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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight: Christine Wolf

author Christine Wolf and her book Politics, Partnerships, & Power

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Writing heals like no other approach I know. When done with intention, writing urges us to reflect on the most important matters of our lives and deeply connects us to others. As a trauma-informed memoir coach, I know firsthand what a powerful tool writing can be, one that not only helps authors develop a personal sense of agency, but also one that connects readers to individuals and circumstances and worlds they may otherwise have never known or understood. Writing opens eyes, minds, hearts, and doors. It builds understanding and inspires us to see the world through the eyes of others. What other singular process exists that can educate, entertain, help process pain, enrich others’ lives, promote stress relief, strengthen memory, deepen our thinking, gain awareness, advocate, meditate, and transform lives? It’s such an honor to call myself a writer and to work with others as they develop their personal approaches to the craft. Getting to work from home with writers who work in a variety of genres and live throughout the world is a dream come true. Every day, I wake up and marvel that memoirists trust me with their life stories and ask for my opinion on their efforts. Don’t get me wrong. Writing — and coaching — is hard, non-stop, exhausting work. It’s also rewarding, purposeful, and deeply humbling. I know how fortunate I am to have found a career that keeps me engaged and excited every single day.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? I don’t believe in writer’s block. What I know is that we all find ways to distract ourselves from writing, be it the Internet or flat-out avoidance or negative self-talk or some other method. Then, when we finally sit down to stare at a blank page, we naturally feel uncomfortable. And, to soothe our discomfort, we dive back into our distractions. It’s often a vicious cycle to break. So, if I’m staring at a blank page with no idea what to say, I don’t beat myself up for anything that went on before. I simply write through the discomfort of not knowing what to write. I literally write the phrase, “I don’t know where this is even going, but I’m going to start, and…” Then, I finish that sentence. It’s that easy.

What is your favorite time to write? There is never a bad time to write, and I try to take advantage of every moment. The key for me is to mix it up and grab hold of inspiration when it strikes. I love a sunny morning on the couch with coffee and my laptop, sitting by a roaring fire. I also love a cold, rainy day, typing at my desk with a space heater blowing on my feet. Sometimes I write in my Notes app on my phone. Other times I’ll put down my client work, open my Remarkable2, and start handwriting pages. I’ll write in my journal before I go to sleep, and I’ll write on scraps in the kitchen while I’m cooking. My favorite time to write is when I feel the urge to stop whatever it is I’m doing and record my thoughts before they leave me, and it’s a privilege to make space for those moments.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? One of my mentors once told me that the best writing has the power to save a life and/or change the world. Pretty powerful stuff. And so, when I set out to write, I try to do it with those goals — and my ideal reader — in mind. It’s such a privilege to take the thoughts in my head and the feelings in my heart and share them with other people. I consider myself fortunate to have readers willing to take the time to read what I write, so I try to remember what it is that keeps readers coming back. I ask what’s in it for them? I ask what they might need to hear…and what they might benefit from reading. When I’m moved to share my perspective, I make sure to stop and ask myself what sort of message someone can take away? It’s easy to fall into the habit of just writing for the sake of emptying my brain or working through a problem (and I do that ALL the time). It’s another thing to decide to share my writing. I’ve learned over the years that a *successful piece* doesn’t have to be shared 10,000 times or awarded a prize. A successful piece of writing is one that attempts to change the world or save a life.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? There’s never been a better time to discover one’s voice or to share it with the world. Technology makes it easy to connect with readers across the globe, and social media helps to fine-tune the subjects and audiences to which we write. That said, it’s also an incredible time for writers to connect with each other and to learn about the craft. Self-publishing used to be taboo. Now, if done well, it puts writers back in charge of their hard work and their careers. Think about it. We now have endless digital access through ebooks, audiobooks, and more. We’re also becoming more sensitive and mindful of how to support atypical learners (i.e., those with reading disorders, dyslexia, visuo-spatial challenges, etc.) better navigate their reading opportunities — though in my opinion, there’s still a long way to go. I’m still amazed when people say, “Ah, you’re a writer. I wish I had those skills.” For more than five decades, I’ve been holding a pen and building upon my instincts to document life and share my observations with the world. It hasn’t always been easy, especially while navigating life as a newspaper columnist during some turbulent times in the industry…but I’m forever in awe that writing isn’t something everyone approaches like I do, with exuberance and delight and fascination. I’m astounded that, for many, the notion of writing strikes fear (though I feel the same way about math). I’m excited that I found writing at such an exciting time in history.

Christine Wolf’s Politics, Partnerships, & Power: The Lives of Ralph E. and Marguerite Stitt Church, co-written with Jay Pridmore, is out tomorrow with Master Wings Publishing.