Community Member Q&A: The Writing Consultancy

“I have gained so much knowledge and wonderful friends volunteering at Writer’s League events, watching authors grow at the annual A&E Conference and witnessing so much talent make its way into print.”

– Britta Jensen

The Writing Consultancy offers mentoring and coaching for stories in development, a range of editing services for fiction and non-fiction, and literacy tutoring.

In addition to supporting and promoting authors, The Writing Consultancy is a proud Community Member of the Writers’ League of Texas. Read the interview below with founder Britta Jensen to find out more.

Scribe: Tell us a little about the Writing Consultancy and the work that you do.

Britta Jensen: I started the Writing Consultancy to meet the needs of writers who might fit into one of the following three groups: authors seeking to get published, writers pursuing indie publishing, or aspiring writers wanting to improve their narrative skills and voice. For fifteen years I taught secondary creative writing and literature. In the evenings, I worked with authors I met at writing conferences on developing their manuscripts. Years of working with both these populations spurred my desire to blend my favourite parts of teaching and editing to create a holistic approach I felt was missing from a lot of editing services. Some writers want a more hands-on approach: a mix of editing and writing instruction. Others want incisive, honest feedback on their manuscript to get it published, while others need mentoring: a mix of writing instruction and project planning to guide them through finishing a book that otherwise may linger on their hard drive for years without finishing the book. I wanted all three of these services to be available to writers, but also at a price that would allow as many authors as possible to achieve their publishing dreams.

Scribe: What is the biggest takeaway from working as a writing consultant, editor, and mentor? 

BJ: One of the biggest advantages of working with me is that there isn’t any middle man. The Writing Consultancy is just me, Britta Jensen. You get a lot of one-on-one attention as a result. I have a broad base of knowledge: characterization, plot, dialogue, thematic issues, story structure, and a huge treasure trove of exercises and techniques. It helps that I started out as a playwright/poet and had many years of Off-Broadway theater experience to solidify my knowledge of story structure (while reading novels by flashlight backstage). I make it my goal to first identify what is working well with an author’s developing voice and story and then focus on ways to restructure their narrative to bring clarity to the reader. Clients appreciate my honesty and high level of detail in my feedback. My primary goal is for my clients to go further than publishing a book: I want them to be the writer they envision becoming.

As a mentor, a lot of clients appreciate the accountability part of our relationship: I design deadlines that will work with their vision for their book, we create benchmarks for achieving those goals (often crafted around their job and life circumstances), and I check-in with them regularly before and after we meet. I love working for a longer stretch of time (usually for an entire book) with an author and watching them progress. As result, I feel like an advocate of their work: the relationship doesn’t end with the project’s conclusion.

As an editor and writing consultant, clients like that I sit down with them and answer all of their questions. Built into the cost of editing is a block of time for meeting one on one (either in person or via phone/video conference). Since half of my clients don’t live in the Austin metro area, the outbrief helps a lot with outlining next steps and clarifying anything that may have come up when they reviewed my edits. All editing clients receive a letter with their developmental or copy edit that summarizes my feedback to help them parse through all the notes in the margins and tracked changes (which can be really overwhelming without that editing letter).

To make sure that clients feel I’m a good fit for their project I always offer a thirty-minute free consultation via phone and offer a sample critique.

Scribe: As a writer yourself, what is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring writers?

BJ: Develop a vision for your work. This might sound self-evident, but there can be a lot of conflicting advice about the writing process floating around if you aren’t thoughtful about where you want your writing journey to go. If you elucidate your vision, your individual goals (I’d love to publish ten stories by age fifty), and what benchmarks will help you feel successful, when the hard knocks come you still have a navigable pathway before you. Critique partners, professional editors and mentors can also help you refine your vision as you learn more about your process as a writer, which will be unique to your circumstances and skills.

Scribe: What’s important to you about supporting the Writers’ League of Texas and being a community member?

BJ: The best thing about moving to Texas was definitely the Writer’s League. I wish I had known about it while I was still living overseas because you have so many great online classes! I have gained so much knowledge and wonderful friends volunteering at Writer’s League events, watching authors grow at the annual A&E Conference and watching so much talent make its way into print. Because my life has always surrounded literacy, it is wonderful to feel like I’m “with my people” and can support fellow writers, get new ideas for my books and learn from seasoned veterans. Writer’s League truly fosters a growth mindset in authors and that is essential in our careers! One worry I had when I moved to Texas, after twenty-two years living overseas, was that I wouldn’t be able to connect with people stateside. Writer’s League has such a diverse group of people to learn from. I’m so honored to be a member of this organization!

Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down? 

BJ: Two Texas author’s books I’m enjoying at present are: Nicky Drayden’s Escaping Exodus and Tears of a Trufflepig by Fernando A. Flores. I’m in awe of both these authors magnificent minds and wonderful prose.

Scribe: Anything else you’d like to share? 

BJ: A lot of writers ask me how I find time to write my books. My biggest discovery, when I transitioned from a playwright to novelist, was creating consistency of practice. I’m the daughter of a professional musician. As a kid I had an allotted time when I could practice voice and piano every day. And if I didn’t practice six days a week, I was in big trouble. When I took that same approach to my writing, it made it a lot easier to draft and edit. Consistent practice, even if it’s twenty minutes, means I don’t waste time forgetting what I edited, or having to spend hours reconnecting with a manuscript via my notes in Scrivener. (This has all been while working full-time). Early mornings tend to be golden. No one is awake to bother me and I’m free to get lost in my work. I’ve written five books as a result of seeking the best time to work, staying consistent in writing/editing my work 4-5 days a week and constantly looking at ways in which to be more efficient with my time. As a result, I feel like I have an aspect of my writing career that is within my control.

Thanks, Britta!

Click here to visit The Writing Consultancy’s website.

Are you a business or organization interested in getting involved?

Community Membership is a great way to connect with the Writers’ League’s membership base and share news and information about writing-related services and events. For more information on Community Membership click here or call our office at (512) 499-8914.

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