Meet Leigh Shulman; writer, mentor, coach and believer that now could be the time to tell your story! And when you are ready, Leigh will help you find your roadmap too
Hello Leigh – please introduce yourself
I’m Leigh Shulman! I’m a life long writer and traveler.
I’m the author of The Writer’s Roadmap: Paving the Way To Your Ideal Writing Life. This book is based on almost a decade working with writers as they create a plan for their writing lives and make it happen.
I’m currently working on my next book. This book is for my daughter!
It’s a YA sci-fi book I began during NaNoWrimo. When I told my daughter about it, she told me I had to finish it because she wanted to reading.
When I’m not writing, I run my writing mentorship community called The Workshop. It offers you the tools, community support and accountability you need to make your writing dreams come true.
My writing has appeared in publications from Business Insider to Longreads to The Washington Post and Longreads among others.
Tell us why you are thinking of moving to Spain!
I visited Barcelona and Seville a couple years ago and fell in love with it. I found Costa Women around that time, too. It’s my dream to begin a series of writing retreats in Spain. (I used to hold them in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but when I visited Spain, I knew I wanted to host them there.)
Barcelona was amazing. From the art to the food to exploring the streets. I can’t wait to go back. Seville blew me away. It’s so beautiful. Each corner more breathtaking than the next. We drove down to Estepona on the coast to visit my cousin who was living there. What a life!
How did your writing journey start?
When I was 12. I was pissed off about something — I can’t remember what — and I started writing and just kept going and going. I loved it! I wrote my school paper. Wrote stories. And just kept going.
Watch the video of our interview here
What were your roadblocks? How did you deal with them?
Lack of confidence and procrastination. The first leads pretty directly to the second.
Lack of confidence is the number one reason most people don’t write. What if my writing is bad? What if no one wants to read what I say? It’s amazing how many excuses we find that get in the way of writing.
I block time in my calendar for writing and then I sit down to write no matter what. It doesn’t matter what I wrote or how good it is or whether or not some imaginary reader may or may not read it… I simply have to sit down and put words on the page.
The various ways I move past blocks is the basis of The Workshop. This is a group specifically for people who are talented and capable, they just don’t always realize it.
Maybe because they don’t have support. Or because they’ve never had writing classes and feel they need them. Or any other reason we have for not putting words on paper.
And you have created a roadmap – tell us more?
My roadmap includes teaching and writing. They go hand in hand for me.
This year, I’ve stopped taking private clients so I can focus on my own writing — my book, articles and stories — as well as on The Workshop. It’s exhilarating watching people figure out what they want for their writing and then grow into their goals.
The community aspect is favorite part of the group, because it gives me a chance to really get to know what people are doing! You also learn so much more when you have the support and accountability of a group of like minded writers.
The retreats I mentioned in Spain… They’re a little bit down the line, but in my vision, these are the face-to-face, have a glass of wine and relax part of the writing community. It’s exciting and inspiring.
What would be your top tip for anyone thinking about writing their own story?
Just start writing.
I have some worksheet to share with you so you can get started. One for fiction and one for non-fiction.
Then my second best tip is to find a community to support you while you write. (It’s the reason I started The Workshop in the first place, bc I know it works.)
In your book ‘The Writers Roadmap” you said “I do believe we get stuck, and often we’re stuck because we’re doing something we’ve never done before. So being stuck can actually be a sign of growth.” What would be your advice when Women think they are stuck (whether writing, or in life)?
My best writing advice applies to most other areas of life too. Try something. If it doesn’t work. Try something else.
Feeling stuck is normal. No one learned to walk or ride a bike without falling. When we see a child learning a new skill, we encourage them to keep going. Yet when we get stuck, we assume we’re terrible and no one will ever want to read what we’ve written.
When you begin to recognize that stuck feeling as a sign that you’re growing, it makes it easier to keep going.
Do you have any bad habits when you write?
Not really. Not anymore. I used to write late at night and it messed up my sleeping. I also used to smoke. So imagine me sitting up late with a cup of espresso and a constantly burning cigarette.
Good for writing. Bad for me. I’ve spent a lot of time moving away from my bad habits.
How can we set boundaries?
The best way to set a boundary I find is to figure out what you need to sustain yourself, to feel good in your body in mind, to feel happy with your day to day, and then do it.
In the method of creating a writing plan I describe in The Writer’s Roadmap, I include what I call core values. Things like time with family, feeling healthy, enjoying what we’re doing, travel. They mean we enjoy our work and lives in general.
Your boundaries with other people flow naturally from there.
What gets you into the creative zone?
Reading. Reading Reading. (See hero authors above.) Also dancing, yoga, hiking…. basically anything that gets me away from my computer and out of my head.
If something doesn’t fit into what you want and your core values, then you say no.
Who is your writing hero (or heroine) and why?
So many. But currently, Chuck Wendig is top of my mind bc I just saw him speak in Atlanta. His ability to write A LOT and also the way he connects with his audience. I’m reading his new book and LOVING it.
Also.. Ann Patchet. Lydia Yuknavitch. Stephanie Land. Anne Lamott.
What will you achieve over the summer?
My main goal is to finish the current (almost final) draft of my book.
I am waving my magic make it happen wand – what dream can we make a reality?
I’d love for my next launch of the Workshop to go super smoothly and easily.
Actually, I’d love for everything to feel easier. Juggling so many things — family, work, kids, myself — takes so much energy. My goal is to remove the stress and self flagelation that too often goes along with it. And just feel more mellow about everything.
How can we connect with you after this interview?
When you sign up for this free resource, I’ll e-mail you from my personal e-mail address, and you can hit reply to write me! I respond whenever someone writes me!
Thank you Leigh!