Writing Coach / Editor
Mentoring young journalists
Lorna V’s Teaching:
Courses and Workshops, Coaching, Ghostwriting and Mentoring Young Journalists
I can help you discover what you can write and give you advice on the opportunities available for getting published.
The wide range of experience I have gives me the knowledge you need to explore your writing. This experience includes:
- A journalism career spanning many subjects and a wide range of readerships
- Knowledge of writing about the lifestyle umbrella, including health and complementary health, food, fashion, interiors,beauty and wellbeing, relationships, careers, personal development, and travel.
- Interviewing a huge range of real people, academics, professional experts and celebrities.
- Contributing to an enormous variety of publications and readerships from mass market to high end glossy, and niche.
- Writing three personal development books for Psychologies magazine
- Creative writing for the stage and fiction
- Lecturing and tutoring for postgraduate diploma in journalism for a decade, and creating writing workshops since 2004.
Lorna’s three day lifestyle journalism course is amazing. She behaves like a real-world editor, is thought-provoking, inspiring and instills confidence in every individual’s ability. Her criticism is constructive and her advice invaluable. It was a great experience and investment into my professional career — I landed my first paid job in journalism shortly after the course. Cannot recommend enough
Attending Lorna’s course was a great way of refreshing my feature writing skills and reminding me how to ensure my work caught the eye of editors.
Lorna’s course is truly fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone. I signed up a few years ago while in my last year of university. Keen to get into women’s journalism, I felt I could benefit from some guidance. Should I go on to study a master’s degree? How can I start freelancing my work? I had never done anything of this nature before and didn’t know what to expect, but at the end I was so overwhelmed with how much I had enjoyed – and benefitted from – the whole experience. Lorna gives a lot of brilliant practical writing advice (I still have and refer to my notes and hand-outs) and I left the course feeling incredibly motivated, sure that I wanted to go on and study a master’s degree and just so inspired by Lorna herself. Lorna is a fantastic teacher and really encouraged us all to keep in touch. Shortly after the course ended, Lorna provided me with a reference for my master’s degree application (which was greatly appreciated!) and I went on to study in magazine journalism. I am now working as a features writer at a national magazine and I owe a great deal of this to Lorna and the course – again, thank you.
Lorna’s three day course is a full immersion in lifestyle journalism. Lorna is absolutely great. She pushes and challenges you to improve not just your writing but also the way you approach and think of journalism. This course was a life changing moment for me as I fully realised I wanted to be a journalist thanks to Lorna and the course.
What’s the difference between a writing course and a writing workshop?
My courses are set up as workshops so that you can explore and discuss your writing dreams, ambitions and practical needs. I taught on postgraduate and short journalism courses for a decade whilst developing my own three day lifestyle journalism workshop during this period. With courses the emphasis is on delivering information within a structured academic framework and there are exams or assessments. With workshops you as an individual and the group become the focus. Within a structured but non-academic framework we explore you: why do you want to write, what do you want to write, why are you blocked, what opportunities are there for you to write, what’s the reality, and anything else that comes up. There is no assessment or exam so you can put aside doubts and fears. I am not following a set curriculum so I can change the information I deliver to suit the group.
Is there homework?
Any homework is optional and is designed for me to help you. (I only give academic assessments if teaching on an academic course.) There are a lot of exercises within the workshops. You’ll find that you are drawn to reading and writing without being officially asked to do so, even after intensive days.
Will you assess my writing and tell me whether I’m any good?
Yes (sort of). And no. You can bring something for me to read (or give me the link to your blog or work online). Workshops are not academic so I won’t be ‘assessing’ to see whether your writing meets criteria for coursework and exams. I will give you guidelines as to what next in terms of finding your authentic writing voice, the opportunities available to write, how to develop your writing and how to get published. I won’t pronounce whether your writing is ‘any good’ or even whether it’s brilliant. My approach is to empower writers to find self-belief and the motivation to constantly strive to learn and improve their writing skills.
Does it matter that I’ve never written anything?
No. But if you’re not an avid reader that will make it harder for you. It doesn’t matter what you read, provided this isn’t limited to other people’s ramblings on your Facebook timeline.
I want to blog. Will you show me how to get masses of traffic?
I focus on helping you find the subject to blog about that’s best for you. I help bloggers figure out the next step they want to take such as gaining a traditional media profile, adding journalistic skills, turning a personal blog into an online magazine, or developing their writing with a book in mind. Traffic and revenue are not the focus, though we cover the basics.
Can I have coaching sessions with you privately as I don’t want to/can’t come on a group workshop?
You will learn more and benefit hugely from a workshop to begin with. A workshop is safe and provides you with a support network afterwards. People form friendships and connections. You will learn a lot from others, and part of the excitement is who else will be on a writing workshop. I myself learn from everyone coming to my workshops. Writing workshops are a fun way to kickstart your writing because you are with like minded people: people who like you are curious and excited about writing. Their ages, backgrounds, occupations vary, and each person is at a different life stage and writing stage. It’s a much more rewarding learning experience than working one to one. My approach is to empower you as writer and give you a sound foundation to explore other courses, workshops, or even therapy/life coaching to help you deal with psychological blocks to your writing. If you have a book you are already working on and there is something solid for us to work on. Scroll down for more details on my coaching and editing.
I’ve got a journalism degree, but I’m struggling to find a job. Will a workshop help me?
Yes. I’ll give you options based on the current market and your strengths (which I will identify).I advise based on the current jobs market.
After a particular exercise in which I asked participants to scribble the qualities they saw in their individual group class mates I discovered they included two sheets on yours truly. My motivation and satisfaction from teaching comes from guiding people to identify their inner gold so that they can go out and offer it to the world (rather than giving a text book course).
I decided to take the Writing for Women’s Media course after a difficult time, where I felt flat and needed guidance on my next step. The moment I met Lorna, I knew I’d made the right choice: she was open, warm and had that rare talent of oozing knowledge whilst still being wildly approachable. I looked forward to every day on that course, not least because of Lorna’s energy and inspiring teaching. I remember how wonderful I felt when she praised me for my achievements to date – things I’d done and written that I thought were mediocre were celebrated by her. She treated me like an equal and the confidence I gained from her class resulted in three writing jobs and a fervent passion for Life-writing.
I have since had the privilege of not only being taught by her, but also of reading her words and seeing her act. I used to think that it was only the teachers you met as children who made the most difference, but I was wrong: it’s teachers like Lorna who remind you, the adult, of who you can be. I am perpetually grateful.
Completing Lorna’s course really helped me to distill what I wanted to achieve within my career in journalism. I also made a close circle of new friends who I’ve stayed in touch with for over seven years. This created an extra support network where we encourage each other’s ambitions, and closely follow each other’s careers. I felt that Lorna’s course was a really positive influence for me, and really helped to propel me to chase after my goals, and achieve them.
Lorna has an inspired way of staying completely integral and real in her teachings. Whilst encouraging, professional, and approachable she does not sugar coat what will be required of us to become and be writers. The course is a fantastic investment of your time which like the best stories has a cleverly defined beginning, middle and an ending that will surprise you. Lorna generously shares her incredible talent and wisdom with you during the course.
If it wasn’t for LornaV, I wouldn’t have got my first short story published, and then subsequent novellas published. Her encouragement was there from the start and inspired me to keep going. Her approach to characters helped me delve into those I had created and make them more 3D as opposed to flat words on the page.
Writing Coach / Editor
As a writing coach I am something between an editor, tutor, mentor and champion for book projects.
The foundation for my coaching is my combined experience as a journalist (editing and writing), postgraduate journalism tutor, my writing workshops, creative writing (theatre and fiction), and recent transition into writing non fiction books.
I was thrilled to be part of developing the concept for the series of branded books by Psychologies magazine published by Capstone which is part of the international Wiley umbrella. I wrote three of the books, which involved extensive academic research (and ‘translating’ this research for the readership), along with interviewing leading experts in psychology, life and leadership coaching, academics, and real people for case studies. The challenge was to represent the experts and case studies in their voices, and to write the main narrative in the magazine’s voice, whilst being true to mine too.
I can help:
- Advise on whether you are ready to write a book
- Liaise with your agent/publisher to devise the best plan for your book
- Guide you to begin building your readership platform
- Formulate a concept for a book with a defined readership in mind
- Structure and outline a book
- Develop a writing voice that really speaks to readers
- Organise the process of writing into manageable stages
- Give structured feedback
- Help you implement the feedback you have received from other sources
- Provide preliminary editing
- Put together a query letter and proposal to publishers (if there is no publisher onboard)
- Advise on self publishing
- In some cases I may submit your book on your behalf
- Advise on writing for the British and international market (for overseas experts)
As well as honing my passions and skills, Lorna’s class sky-rocketed my confidence. Something you need to get yourself out there and be who you’ve always wanted to be. A year on, and I’ve not only had multiple articles published, but launched two blogging websites, started a podcast channel, and have a new book deal to write a memoir about my life.
Writing Coach and Editor FAQS
Is a writing coach like a life coach ?
I focus entirely on your book project and the writing process. If when you contact me I sense you would benefit from life coaching (perhaps because you’re unsure of a direction or are juggling a lot of issues) I may recommend sessions with a life coach. If I recommend individuals there is no financial benefit to me.
I’ve written a book and I know it’s great, Can I just get you to fix it?
No. And maybe yes. There are several processes involved in writing a book and it depends on how aware of these you are. A feedback report is a different process to line by line editing which is different to proof reading. These all require separate skills (which I have) but it’s advisable to have separate people for each process.
My grammar isn’t very good but I know my book is. Can you correct my spelling and grammar?
It’s far more cost effective to use the spelling and grammar check on your computer. My role as a writing coach is to empower you so that you become confident and competent as a writer and deliver the best book within your potential.
I am dyslexic. Does this matter?
Not at all. I can recommend ways of writing to suit you. What matters is having a story to tell.
English is not my first language, but I’m fluent having studied/worked in Britain/America. Can you check my book so the English flows?
Any editor/proof reader can do this for you. What I can do is train you to understand the difference in publishing demands. I am multilingual which gives me insight into different trends and approaches. Having been to Greek school as a child I am aware of the cultural differences from an early age in teaching essay writing and structure. I can guide you to develop your writing voice and write a book for an English-speaking market (whether you self publish, choose a small publisher in your country, or find a British publisher).
I just can’t be disciplined enough to write. Will you help me set writing goals?
Nope! I don’t believe that discipline or goals are the key to overcoming writers’ block. I don’t subscribe to the notion of writers’ block. In my teaching experience of well over a decade I have observed from students and clients that setting goals doesn’t work. My philosophy is based on identifying true motivation, developing an authentic writing voice, and establishing practical tools to write now, right now, within your current circumstances and lifestyle. The aim is for you to feel satisfied with your process of writing, driven to continue, and proud of what you create. Then you can break down the process into achievable steps rather than goals.
How will we work together?
This varies from person to person. If you have a literary agent and /or publisher my role is to guide you to deliver what you are contracted to do. We will work with a mix of written notes from me, phone/Skype chats and personal meetings. If you are starting out you may need a simple overview of your project in the form of a written report with guidelines. We will look at whether now is the right time for you to write your book, what skills you may need to learn, and we will develop both a short term and long term plan. Sometimes all people need is a kickstart and a map to their destination. If you’re immersed in a project (for example turning your PHD into a book for a wider readership, or putting your life’s passion and expertise into a book) we devise a structured framework to suit you.
The term I prefer is soul writing. If you have a compelling story to tell, but no interest in writing we can work together in a different way.
As a journalist I have the skill of writing first person accounts (and it’s one of the main areas I lecture in). I can help develop a narrative that sustains a whole book, and interview you in a way that will help you reveal events, thoughts, descriptions and emotions. We may revisit locations together, look at photos and archives together, and even listen to relevant music
My aim is to deliver your true inner voice, one that is alive, active and inspiring to your audience.
If you want me to soul write your personal or business story, we will allocate a number of weeks for me to interview you and then around two months later you will receive the first draft. We will discuss this, perhaps add additional material or decide what to subtract, and then around 4-6 weeks later you will receive a second draft. After further discussion, there will be a final draft 2-3 weeks later. This is an approximate time frame based on you responding and being available immediately, and for a draft around 40,000 words. (The time period will be adjusted according to the book length and if necessary I can advise on this). Take into account that if you have an agent and publisher on-board there will be more discussions and revisions and that this is normal to create the best book. If there is no agent/publisher, expect more revisions later. If you are self publishing I will be recommending further assessment and editing and will advise you on gathering a team to ensure a quality result.
Mentoring young journalists
When I teach on journalism courses I’m always looking to inspire new journalists along their challenging paths because their success is what inspires me to teach.
Luca Foschi reporting for Italian Press from a bunker in Afghanistan, December 2013. The first time I met him as his tutor at the London School of Journalism I handed him a scrap of paper on which I’d scribbled: Robert Fisk.
I’ve been lucky. History was flowing through the streets and at the London School of Journalism Lorna encouraged my awkward English and my philosophical mumbo-jumbos. Thus a not-so-young Italian waiter pretended to be a reporter and kept following the Arab Spring which was reverberating as small multitudes in front of the embassies. “You can reach freedom and meaning even within the limits of an article”, Lorna insisted. She knew how to deal rationally with a revolution. Above all, however, she believed in me when I could not. All came as a sprout of that gentle seed: the first reportage from Tottenham and its rebellious black community, which led to contributing regularly to the cultural page of a regional newspaper. From here there was a war-journalism course in Rome, then Lebanon, Afghanistan, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Iraq, Tunisia, followed by a national prize and a Phd in Middle Eastern studies, with a bulky thesis about resistance movements written in English, and interviews conducted in stuttering Arabic from three countries. On my days off from the Phd it was always back on the road where I belong reporting for newspapers, and seeking the tragic, wondrous endlessness of a story with Lorna’s limits.
What I remember most from the London School of Journalism was the people I met and that left me with something more valuable than academic lessons. Lorna was one of those people. I remember her energy, passion and honesty as her best qualities. She was able to keep the class engaged and her insights have always been very important when I’ve had to take some important decision in my career. From “a job in journalism is better than no job in journalism” to “well, you’re not only a journalist, you’re much more than that!” her voice has always spoken to me when I needed it. And that happens with the best teachers you meet in life.
Lorna was an inspiration – you knew she was a force to be reckoned with from the minute the walked into the room. While I didn’t go on to become a journalist, I work with stories on a daily basis, and Lorna taught me to find, craft and appreciate stories from different points of view. And, most importantly, to pick the right angle to pitch them.
To read more testimonials and in-depth case-studies and success stories from students between 2002-2012, click here.