Belinda Nicoll is a published author and a personal coach who brings an MFA in Creative Writing and NLP life-coaching certifications to the creative writing process.
A creativity coach works with artists, musicians, writers, inventors, and even business executives. Some coaches share the same art form or profession as their clients, and others only focus on the creative process rather than a specific subject matter.
I help writers identify the thought processes, internal conflicts, limiting beliefs, language patterns, and habitual behavior that may be holding them back from doing their best work. Together, we set well-formed goals to achieve both the creative and professional outcomes they want. They learn new ways to:
Enhance their current creative abilities.
Transfer creative ability from one context to another.
Focus bursts of creativity in a more organized and systematic way.
Develop conscious access to internal resources that support their performance.
Use the insights into their own challenges, failures, and accomplishments to imagine the thought processes, internal conflicts, limiting beliefs, language patterns, and habitual behavior of their fictional characters.
Utilize the three stages of the creative cycle more effectively.
I work with writers bringing my MFA in Creative Writing and training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to the creative process. My unique book coaching program includes an optional creativity coaching service that can be tailored around specific needs.
A book coach guides writers of fiction and nonfiction through the creative process and provides feedback on their writing from start to finish. I help writers get inspired and maintain their motivation so they can plan and write the best book possible. Together, we:
set the goals of the writing project
define the book’s genre
describe the story’s premise
develop the story’s structure (chapters, transitions, flow)
map out the plot (introduction, inciting incident, rising action, arc, resolution)
plan the protagonist’s journey ( goals, obstacles, conflicts, transformation)
plot character transformation in accordance with the story’s arc
research factual/historical aspects of the story
explore the story's main themes and concepts
identify the book’s target audiences
spin storylines into promotional messages
use my unique creative writing approach to refine their craft
Some coaches and writers rely on personality theories to create fictional characters with ‘typical’ predispositions. I believe in an organic growth of character instead of stereotyping traits for the sake of validating archetypes. In teaching and critiquing creative writing, especially regarding character development and transformation, I know of no better framework for examining personal growth within the dynamics of social change than Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)—see "What is NLP?" below.
It has been argued that “the only constant is change.” Although it implies survival and growth, change can also be the root of conflict, chaos, and destruction. Better insight into the dynamics of change can help writers map out strategic character arcs to ensure that transformation comes about in a credible way.
NLP's main premise focuses on the ‘neuro-logical’ levels on which change takes place: environment (where?), behavior (what?), capabilities (how?), values and beliefs (why?), identity (who?), spiritual (what for?). This model can be a handy guide to help writers bring fine distinctions to the classic elements of literature: character, plot, setting, point of view, theme, and style.
NLP practitioners are trained to calibrate verbal and body language (head movements, facial expressions, hand gesture, and posture), eye-accessing cues, breathing rate, and skin tone to gain insight into the mental strategies that support their clients' challenges, accomplishments, and failures.
I teach writers to develop nuanced sensory observation by focusing on the mental strategies that give rise to their own thought-, emotion-, conflict-, language-, and behavior patterns. This new skill can help them future-pace a character’s possible responses to events, thus ensuring credible turning points throughout the story.
My approach is exciting—it’s like role-play, only different—writers get to see, hear, feel, and imagine what's possible for their characters and take it from there, as opposed to being limited by the do’s and don’ts of staid personality theories.
Go to my Writing Tips and Blog for more on nuanced techniques that can help to enhance character, plot, setting, point of view, theme, and style.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) was developed as a method for transforming human behavior. It is based on an understanding of the dynamic interaction between neurology, language, and behavior. According to the model, the way we experience our reality (life) is shaped by the way we take in information through our senses (neurology), translate it into language (linguistic), and make mental patterns (programming) that influence our behavior.
The discipline is based on a set of presuppositions that makes it possible to understand and describe human behavior, communication, and the process of change in a detailed way. NLP originated as a set of modeling techniques. The verbal and behavioral patterns of human excellence were studied with the aim of making these unique abilities transferable to people wanting to model their outcomes on those of celebrated achievers.
NLP provides tools for developing resourceful states and empowering beliefs to help you reframe the thought and behavior patterns that are keeping you stuck. By adopting more effective mental frames of reference, you improve your ability to support your transformation and attain your goals, whether they are to overcome an emotional difficulty, recover from ill health, or achieve excellence.
Life coaching is a dynamic new service that follows in the footsteps of sports coaching. Professional life coaches are motivational experts who offer their skills to anybody wishing to achieve specific goals or create positive change in their life. Coaching is about helping people find inspiration and take action to reach their full potential.
The coaching philosophy assumes that people already have all the resources to go forward and manifest what they really want. The coach assists the process by raising the client’s level of awareness and responsibility, guiding the development and execution of an action plan, and providing the client with the necessary structure, feedback and support to ensure progress. In an ongoing, synergistic relationship, the coach helps the client increase his or her resources, evaluate evidence of success and strategize future action steps.
Life coaches are not therapists. They do not define how things should be, nor do they judge the outcome. They simply create a safe and structured environment in which the client can explore his or her habits, values, beliefs, resources, possibilities, options and strategies.