I loved books as a child, and was compelled to read when I should have been doing other things like studying or even sleeping. It became a compulsion (and a solace) to drop into the worlds of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maya Angelou, John Irving, William Styron, and many more. I couldn’t get enough.
When a teacher in high school suggested I become a writer, that I had talent for that mighty art form, I was stunned and even frightened. I didn’t believe I had the skill, or the intelligence. I worried that I’d never measure up. Certainly, I thought, all the books had already been written and all the great stories had been told. What could I offer? What did I have to say?
Still, somehow, I ended falling into the world of writing and writers. I became a journalist and reported for TV news in Montana, Washington and Oregon. Then, one day, I left TV news and helped other people write book proposals and fine tune manuscripts. Finally, finally, after years of putting it off, I began to write my own stories. I studied creative writing for many years (am still studying actually), and published many books and essays.
Despite my accomplishments, I continually struggle with doubt and fear. Is it too late for me? Am I smart enough? Do I have any real talent? Will anyone care what I have to say in the form of a story?
Despite these questions, I write and write. I love writing. It is as satisfying a path as I’ve ever found. It is challenging, confusing, difficult and often even impossible, but each day that I place words on the page, I am changed within. Over the years, I have learned to trust that what I write with change those who come to the work too. Writing, I’ve discovered, is not a hobby or a fluke, it is a way of life. Story is transformative. I’ve learned, over thirty years of being a writer, to trust this art form and show up to it as often as I can. This skill is what I teach at the Blackbird Studio.
If you are called, as I have been, to write, let’s talk. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell me your own journey to the word and let’s see if there is a way to get you writing well, setting goals, making your art form a priority in your life, and even (one day) submitting your work to the larger world.
“I don’t think there is anyone else teaching anywhere with so much to offer, who has worked so devotedly to uncover, implement in your own work, and teach the real bones of storytelling. You are such an inspiration!”
“After taking a few classes with Jennifer over the past two years, I submitted a completed draft of my memoir. She read it within the time frame we agreed on, wrote an in-depth, detailed summary of her suggestions for my writing, met with me and spent over an hour of her time giving me further suggestions.
During our meeting, Jennifer helped me map out a structure for the book using the characters and scenes that worked. We found important plot points and discussed where those points need to be placed in the book to make the story more dynamic and well-paced, thus making it a more interesting read. Jennifer also made several recommendations for further study, authors and books that can help me with the aspects of my writing that still need developing. She also returned the hard copy of my draft with notes written within the text. I’ve found that very helpful as I continue to edit and rewrite my draft.
Overall, Jennifer’s coaching has given me clear direction on steps I need to take to complete a good memoir. It was the kind of advice I needed from the very expensive editors I have worked with for a fraction of the price. Thank you again, Jennifer!”
“Investing in a manuscript consultation with Jennifer Lauck was one of the best decisions I have made as a writer. While I have an MFA, I have never understood how to effectively structure a story, to make a coherent literary journey out of my experience. Since October, when I received Jennifer’s commentary, my writing process has transformed. I am no longer sitting down at the computer, blindly mapping out a narrative by the seat of my pants. I have a solid outline, a clear road ahead, and I am now freed of the burden of worrying what to write next or if to write it. Instead, I craft scenes from my outline with a clear intention of their role in the larger story, in the hero’s journey. As a result, my scenes have taken on new life. I find myself feeling excited to get to the next scene as I feed off the tension my story is naturally creating. Thank you, Jennifer. I could have spent another decade and thousands more dollars and hours, trying to figure out why editors wouldn’t publish my manuscript. Instead, I am confident that the results of my more focused and informed efforts will result in the publication of a story that is incredibly important to me. I couldn’t think of a more meaningful investment than that.”
“I received Jennifer’s summary analysis of my memoir recently and then afterward spoke with her on the phone. It was a good critique of character development and plot. Afterward I wrote down all my chapters—using short descriptive phrases—on 58 index cards and then laid them out to examine story structure. I also added bullet notes as to what I was trying to do in each chapter, what it was for, what’s the conflict, and where are the huge moments. It was a terrific exercise. I very quickly found two chapters that probably aren’t needed, and I will no doubt move several others. I know I need to develop characters earlier. My book will be tightened and strengthened tenfold. Jennifer was encouraging about my writing, pointing out areas where things worked well and the language was beautiful. She suggested some good books to read to see how other writers succeed at character development. I got a lot of value out of this. We all need an unbiased eye to review a full-length book, especially if we’re new to this.”
“I found Jennifer’s help invaluable. I do have a separate writing coach, but Jennifer is one of the best when it comes to writing memoir. She had me see that I’m the heroine in my book and I want readers to cheer me for me, not someone else. Those words were key to me rewriting the opening chapter and adding about 10 more in the beginning of the book. Once I spoke to Jennifer, the structure of my book also took shape in my head and I could immediately translate her coaching to paper. I was clear and confident after getting off of the phone with her. Thanks Jennifer!”
—Jennifer S. Coken, President of Coken Consulting Company
“Working with Jennifer is a great experience. She welcomed me into her comfortable space and coached my attempt at getting painful memoir out onto the page. We met several times—and I was astonished at her insight and ability to carve through a bunch of stuff and force me to get more clear about the story. Plus, she was really fun to talk to, encouraging and kind. I look forward to working with her some more! Thank you, Jennifer.”
“I first started working with Jennifer about 1 year ago when I decided to write my life. I am an elementary teacher, business owner and mom of twins. I had no idea how to begin to write my life. I knew I had a story to tell, but have never written a book in my life so the task of creating a Memoir seemed overwhelming.
Jennifer has helped me so much in this process, I have taken several classes from Jennifer, Downloading, Craft and Structure and online sessions. I have submitted several pages of my manuscript to Jennifer and had online conferences with her as I live in Shanghai, China. Jennifer sat with me on line and helped me map out my book on the wall with stickies, guiding me where to put the stickies and gave me a complete road map for my book. I can not say enough amazing things about Jennifer and the teaching that I have received. She always has a way of making you feel like you can create anything you want. She is encouraging, funny and so incredibly real. Writing is difficult but writing a good book is even more difficult. In the short time I have worked with her I have been published in the Huffington Post for an article I wrote about my fathers murder and began blogging and writing daily. I am still learning and have a ways to go but I love how Jennifer suggests books to read and give lots of examples of good writing. I can not imagine writing my life without the valuable information I have received from Jennifer. For Jennifer’s background and knowledge of writing her prices are amazing and the teaching you get for the price is an exceptional value. Jennifer loves writing and it shows in everything she does. I highly suggest taking a class from Jennifer, sign up for her blog, send her an email. She is the real deal!”
“Thanks again for the help…You give your all every time and I’m really grateful for that generosity.”