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Red Ink Reactions

When I work with clients as the book coach, I wear several hats. I am the writer/ghostwriter/editor that helps them with the content structure, mechanics, and the flow. Your books needs to be readable and relatable. I guide through all the “writerly” issues and questions. That’s the book half of being a book coach.

The second part of being the coach is being the cheerleader, the inspirer, the motivator, the encourager. I guide through all the other issues and questions that come up during the book writing journey. These are unique to each individual and yet universal.

I’ve been writing my newspaper column since May 2001. I still remember the initial jitters about submitting my work and I have compassion for my clients. For most, this is the first time they’ve done any writing since school and for many, that was not always a pleasant experience.

The voices of parents and old teachers come back to haunt them and they feel a little apprehensive turning in their pages to me. Even though there is no grading, it’s still an evaluation of sorts in their minds.

I use the word processing editing tool called Track Changes to make my edits and comments. Whoever was the programmer for that thing needs to tweak it. My suggested changes show up on the author’s version in red. Red ink does not conjure happy thoughts.

We are ingrained from a wee age to think that getting a paper back with red ink means it was not good. That’s not true, but that’s our initial reaction.

I took a creative writing class when my boys were small. It was my “night out” and I loved it. I was ten years out of college, and it was the first time I had done any writing for anyone else’s eyes. When I received my paper back with red ink comments, my heart sank.

Then I read the comments. It was glowing praise and my instructor was advising me to write, submit, and join his writers group.

now forewarn my authors that my comments are not critical and that on my end, my changes show up in blue font. (If anyone knows how I can make the Track Changes show up on the receiver end in blue, please let me know.)

We play mind games with ourselves all the time, in everything. When it comes to writing, the rules need to be changed.

Rule 1 = It’s not hard and you can do it.

Rule 2 = You are a better writer than you think.

Rule 3 = Red does not indicate “bad.”
Red is simply a color that gets attention. Red tag clearance. Red dress. Red roses. Red is a lovely color, a color of bold and warmth. We bought a red couch and love seat for this house and they are comfortable, striking, and welcoming. I’ve read that in terms of the divine, red is a color of love, of grounding, and protection.

Think of a charming cottage house. Often the front door is painted red. It invites you in. So, dear readers, think of red ink on your papers or red font on your word doc in a new light. The red does not signal anything is wrong. It’s simply a gesture wanting to be noticed, so that your writing can be grounded in love.

As a book coach, I may also be viewed as the protector. I am on your side, wanting you to birth your book and share your message. That takes guts on your part. It requires you to be bold. So don’t let visions of red intimidate you; let them empower you.

Your high school English teacher and her red pen were wanting to make you better. That’s my goal too. So let’s embrace any color and embrace the mission. Keep writing, keep improving, keep sharing your heart with the world. In any ink color, that’s a good thing.

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