Women Branching Out: Nanci Panuccio

Today, I’m very excited to feature an interview with Nanci Panuccio of the Emerging Writers Studio. Nanci is a writer and creative writing coach. On the Emerging Writers Studio website she shares tips to help aspiring writers of short stories, personal essays, novels, and memoir improve their works and move toward publication.

In this interview Nanci talks about:

    • her new creative writing program Writer Unleashed
    • her writing journey and background
    • her experience as a creative writing coach

If you’re an entrepreneur who has been circling around creative writing and you want to stop circling and jump in this year, Nanci shares her best advice for taking that first step.

Enjoy the video or read the transcript below.

Leave a comment for Nanci below and please share the interview!

Nanci is a writer, creative writing coach, and founder of the Emerging Writers Studio. She mentors aspiring writers as they create, revise, and seek publication for their stories, novels, and memoirs. Her new program, Writer Unleashed unleashes Tuesday, January 31st, and is designed to help writers liberate their voice, dissolve creative roadblocks, and write with more joy, freedom, and power. You can follow Nanci on Twitter: @nancipanuccio and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EmergingWriters

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Transcript

Christie:

Hi! It’s Christie Halmick and I’m very happy to have Nanci Panuccio with me today. Hi, Nanci!

Nanci:

Hi!

Christie:

Nanci is from the Emerging Writers Studio. I will have a link to her website, her Twitter handle and her Facebook page below our video. I wanted to tell you a little bit about Nanci. Nanci is a writer, creative writing coach, and founder of the Emerging Writers Studio. She mentors aspiring writers as they create, revise, and seek publication for their stories, novels, and memoirs.

Today we are going to talk about Nanci’s online class Writer Unleashed which starts on Tuesday, January 31st. You can actually, if you go to her website on the links that we’ll have below, go ahead and sign up for that and be ready to start on January 31st. So, I’m going to let Nanci talk a little bit about who Writer Unleashed is for, what you can expect if you go through the class, and what kind of writing it covers, that sort of thing stuff. So, go ahead Nanci.

Nanci:

First of all, thank you so much for inviting me here.

Christie:

You are welcome.

Nanci:

Writer Unleashed is a four-week audio program. It has four modules starting on January 31st. Each week a different module will be released. Each module has about four sections, they are each about 15 minutes in length. Each module also includes a pdf transcript and lots of writing exercises.

The purpose of the program really is to help writers,get out of their own way, to dismantle some of the misconceptions they may have about writing and about the creative process, about their own potential, and the things that are really getting in the way of them creating their best work.

The way that this came about is, whenever I ask writers what they are struggling most with I’m always surprised by the answer I get. I expect something like “I’m struggling with writing dialogue” or “creating character” those kind of things “structuring my story, my novel” and so on.

But the common theme tends to be not that at all, not about technique, but about problems with motivation, staying inspired, keeping the creative juice going long enough to sustain a project from beginning to end. Because, you know, it really does take a lot of time to write a story or novel.

They also struggle with time. Time is a huge obstacle for many. Managing their energies and trying to integrate writing into a very busy lifestyle. Many of the writers that I work with started writing relatively late in their lives. They have full careers. They may have families. So this is a response to those obstacles that they face.

Christie:

Cool. So it starts January 31st.

Nanci:

Yes, it starts January 31st. Do you want me to go through the modules and explain?

Christie:

Yeah, let’s go through those a little bit.

Nanci:

The first module is going to talk about getting into the zone. How you get into the writers zone and how you reach a state of really high engagement with the work. Because, we really need to reach a sort of dream state when we write. But We also have to be awake at the same time. So we need to fully engage with the work and a lot of writers struggle with that. So this module is going to talk about how to anchor ourselves in our writing so we that can reach that flow state quickly and really stay focused. Then we’ll talk about how to create the conditions to nourish that flow state and keep it going. Because a lot of times the intention is there, but our environment doesn’t necessarily support it. There might be some rungs that are missing on the ladder. So we need an environment that supports that. We need to do away with distractions and interruptions and we really have to control the distractions and interruptions so that they don’t control us. So that module is going to discuss that.

The second module is going to focus on voice, the writer’s voice, the author’s voice, or the voice of the story or book itself. We are going to attempt to define what makes one voice different from another and we will also talk about some of the obstacles that get in the way of really … the way we self-censor ourselves with common misconceptions and doubts about the writing process. Sometimes we think that it’s supposed to be easy, it should be easier than this. The truth is, it’s not supposed to be easy, it isn’t easy. To me, writing is an art, just like any other art. It’s like learning to play the piano, or learning to dance well, it’s a rigorous practice. It requires a lot of tenacity. It requires a balance of persistence and patience. In that class we will talk about some of those mindset shifts we really need to make to start getting out of our own way.

In the third module we are going to talk about breaking the rules. Some of the mantras that we hear, a lot of the time, the most common writing mantras out there like: “write what you know” “show don’t tell” “your main character must undergo a change.” It’s not that these rule are wrong, or that they are bad, it’s just that they don’t go deep enough. What I want to do in this class is unwrap them a little more and just … Like for instance, “write what you know” is deceptively complicated. Of course we are going to write what we know, we have no choice that’s who we are. But at some point we have to write from what we know towards what we don’t know. In that not knowing we create space in the work and we give it some air and let it breathe. So that class will talk about some of those mantras. We are just going to explore them a little more deeply because I think that sometimes writers take those kind of rules at face value and it can be a little misleading and it can actually straight jacket your work and strangle their voice. So that’s module three.

Module four is going to talk about what we already know about writing. Because we take things for granted and I think that our basic human impulses require us to tell stories in our heads all the time. In a way we are always writing in our head, where these stories are running through our mind all the time. We create characters out of people we know, we fill in the missing pieces. We have imaginary dialogue with people that aren’t even in the room, you know. So all these things are happening all the time. I think that literature really is a written version of our natural human impulses.

So that’s the content of the course.

Christie:

Tell me a little bit about what you are working on in your writing practice right now.

Nanci:

In my writing practice right now. Well, for one thing it’s sales pages and blog content that’s part of it. But I am also working on a collection of short stories. So that I’ve been working on for a pretty long time. So, yeah.

Christie:

Tell us a little bit about your writing background, beyond what you are doing right now.

Nanci:

Beyond what I’m doing right now. Well, I started pretty young. I found pretty early on that writing was something that I could spend hours and hours doing effortlessly. I could just lose myself just in that imaginary process and so as a child I learned pretty early on that it was something that I just loved to do. Then as I grew older, of course, I got detoured from that because I didn’t … I bought into this idea that it just wasn’t a viable pursuit it was a hobby. I kind of danced around the desire for a while. I worked in advertising. I worked in publishing at a magazine and then I had a freelance writing business of my own for many years. But it wasn’t until I was about 39 that I actually said OK this is it. I sold my apartment, I moved to the Catskills and I pursued an MFA in creative writing. That allowed me the time to spend two years just writing full time fiction. Whereas before I had been writing full time for clients. So I had the routine and the practice down so I was able to do that.

But throughout my journey as a writer my the relationship to my writing was always changing. I know what it is like to have this feeling of great flow and focus. I know what it’s like to feel like you are just really on fire. I would get up at 2 a.m. in the morning and just write down a story because it just came to me. I also know it is like to feel like a dried up speck of dust with no soul and nothing to say. So I understand the struggles. I’ve gone through the whole gamut of experiences. I’ve had a lavish amount of time to write.

Then, once I figured all that out, I had a child and then everything was turned upside down.

So I had to relearn how to fit my writing practice into a very kind of chaotic household. I had to really think about how to be more productive within the parameters of having a family. Which was a huge challenge for me.

I think that’s where a lot of writers find themselves, in this space where they have so much going on. There are so many demands competing for their desire to write. How do you fit all of it in and honor your desire to write.

These are the questions I’ve been struggling with for the past five years, really. I’ve realized that it’s just different for everybody. For me what I finally had to do to get back to that place where I was when I was single …. and I had total solitude to write in wonderful space and just solitude and silence which I really crave as a writer … I had to get up really early in my house and that was the only way. And I found that if I gave myself those couple hours, or even one hour, the rest of my day felt so much easier. I wasn’t as cranky or irritable. I was just more present in the other areas of my life.

Christie:

I love that your experience is what has kind of born this class … this journey that you’ve been on with your writing life. You were talking about when you had your child and the changes and we talked a little bit about this earlier before we started the recording about entrepreneurs.

I wanted to ask you about those people who are in that spot of having their business and having that secret desire to write … maybe it’s not secret, but maybe they just have been dancing around it, like you were for a while. What’s a step, one step or two steps that they can start to take to do this?

Nanci:

Well, if I had to give one piece of advice I would say to find other writers to connect with. The best way I found was to join a workshop.

I think it is really useful to do that number one because it gives you the positive pressure to get something done and to actually make time. Because if you don’t have the deadlines you are probably going to just keep pushing it aside. Because everything else is more powerful really. Because there are just so many other things that we have to do as entrepreneurs including writing. There’s a lot of writing involved. So to make space for the creative writing, I think being in a live workshop especially and having a community of writers is really inspiring. It also turns you on to different writers, different authors, different books that become really great comrades in your journey as a writer and as you evolve technically as a writer and hone your skill. It also keeps you really sharp because you are giving feedback on other people’s work and you are required to submit something. When you have that kind of positive pressure on you you are going to really hone in and focus and really work on those sentence by sentence and word by word. It just brings you up to a different level. That’s what I would say, join a workshop or a peer group of some sort and make it a consistent practice.

Christie:

If somebody took your Writer Unleashed class and then wanted to work with you more you do also offer creative writing coaching. Can you talk a little bit about how that works.

Nanci:

Sure. Often writers come to me … they have been writing for a long time. They may have a full blown novel or they may have chapters of memoir in pieces or fragments, or they may have short stories or they may have a whole body of work. But what happens at some point in the writing process is they reach an impasse and they know that there’s a gap between their intention and their vision for the piece and with what’s on the page at the moment. So I help them fill that gap. I work with them on the manuscript over the course of weeks, months, maybe years sometimes. We just work on different element at a time so maybe we’ll work on characterization, or we’ll work on structure or we’ll work on the beginning.

But basically what I do a lot of the time is help them figure out why the piece matters to them. Why the story matters.

What is it about the piece that’s important to them? Because that’s really a key to what the center of the piece is and it makes it much easier then to structure the piece.

There’s always an essential question that every story asks, it’s not explicit, necessarily, but there always some question that the character or the author is trying to figure out.

It’s not that they need the answer, it’s the exploration that matters.

Once they get at that, which is really not easy to do. It sounds easy but it’s really not easy. Then everything kind of falls into place a little more and they can start to see patterns emerge in the piece. So it’s basically a way of getting the manuscript closer and closer to its highest version of itself and ultimately bringing it closer to publication. Which is what most writers really aspire to ultimately.

Christie:

Yeah. So I wanted to ask you what it feels like whenever somebody you’ve coached gets something published and they send you an email.

Nanci:

Oh! Oh! I love that! I have one writer who I work with in Israel and I’ve been working with her for a few years now and she’s just won an award in a memoir magazine. She’s just phenomenal and she’s getting published so much and every time she gets published she sends me an email. And wow! It’s… but I really also just love to see the progress my students make it’s just so amazing. They have such innate brilliance, it’s not always apparent on the first draft, it’s there but I just help them bring that out. They are all brilliant in their own way. It’s incredible. I love them! They are amazing.

Christie:

And so do you have a writing coach?

Nanci:

I have worked with writing coaches. I mean certainly in the MFA program I worked one-on-one with a mentor which really was for me a real turning point in my writing. Just having that close attention to the rythms of the way I write and really understanding my work. So working with a mentor for a long period of time I found extremely helpful. These days not so much. I do occasionally work with an editor to help me hone something because I tend to revise for a very long time before I give it up. I want to take it as far as I can and I reach a point where I just don’t know what to do with it anymore, I’ve taken it as far as I can I’ll have someone read it and give me the feedback and then I can just take it further. So yeah, yeah.

Christie:

Well, do you have anything else you’d like to add about Writer Unleashed or anything else?

Nanci:

Let me see. Well, Writer Unleashed again, it starts January 31st and it includes audio classes. There will be a component where the writers can join in a forum they can share their writing assignments, if they chose to, it’s optional. But they can also just ask questions about anything related to their writing or writing in general or their process, whatever. So it’s a space for them to just have an open dialogue about writing. So that will be a component of the class as well.

Christie:

Thank you so much for such an interesting conversation, it’s a great topic. I think there are lots of writers who could benefit from spending some time on their craft with your help. I will have Nanci’s website address and the link to Writer Unleashed the information on that so you guys can go check out all the different modules and go ahead and sign up for the class if you are interested in getting some fiction, memoir, and short story type work completed. Get it done this year. Thank you very much Nanci!

Nanci:

Thank you Christie.

Christie:

Thanks!

Nanci is a writer, creative writing coach, and founder of the Emerging Writers Studio. She mentors aspiring writers as they create, revise, and seek publication for their stories, novels, and memoirs. Her new program, Writer Unleashed unleashes Tuesday, January 31st, and is designed to help writers liberate their voice, dissolve creative roadblocks, and write with more joy, freedom, and power. You can follow Nanci on Twitter: @nancipanuccio and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EmergingWriters

Leave a comment for Nanci below and please share the interview!

16 Responses to Women Branching Out: Nanci Panuccio

  1. Tina Pruitt | The Gr January 11, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Thanks for sharing the work of another awesome entrepreneur! I look forward to hearing more from Nanci in the future! Great work she is doing!
    Thanks again,
    Tina

    • christie January 12, 2012 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks for stopping by Tina. Love the feedback you’ve given on format. xox – Christie

  2. Pat Novak January 11, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Just a great interview Christie! I love reading Nanci Panuccio’s posts, so it’s great to see the both of you in the video. Great information here.
    I will break it down to the two main points for me. One, is being a writer is a profession where you spend a lot of time alone with your writing. Connecting with other writers is so important and becomes a lifeline to keep you inspired and motivated. Second, I love how Nancy talks about keeping a writer focused on why, what they are writing, matters to them. You can lose that initial spark of inspiration as you get into the daily “work” of writing, Thanks for the great conversation.

    • Nanci Panuccio January 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Thank you, Pat!

      And you nailed it; writing is a solitary activity, but we can’t write in a vacuum. Connecting with other writers, sharing our works in progress, as well as our particular joys, frustrations, and breakthroughs along the way – is vital to the life of our work. This certainly has been true for me.

      I love what you say about touching base with why we write in the first place, or why the story matters to us; it not only gives our work more clarity, but keeps the creative fuel burning. Great insight.

    • christie January 12, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks for such a great comment Pat. I was thinking about your blog post about listening to your heart. For me writing in the flow is like that, it just happens, feels right and my head doesn’t get in in the way.

  3. Nanci Panuccio January 11, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Thank you, Tina! Speaking of awesome, I’m a huge fan of your work. Your Royal Treatment Green Juice has sustained many a long and arduous writing session! Cheers!

  4. Maddy Vertenten January 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Writing is a rigorous practice yes, thank you for that! I love to write and it’s so easy to distract myself from getting anything done in that particular creative space. And I don’t allow it enough rigor. If I value my creative voice as much as the health of my body (as I am beginning to do) then I will commit to a rigorous practice! Perfect timing for me – there is a book that has been eeking out of me for a few months now and just this week I’ve been writing daily – I see more coming!

    • Nanci Panuccio January 11, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      Maddy, I’m thrilled to hear about your book, and even more thrilled to hear that you’re writing every day! As for distractions, I’m one of those writers who literally must keep my Internet OFF. Otherwise, whenever I hit a rough spot in my work, I stare at my inbox and refresh my email over and over. Just because I can.

    • christie January 12, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Maddy – So glad this post came to you in the early stages of your book. Keep on writing!

  5. Jennifer Peek January 11, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Great interview! It is so true that the energy of the house changes over time – first with young children then over time as they grow. Early morning is also my favorite time, although I often find myself working out instead of writing. Yet, I miss the writing to set the tone for the day. It’s great that Nanci’s course addresses those very real issues as well as the writing itself.

    • Nanci Panuccio January 11, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Thank you, Jennifer! And oh, how I miss my early morning workouts! I’m hoping for the day when I can go for a brisk walk or do yoga first thing, and then sit down to write. My ideal scenario, for sure.

    • christie January 12, 2012 at 9:58 am #

      Thank you for commenting Jennifer. I was thinking about how when my daughters were very little that I thought I’d completely lost my ability to write or do anything creative. I needed a creative outlet so much but wasn’t ready for a job commitment so I started volunteering my writing and design skills to non-profits. Now that they are older I’m happy to say they have very active creative lives. I think it is in part because I continued to be creative, throughout their infancy and toddler days, even though it was on a much smaller scale than I was used to.

  6. Heather Lentz January 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    I really enjoyed this interview Christie! Nanci has so much passion for writing, it is very inspiring. I am not a writer, but I am a graphic designer and creative person, so I love to see how the process is similar. My daughter is an aspiring writer and I would love for her to go through this class. Thanks for letting me know that Nanci was out there offering support for people like my daughter.

    • christie January 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

      Thank you for coming back by to comment Heather! Yes the process is very similar. I love projects that involve writing and design. Best of luck to your daughter in her writing journey.

  7. Carl Forssell December 23, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Dear Nanci,
    I’m so impressed with your marvelous mind, your understanding of the human psyche, your in-depth analysis of, “Writing to Draw Readers in Emotionally!” I believe imagination rules the world, and your imagination makes you one of the rulers in your fantastic writings, and insights.

    Born and raised in Alaska, a former bush pilot, published in 2007: “The Amazing Adventures of Big Nick In Alaska”. I’m not pleased with that writing, and hope to do better. I’m writing a sequel to “Big Nick,” and have completed 12 chapters. They carry my novel under my name on Amazon.com

    I would like to contact you later for your analysis.
    Sincerely, and all the best to you!

    Carl Francis Forssell

    • Nanci Panuccio January 30, 2015 at 6:01 am #

      Hi there, Carl. Thank you! And congratulations on your novel. You can contact me anytime through my website. Let me know how the sequel is going, okay? Cheers!

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