new projects. I might still, if it’s [00:05:00] the right project, and I think it needs what I can bring to it. Um, but I’m looking mostly at kind of education and writing related events. Um, lecturing, consulting, teach people how to do things themselves in really super effective ways. I think that’s a better use of my time. Also, I make more money doing that.

Jenny Kate: Okay. So, um. So you have a background there in project management, right?

Deb Courtney: Yeah. I’ve been a project manager in technology and business and marketing for more than 20 years.

Jenny Kate: So tell me a little bit about that. Cause I feel like that feeds really well into the, in the Courtney Literary and milieu, if you will. Um, because you can use those, those same skills, right?

Deb Courtney: So project management is one of those skills where ultimately you set out to understand a system and how to execute something within a system. And I’ve done a number of different types of projects from, you know, straight business to events to now through Courtney Literary putting books together.

And you find that most types of projects have the same kinds of steps associated with [00:06:00] them. And that’s a skill set that translates really well across a variety of different markets and types of projects. And so when I thought, Oh, I could publish books, it wasn’t out of the blue, it was, I know how to run projects. In projects you have something that you are making happen in this case. I’m making a book happen, right? Or I’m making an event happen and it’s the same steps. It’s the same type of system and those skills, again, overlay very nicely. So then what I did was I made it my business to understand, okay, what are the things that make a book happen so I could do those properly, but every time I have a new project, I have to ramp up on those skills anyway. So it wasn’t particularly daunting for me to apply that to making books happen.

Jenny Kate: Right. Which is interesting because writers tend to just think of words on page done, right? I mean, there’s a whole other system that goes into actually getting that book from your brain page onto the shelf.

Deb Courtney: For publishing books I had a checklist of about 40 [00:07:00] different things that had to happen. First edit, second edit, final edit, post layout, edit. Um, you know, comps for the cover, cover decision, final cover, final check on the verbiage for the cover. Final check on the spine with, against the pagination of the book. There’s a lot.

Jenny Kate: See things people don’t even think about, I mean, people don’t think about the width of the spine, right? They’re just thinking pages.

Deb Courtney: And again, there are some programs that allow people to muddle their way through that. I can create a cover using a variety of different apps these days, or, you know, hire somebody to do it. But you know, I had people who were working those things for me. I had a variety of different printers with different specs, and I would, you know, bid the print job, figure out what does the cover need to look like, what are the specs? Does the cover meet the specs are there, there are a lot of moving small pieces. Whereas a project manager, to me, that wasn’t much different than, um, I have 400,000 lines of code that have to be written to make this program work and we launch it in six months. Go. [00:08:00] There’s still a lot of moving pieces and a lot of tasks associated with that and testing, which is akin to editing. And so the systems weren’t so dissimilar that there wasn’t a familiarity for me, if that makes sense.

Jenny Kate: It does make sense. So, so let’s talk about current Courtney Literary. You’ve got three major kind of sections or projects, if you will, that kind of,

Deb Courtney: Oh I have a couple of projects. I like to do events that are writing focused. And so you go to a writers conference and you learn a lot, but you don’t necessarily do a lot of writing. When you’re at a writer’s conference, it’s all information coming at you as opposed to you processing and working with that information. So a couple of the things that I’m working on on a regular basis would be pub scrawls. So that’s a very fun

Jenny Kate: Wait so, pub, not puppet.

Deb Courtney: Pub, like P-U-B like bar.

Jenny Kate: Like we’re going to Ireland. Pub. Scrawl.

Deb Courtney: It’s a play on pub crawl. And it introduces sort of writing, I mean, alcohol into the writing environment. However, um, for most people, if you’re drinking responsibly, one of the things that I [00:09:00] like about alcohol is it releases some inhibitions and you can get people to shut off their inner editor and just do some really fun, interesting work.

And we’re very responsible and you know, we make sure people don’t leave completely inebriated or they have a designated driver.

Jenny Kate: Disclaimer, done. We got it. All good, healthy, fun. But you do this for a reason though, and there’s a reason we were talking about earlier about neuro linguistics and the processes that you need.

Deb Courtney: So this helps to take a step back from that a little bit. Um, I think that there are some ways that we can add to how we currently teach writing. And so because of my project management background, I’m very adept at breaking things down into very small tasks, micro tasks, if you will. The smallest unit of learning possible. And so what I do when I do the pub scrawl, say it slowly, scrawl, or when I do the other event that I do that’s also writing and, uh, alcohol focused. Uh, I do a monthly write drunk edit sober as [00:10:00] I teach a micro lesson. And the micro lesson could be as simple as the city or town where your main character grew up has an influence on the entirety of your book in this way or these ways, and the things that you need to consider are things like, does the plot execute in the same town that they grew up?

Does the plot execute in a town that’s similar but not the same dissimilar, or are they a fish out of water? And what are the implications for how they interact with all of the other characters. And then you set up some writing prompts to fully explore that and discuss those things. So that’s kind of the micro lesson.

And the way that the overall lessons are set up is based on, um, a lot of studying I’ve done in the field of neuro linguistic programming. This is psychological discipline. Some of it feels a little hooey, so your mileage might vary with this. Um, but one of the approaches that I like is when you approach this from a, a [00:11:00] very, a positive perspective and you reinforce them in certain ways, and those ways are multiple we’re going to talk about it. We’re going to discuss it in full. We’re going to examine the ways in which we can execute it. We’re going to talk about the implications. Then we’re going to do it four times, um, based on four prompts in all of the events that I do when they’re writing related, and then we’re going to discuss how well everyone executed that particular skill.

Jenny Kate: Give me just a concrete example so I can kind of, so I’m not totally following. So what would be like prompt one and two.

Deb Courtney: Um, so I would have brought prompts with me if I was thinking about it.

Jenny Kate: I’m sorry!

Deb Courtney: No, that’s okay. So for the example that I gave just a minute ago, where your character grew up versus where the plot is, your main character is from Manhattan. Your plot takes place in the deep South. Right? So the things that you have [00:12:00] to consider is how comfortable is that person in their, in their own skin, in this place that feels so foreign to them. How’s their communication style going to work there? And now maybe you have a mystery that you have to solve. Um, and the prompt would be, your character is from Manhattan. They have found a leather case filled with many, many, many bundles of wrapped dollars. And a white brick. Go. And then I tell them, set it in the deep South, set it in Maine, set it in Los Angeles, set it on Miami beach.

Jenny Kate: Oh, I see.

Deb Courtney: And then we talk about how the implications of the setting versus where the character is from plays out and changes how your plot will execute, because the character in that case is going to drive certain things about the plot. So we do that for different ways, right? And I try to get people to execute the same one or two [00:13:00] things a couple of different ways, so they themselves can internalize the skillset.

So the next time they sit down to create a character and put them in a plot. They’re thinking at that level, which is a level that we don’t tend to teach when we teach character or when we teach plot. It may come up, but we don’t practice that skill. Let’s take one more step back. We talked a little bit about the metaphor of learning to play the violin, right So you don’t pick up a violin and play a song. You’re not going to pick up a pen and a piece of paper and write a book and it’s going to be perfect the first time through. That’s not how it happens. And so what I’m hoping is this methodology gives people a way to do the small studies. I’m going to draw hands until I understand hands.

I’m going to play twinkle, twinkle little star on the violin until I can make all of these notes work perfectly, and then I will learn another song with a different technique and add onto it. So it’s meant to be an additive. So each successive item that you [00:14:00] have as a micro skill that you pick up feeds into your overall understanding of the work that you’re doing.

And what I’ve been told by people who’ve come to six or more is their first drafts have increased in, um, goodness. They’re better in goodness. They’re better out of the gate because they’re making better decisions and they’re understanding the implications. And one of the things that it’s helping people with is that sagging middle, because they understand the conflict better. Or they understand, you know, how they’re executing their setting better and how their setting is going to drive something or how their use of swear words or somebody’s temper or their inability to emote because that’s the skill.

You have a character who is unable to emote appropriately. Here are the four situations, your characters and write them and now we’re going to discuss them.

Jenny Kate: Oh, I see. Okay.

Deb Courtney: And so when you had a character who has an issue with their own emotions, they can’t approach their own emotions, then you will think about how they interact with other [00:15:00] characters, and that in turn drives your plot.

Jenny Kate: So you’re doing that here in Colorado Springs and how often do you do that?

Deb Courtney: I do that once a month at a local pub called Bar K, uh, and I have about 20 or 30 people who show up and do the writing with me. And we have a lot of fun. I do that quarterly. It’s same concept, but we, my group, it’s a field trip version of it. Um, and I am actually currently working on a book to pull all of that together in these lessons. And I’m also working on a subscription package. So other writer’s groups could buy like a quarterly subscription and execute that for themselves.

Jenny Kate: Oh okay. So if any, so if they want to find out where to get this information, where would we go to do that?

Deb Courtney: Um, probably just email me would be the simplest thing because I have a lot going on.

Jenny Kate: All right. I’ll put your email in the show notes.

Deb Courtney: Yeah, that’s fine. I just want to, I answer my emails.

Jenny Kate: All right. So what’s the, so the next thing though is you’re doing retreats. Because I’ve actually been on one of these Courtney Literary retreats and they’re a lot of fun.

Deb Courtney: Um, so the, the basis behind the retreats again, [00:16:00] is that when we do learning environments for writers, we tend not to spend time writing. And I think that for a lot of people, they get caught up in their day to day life and they really need periodic, um, really focused time away from everything to just with very few interruptions.

And so how I model my retreats is there’s a lot of enforced quite, you know, I was like the quiet time Nazi guy, but there’s a lot of enforced quiet time. I like to make sure the meals are simple and provided. Um, and evenings are, a writing period in the morning or writing period after lunch. We do goal setting.

We report on how we have done achieving our goals. I keep a running tally of words edited, words added, um, stories, finished, novels finished, and we share that because that group dynamic is really amazing. If you come into a retreat thinking I don’t think I can write that much and everybody around you is focused and heads down and writing, you’re gonna write. And when you hear people going, Oh, I wrote [00:17:00] 10,000 words this morning. Okay. On the one hand, you’re going to go, I don’t really like that person and I’m glad I’m not sharing a room with them. But on the other hand, it also inspires you to buckle down and yeah, I can write that much probably. Maybe, or maybe not that much, but more than I am. And even if you don’t get 10,000 words, maybe you get 2000 maybe that’s 2000 then you’ve gotten for weeks. More than you’ve gotten for weeks. So I try to foster an environment that is, um, very conducive, but also some consultative time. So I try to have some professionals around, people who can answer questions, discuss tough points in stories and how to get past them and then do kind of a little more of a relaxed approach to the evenings. People can take off and do what they want to. I don’t think it’s anything extreme as far as a retreat goes, but I try to keep people very focused on doing the work. That’s the point.

And that’s, that’s, you know, 20 years of project management and I am results oriented. If you’re coming on a retreat, that’s fine. If you want to spend all of your time talking and chatting and drinking and walking in the woods or checking out the [00:18:00] stream and that’s good for you. Cause contemplative time is very important to us. But I’m going to task master you through getting some work done because I’m results oriented.

Jenny Kate: I remember when we were sitting there, I recall saying, Oh my gosh, I just got so much work done. And you said that’s the point of the retreat. And I laughed because I’m like, well it worked because I haven’t sat down like in focused for a two- like a two hour solid period of time in I don’t know how many months.

Deb Courtney: There’s something incredibly powerful about being an environment where you’re expected to do a thing, the thing, and then you’re watching everyone else do the thing, and there’s almost a peer pressure element.

Jenny Kate: There is. Yeah.

Deb Courtney: That gets you to go, all right, well, I’ve been having trouble doing the thing, but fine, now I’m going to do the thing. And for me, the thing is, is writing. It’s getting the words out. It’s getting the first draft or you know, whatever it is, your goal is in that particular moment. It’s, it’s now we work.

Jenny Kate: Like for me, it’s, you know, I mean, you know, I’m from Alabama, I love college football, and it’s all about the college football.

Deb Courtney: Roll Tide.

Jenny Kate: Heck yeah, Roll Tide. [00:19:00] And I’m telling you, I mean, 10,000 words, I’m making it 12 you know? I mean, that’s just my mindset. So the fact that I even sat there for two hours was pretty amazing. Um, but I did some contemplative time too. Taking some walks.

Deb Courtney: Restorative time and frequently when we do come contemplative time, we’re working through, uh, things that we want to write as creatives. So that can be very effective as well. So I’m not saying I’m the Nazi who’s going to be, why aren’t you sitting down writing.

Jenny Kate: No, no. You’re providing an opportunity for people to utilize that time in a way they would not do it at home.Right. Because at home I’m going to wash dishes and I’m going to make sure the laundry’s done.

Deb Courtney: And you’re not even going to get that contemplative time.

Jenny Kate: No. Not at all. No. So walking through the woods is one of my favorite ways to just work through whatever that plot problem is,

Deb Courtney: You’re in nature, especially if you can be near water. Which is the Frisco house that I picked, especially. Uh, because I’d had that creek. And it’s really restorative and it takes our brains out of that cycling thing that they, that we tend to do about our daily mundane tasks and really opens you back [00:20:00] up to, um, the creativity that we want to have flowing through us when we do the work.

Jenny Kate: So are you planning for one for this year, right now? Are you kind of waiting?

Deb Courtney: I’m hoping that I can pull it off before the end of the year, but it’s getting, it’s getting a little tight. That Frisco house is available though. I’m working on it. We’ll see. If I can do it, it’ll be announced in probably about a week or week and a half.

Jenny Kate: All right. So if you’re listening, pay attention because that one a good one. I really enjoyed that.

Deb Courtney: Thank you.

Jenny Kate: That was fun. Um, okay, so we hit pub scrawl. I will say it right. I’m sorry. Pub crawl. And we hit retreats. And we hit write drunk, edit sober. What else do you got going on?

Deb Courtney: So my big project right now is, uh, an organization that is focused on, um, all of the things that we’ve just talked about really, um, including a path that has, um, I’ve developed a creativity coaching methodology for people who are interested in coaching writers specifically, and it’s results oriented, [00:21:00] which diff differentiates it from other creativity coaching methodologies.

I was looking to be certified in those methodologies. And what I found is they weren’t results oriented enough for me. They’re fine. They’re amazing, wonderful methodologies. So no slurs against them. But I wanted something that really coached people through getting the work done. So I’ve taken sort of the best of state of creativity coaching, the best of project management. Um, the best of this micro learning concept. Um, results oriented, uh, methodology. And I’ve come up with an overall concept. The concept is tailwind. T, A. L. E. it’s all sailing metaphors, which is kind of dorky, but that makes it easy to remember.

Jenny Kate: But the umbrella, Dan Berlin is tailwind.

Deb Courtney: Tailwind. It’s your writing only faster cause tailwind makes you go faster.

Jenny Kate: Your writing, only faster. Yep.

Deb Courtney: Uh, and a couple of things that we’re doing, there’s a software package that will be offered on a subscription basis, and if you subscribe, you will be part of a crew. Crews will max at 10. [00:22:00] Each crew will have a captain who has been certified in the anchor coaching methodology and they will meet on a regular basis to discuss goals and how well they’re doing to meet those goals and how to set goals appropriately for the next few weeks.

And they’re very short standup meetings. It’s based on agile methodology, which is a project, it’s a very well proven project management methodology. And I have custom software that underlies this. So that’s one piece of tailwinds would be the regatta software. Uh, the other piece would be the anchor coaching methodology.

So all of my coaches, all of my captains will go through that anchor, but I’ll also be offering that as a standalone option for people who just want to be certified and then go do what they would like to do with that. And then the micro lessons, um, will create a learning management. An LMS learning management system, which will be focused heavily on, um, these small micro lessons, which all, again, all the coaches will be [00:23:00] applying when folks have issues.

Uh, but also they’ll be licensing content from some other organizations that have done a really great job bringing learning to writers over the last few years. And for a variety of reasons or not, um, uh, are defunct. Um, but they have great content. So I’m in the negotiation stage with a couple of those organizations.

So I’ll launch with four or five major pieces of learning available and then there’ll be a book on the coaching methodology. Should be in the future cause it’s a lot on my plate right now. Um, but yeah, I have, I have people going through the coaching, the coaching training right now. So I’m prototyping that to make sure that I can adjust that.

I’m about to start the prototyping for the regatta portion. So creating those teams and scheduling those standup meetings to discuss goal setting. And. And actually reaching goals, writing the words, getting work done.

Jenny Kate: So is this kind of like having your own personal trainer for your writing, but you have a group that holds you responsible cause you have goals.

Deb Courtney: Like we just talked about at the retreat, being part of a group that has [00:24:00] similar goals can be really powerful. And what this does is put individual creativity coaching within the reach of people who probably wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise because creativity coaches charge $50/100 an hour to sit down and have a conversation with you about, you know, no, go with that thought and read this book and stay in touch with your inner child.

And it’s all amazing, good stuff. Even though I know I have sarcasm in my voice, but they do really good work. But that’s not accessible for a lot of people. And so I have a subscription base that for, we’re, I think the price point we’re coming in at is probably going to be $29. $29.99 a month. Just try to keep it under 30 and you will have one to two hours of personal private coaching available from your captain as part of that every month.

Most people won’t need it, but some people will. Then you have the team aspect. Your crew kept it 10 on phone calls discussing, this is what I did yesterday. This is what I plan to do for the rest of the week. Here are my impediments. How can I [00:25:00] work around that? And then people who are key to say, is your impediment writing related or is it life related?

If it’s life related, then we need to talk about your goal setting because your goals need to accommodate your life. If it’s writing related, let’s talk through it. Let’s do some offline coaching so that we can get you the resources you need to understand why you’re having an impediment with this scene or this character.

And most of that comes down to that micro skill. Something you don’t understand yet about what you’ve written. It comes, it’s very small, but it has enormous implications because as we all know, as writers, very small decisions can have big implications for what we’re writing. So I want this to be comprehensive and accessible and predicated, again on project management skill that I bring the schooling in a creative writing that I have. All my years associated with publishing. It kind of marries all of that stuff for me and it’s kind of very exciting.

Jenny Kate: So when do [00:26:00] you think this is going to launch?

Deb Courtney: I should launch in January just for subscribers. Everyone who’s going to be going through now is for the prototype. So I can have an adjustment period before I do an official .

Jenny Kate: Gotcha. I understand. All right. So we can put some information about that too in the show notes. Is there anything else you want to discuss while you’re here? We have a little bit time left.

Deb Courtney: Um. I, you know, I, I just, I feel very fortunate that you asked me to do this.

Jenny Kate: No. I love that you’re, I haven’t seen you a couple of years. I’m excited that you’re here, but, and one of the things I like about what you bring to like, I guess my writing world is there is a different perspective, right? I mean, you are looking at it from not just the business aspect of it, but more of the, the learning=

Deb Courtney: Process.

Jenny Kate: Yes. Process.

Deb Courtney: And systems.

Jenny Kate: Yes. And a lot of pantsers have a hard time with that idea of process and systems, but the reality is that genre fiction requires that.

Deb Courtney: All fiction requires it.

Jenny Kate: I will tell you all writing requires that. But you have to get out of the, it’s all art mindset and understand that art is awesome and it comes from inside you, [00:27:00] but to get it across to another human being, you’ve got to figure out the way to do that too.

Deb Courtney: Everything. And it really, the Deb Courtney unified theory of everything, right? Is that everything really is a process and everything has a place in a system. And when you become a system thinker, right, then translating those skills right from your job, right? Cause you don’t go to your job and go, well I’m having a little bit of job block today so I can’t do this, so I’m just not going to do this. I’m going to go do something else.

It’s not an issue there. Right? So why is it you can do it there and you can’t do it with your writing? Why is it that you can look at someone that I have writer’s block. And people are like, Oh, that must be really tough. No, it’s because you’re not stepping back and looking at it as a system and breaking it down into small steps that are approachable, adjustable, flexible, that you can execute in small ways moving forward.

And yeah, so the Deb Courtney unified theory of everything, is that once you step back and look at it as a [00:28:00] system, writer’s block should disappear.

Jenny Kate: Well, it’s funny that you say it that way because I was in Nashville, um, last month and listened to Jeffrey Deaver. Remember he was here in Colorado a few years ago and I listened to in him then too.

Deb Courtney: He’s a work horse right now.

Jenny Kate: Yes, he is a yes, he is. But he was saying exactly the same thing is, you know, brain surgeons don’t get to go in today and be like, nah, I’m not feeling. Sorry. So get your but in the chair. You know you’re going to write something today because that’s what you have chosen to do with your life. You’ve chosen to be a writer. Now, be the writer and stop telling yourself the art isn’t coming today.

Deb Courtney: You know, generally when you feel like, I can’t approach this, I can’t do this. It’s either because you have a life impediment that’s keeping you from freeing your brain to think about this thing that it’s in front of you. Or you have a block because you don’t know how to execute the thing that you think you wanted to sit down and write. And that’s where sort of those micro lessons come in because at that point you can start picking it apart. What is the problem? Why is this not working for me? Why is this character doing this? And sort of the approach that I want to take is, I heard you say earlier [00:29:00] that, and then, and then. Well, somebody else who said it, but then this character walked up and started talking to my people and,

Jenny Kate: Oh that happens to me all of the time.

Deb Courtney: Oh, you’re with the seven sisters showed up.

Jenny Kate: Yeah. Yeah. They did.

Deb Courtney: All of a sudden there’s seven sisters there. Where did they come from? But I think that when you can pick apart the implications of those changes and your creativity is taking you to a place. If you understand things at a very tiny level and you understand things that have very large macro level, you have all the flexibility you need between those two extremes to adjust and keep writing and not be blocked, and then you can always sit down and do the work.

Jenny Kate: Well, and I think that’s important, especially for new writers to understand that look, just because you sat down and wrote a couple of pages does not make you a genius. It makes you an artist. There’s a difference and there’s a whole process involved to help you get where you want to go.

Deb Courtney: Those words aren’t necessarily the right words in the right order, right?But it’s, it’s the best start ever and that’s where we all start.

Jenny Kate: Start, keep writing. Absolutely go. Because you will learn this as you go and don’t get frustrated [00:30:00] because you will get there.

Deb Courtney: And the key, I think, and people will say this over and over again, is to sit down to, now we do the work. When you habituate yourself to doing the work, then you can begin to localize. I have an impediment. This is the impediment. But it’s not writer’s block. You’re not special. You’re brain just didn’t decide to work in that area. There’s something specific there. It’s a systemic blockage or it’s a micro blockage, or it’s an issue with what you’re trying to do or it’s a life issue that you need to accommodate before you can get back to being your full creative self, which we have to, you know, give ourselves the space and the time and the ability to work with those things. Grace. Grace is really important.

Jenny Kate: Forgive yourself.

Deb Courtney: We shall not punish ourselves as artists when it doesn’t go the way that we want to. It doesn’t come out the way that we wanted to. Because the art sometimes has a life of its own.

Jenny Kate: It does, which is why seven sisters show up out of nowhere. I haven’t been drinking, I promise, but it’s there. It’s so weird. But I think too, one of the things that we have to understand when [00:31:00] as we’re writing is that we learn constantly about this writing thing. You don’t start writing just like the, just like violin. You didn’t just learn the violin.

Deb Courtney: You’re going to put that bow on that violin and it’s going to screech. Until you put months and months and years into bowing properly and understand note progressions and fingering properly, which sounds very dirty, but it’s not. If you played a violin, a test that this is actually what it’s called.

Jenny Kate: Well, that’s true on a keyboard too. Right? Fingers need to put the right letters in the right place.

Deb Courtney: And you create that muscle memory over time. Uh, we do the same thing with writing, but usually we’re not given the grace to do that, which is why I kind of have worked all of this stuff out in the approaches that I want to take, because it also includes giving people better, more complete tools . And also the grace within which to execute them and the support with which they can execute.

Jenny Kate: Well. I’m thrilled for you and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this goes down.

Deb Courtney: I am so excited, and it’s terrifying and I’m so excited.

Jenny Kate: You know that I think when things are terrifying, it means they’re great.

Deb Courtney: You’re on a roller [00:32:00] coaster and it’s going.

Jenny Kate: It’s going to be awesome. Well, thank you very much for coming down the show and talking to me.

Deb Courtney: And thank you for this opportunity. It’s good to see ya.

Jenny Kate: It’s good to see you too!

This is Writer Nation.

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