with Coach Heidi Reimer
Writing makes you feel
at the centre of your purpose.
You have an idea for a novel. More than an idea: scenes mapped out, characters begging to live, the first chapter written and rewritten.
You know in your deepest place of knowing that you’re meant to write this novel. You long to bring it into being with less resistance, less struggle, less immobilized staring at the blank page.
How can something you’re meant for be so consistently daunting...even defeating?
If there were a way to tap into your creativity reliably and joyfully — without overwhelm or your inner critic thwarting you before you’ve even begun — would you finally feel ready to write the novel you long to write?
I had no idea how to write my first novel. It took me seven years to finish it, because I was writing without a plan. I was writing it alone: I had no guide, no structure, no container to hold my exploration.
Writing a book doesn’t have to be so confusing and difficult. You don’t have to do it without support.
I’ve been writing with Heidi Reimer for the past three years, and I’ve learned so much from her approach. She’s a brilliant writer and editor who has been honing her craft for decades. She has a deeply feminist philosophy, and knows how to optimize our natural creative cycles, so our writing feels nourishing and productive.
Working directly with Heidi, I wrote the first draft of my new novel in three months.
Heidi understands process. More importantly, she trusts it. In my moments of doubt and confusion, her calm wisdom helped me keep the faith and finish my book. She helped untangle all of my writing knots — both in my craft and my ego.
I’m so pleased to introduce her to you!
It gives you the tools and the accountability to create a quick, rough first draft in just three months — but we pursue that goal with a focus on process, not product.
You’ll learn how to step into the flow of creativity and partner reliably with creative source in a way that nourishes your spirit and fills the pages in your notebook.
The most thrilling outcome is a meaningful, fruitful relationship with the creative process, with your emerging novel, and with the mystical place it all comes from.
But the other most thrilling outcome is finishing our three months together with a completed first draft.
Iwas eight years old when I knew I was a writer. I wrote stories freely until it came time to turn the lifelong dream into a grown-up reality…and the greatest pleasure of my life became hard.
Over the decades that followed, I approached writing with…
An ego-based, left-brain yang energy: trying to follow the rules and get it “right,” chastising myself when I didn’t or couldn’t deliver.
This approach was all about the end product. I frequently felt blocked; I felt like a failure; I eventually concluded I didn’t have what it took.
An instinct-based, right-brain yin energy: following my intuition on the page, letting the words, characters, and stories surprise me.
This approach was all about process. It released me from perfectionism and self-criticism and uncovered a more natural voice. But I ended up with beautiful prose in which nothing happened and a fear of sitting down to a blank page because my work felt directionless and unfocused.
And finally, an approach that is a balance of the two: freedom within a gentle framework.
This approach has enabled me to develop a writing practice that is generative, nurturing, and sustainable. It’s all about process…but it results in completed and viable stories, essays, and novels.
My eight-year-old self would not have believed how long it would take, but my debut novel will be published by Penguin Random House in Spring 2024, with the second slated for publication the following year and a third nearly completed.
That’s why I’m passionate about showing up for other writers, especially those who haven’t rocketed to success on the 25-under-25 lists, who’ve tried and stumbled and doubted but still know this is their purpose.
Because the hard part of writing a novel is not the craft of writing a novel.
Structure, plotting, dialogue, narrative arc, character development, tight and clear sentences: these can be studied and improved.
It’s making your practice your priority even though you have a job, a family, an overwhelming to-do list, and plenty of cultural or internal messaging that says focusing on creativity is frivolous, transgressive, or unjustifiable.
It’s facing the blank page or the flashing cursor, sitting with the discomfort of the unknown, opening the portal to your own subconscious and to what might be buried there.
It’s showing up to this uncertainty even when you feel uninspired, unoriginal, bored, resistant, or afraid.
This is the stuff that makes “someday” feel like a much better time than “today” to begin writing a novel.
It’s why you might get 20,000 words in and decide this idea isn’t viable after all, or you need to do more research, or it’ll go better if you wait for your sabbatical/ three weeks alone at the cottage/ retirement/ your kids to grow up.
It’s painful to not do what we most long to do, and it's painful to show up to what we love and experience it as suffering.
1 A writing practice that’s joyfully non-negotiable
You show up for your writing, and your writing shows up for you, and that is now a bedrock fact of who you are and how you move through your days.
2 A healthy relationship with your daily practice
Supportive instead of self-flagellating, nurturing instead of draining, expansive, energizing, purposeful, and productive.
3 New tools and practices
Learn how to get out of your own way, escape the critic on your shoulder, and step reliably into the flow of creativity.
4 A complete first draft of your novel
It will be rough, it will be raw, it will be juicy and full of surprises. It will definitely not be publication-ready. But it will be the basis of your novel, sparkling and real and existing in the world, ready to be turned into your second draft.
Enrol by December 18 to receive a free 45-minute 1:1 coaching session with Heidi, which you can use anytime in the process for extra individualized support around creative blocks or story challenges. Calls need to be completed by April 19.
“At the very beginning you said it would be one of your jobs to hold the container safe for my writing and my story. And you 100 percent did that for me. I still remember the sense of relief I felt when I first heard you say those words. It was only then that I realized I even wanted someone else to do that for me. Or that it was what I needed because I had been protecting my writer self and my writing time for so long on my own.
During my time with you, I felt the joy of surprise and discovery about my story and characters and so many moments of synchronicity. And your support during some really rough moments helped me to keep going and get to the end. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment at the end. Finishing the rough draft was my Boston Marathon or Mt. Everest climb. No one can take it away from me. I did this. I feel I know myself better.”
— Nancy Sulaiman
“It felt almost tailor made for me. I feel lucky to have found it when I did. [Before we began working together,] I...
was overthinking first draft and determined to get it “right”
was stuck polishing the opening scenes line by line.
Too much of 1) and 2) had choked off any creativity I might have brought to the initial idea.
To have the full draft [now], with all its flaws and potential and weirdness and insanity, is priceless. The daily practice, with no backtracking allowed, was empowering in a way that’s hard to describe. Even on the days that went badly, it felt like another small step taken. That means everything, at the day to day level. [So does] the reminder that you can and should trust your lunatic, embarrassing, perverted imagination. It’s what got most of us into this racket in the first place. It’s about the only thing that makes writing fun. But we so often stray from that trust.”
— Jamie Fitzpatrick
Arobust but gentle curriculum of day-by-day guidance to take you from idea to completed draft, beautifully delivered inside our own protected online space (with the option to print weekly PDFs so you can write offline). This program provides the secure structure that supports creative freedom as you plan and write your novel, along with direction and inspiration for each day’s writing practice so you’re never facing the blank page with no idea what to fill it with.
The core of the program is 12 weeks of exploration and writing, with Week 0 reserved for block-releasing and intention-setting, and Week 13 showing you how to untangle the magic you’ve created once the draft is done.
Our weekly group calls combine teaching, discussion, accountability check-ins, guided visualization to help you drop in deeper, writing exercises to help fill your idea bank for the week’s writing, and individualized coaching on whatever is coming up for you and your fellow writers that week. Sometimes you might need help brainstorming or drilling down into your character motivations or narrative drive. Sometimes you might need support to set boundaries or shift blocks. These calls help you stay on track, stay connected to your purpose and your goal, and give you a safe place to bring questions, frustrations, and joy.
Yoga and meditation instructor (and, incidentally, Heidi’s sister) Leah Fae will join our sessions for trauma-informed space-holding, meditation, and breathwork.
We meet on Zoom for a total of 14 group sessions: our 2-hour Creative Remaking session before we begin work, 12 weekly calls as we work through the program together, and a final bonus call to get clear on next steps once you’ve written your draft.
We also have a private online space just for our group, so you can share questions, struggles, and wins between calls.
Before we do anything else together in Novel Alchemy, I help you find clarity on what’s been keeping you from the completed manuscript and the nourishing, productive writing practice you long for. Fears, judgments, long-ago-seeded beliefs: we invite them into the light and examine them. And once you have clarity on them, you can begin to release them and install new beliefs and helpful self-talk in their place. We do this through a guided written process called Creative Remaking, which we’ll complete together in our first session.
From there, you’ll create a power statement to set the course for our time together, for your writing practice, and for the novel you’re writing.
We start gently. You won’t be drafting yet but will use this time to build up the treasure trove of material that you’ll draw from when it comes time to start writing. You’ll discover, clarify, and gradually make firmer decisions about the story you want to tell, its people, structure, throughlines, and preoccupations.
In Week 1, you’ll freewrite responses to deep-mining questions that unlock your characters, what they yearn for, what happens to them, how, and why.
In Week 2, we use tarot cards to tap into intuition, character archetypes, and story patterns. (This part almost always turns out to be mind-blowing, even if you have no previous tarot experience or find the whole concept a bit weird!)
In Week 3, we play with 6 different traditional and non-traditional story structures and what aspects of them you might (or might not) want to harness to tell your story.
In Week 4, you’ll start working with a hybrid story structure called the Integrated Story Model, and you’ll create a flexible working outline for your novel. This structure is a place to hang the wildness of the imagination, a container to hold and give shape to the uncontained rawness you’re digging up.
You’ll have daily direction in the form of prompts, questions, inspiration, and creativity jumpstarting tricks to keep you moving forward and on track. You’re supported week by week and day by day by the 12 beats on the Integrated Story Model and your evolving outline. And you can use the online group forum and our weekly group calls to get guidance on everything that comes up in the story, in your practice, and in your relationship with writing.
The focus is on quieting your analytical mind and dropping into a space of engagement with your deeper self and the material that lives below the level of your conscious mind...but with the framework of a structure to contain it and give it an engine that will drive it forward.
This week’s bonus material focuses on ways to approach transcribing, reading, pondering, and inquiring into your wild and wonderful first draft. I give you questions you can use to help you assess and re-envision your novel, and I share tools to help you create a revision plan and a new outline. In our last group session, we’ll discuss how to create a new container as you transition out of this program and into the second draft of your novel. I want you to continue to feel grounded and supported long after our final session!
NOTE: You’re also not receiving feedback on what you write. During the process of creation, I want you to be free of anxiety about any external expectation or assessment. This means you won’t be sending me what you write. Everything you create in this coaching program lives in the protected space between you and the page.
The power of investing in a program like this is that you’ve instantly created not just accountability but a time-limited container that says NOW is when you’re writing your novel — and you have support both to help you do that and to ensure you do it. You’ve built urgency into your creative practice — which means that time, that thing you could never seem to find for writing, now rallies in this new direction.
If you’re already severely under-resourced and over-extended, focusing this intensively on your writing might not be the right choice until you can address that depletion. But otherwise, the most important factor is that you’re ready and able to devote yourself to your creative practice and to commit to your novel.
You don’t have to set aside seven hours a day. Two hours each day, six days a week, is the ideal amount of time, but you can also do it in one hour a day if that’s what you have. I’ll guide you to create a plan that keeps you supported within the realistic parameters of your life.
Many writers enter this first draft program with a history of becoming bogged down and quitting partway into a novel. I’m here to gently hold you accountable as a compassionate guide who knows the roadblocks that might come up for you and can remind you where you’re going, why you’re going there, and — most importantly — show you how to get there. Your fellow Novel Alchemists will be there too, and you’ll be supported by the collective energy of others with the same goal, witnessing your efforts and mirroring the importance of what you’re here to do. Intentional community is powerful!
Overwhelm happens when the steps are vague and the options vast, when there’s no clear path to follow. The Novel Alchemy program is flexible enough to bend to the needs of your novel, your writing practice, your life circumstances, and your unique writer-self, but it’s also solid enough that you always know what your single next step is.
You’ll focus on that step for that day — and then the next step on the next day. And so on.
As long as you’re willing to trust the process and do the next thing, you’ll make it to the end of your draft.
I used to be very resistant to outlining or even to learning about story structures. Hemming myself in beforehand felt too constricting; I wanted the freedom to be surprised, to watch my characters take over, to follow my intuition wherever it led. But the truth is that structure liberates the imagination. When you have at least a few parameters to work within or guidelines to follow, your mind is freed to focus on the creative and you can finally get traction.
What I’ll guide you through is a flexible three-act structure to help you map out the beats of your story in a way that will foster narrative momentum and a growth trajectory for your characters. It also provides a framework for you to hook into day by day, so you’re not showing up at the page with that sinking feeling of “now what?”
The story model can be interpreted loosely, but it gently lays track for a growth arc from some form of unconsciousness through a spark of awakening, opposition, commitment, illusion of success, suffering, letting go, acceptance, taking action, and opposition collision or climax...all the way to integration of a transformed self at the end. It’s not going to result in a formulaic story. You’re free to cut it all up later and weave your scenes together in a completely different order. You’re free to look at the novel framework and leave it behind before you write a word. You’re free to explore ways of pushing it in a more feminine, non-binary, non-western, cyclical, or spirallic story-telling direction, too.
But it’s there as something to push against and engage with, and that is surprisingly liberating.
The program has been used successfully by writers who’ve never attempted a novel as well as by writers who’ve written and published novels but are looking for a more ease-filled and intuitive way to write their next book.
Experienced novelists usually have more context for the aspects of novel structure or character development we explore, but this isn’t a requirement. If it’s your first novel, I’ll show you how to avoid the years of floundering, effortful misery, and abandoned manuscripts that I logged in my early attempts at writing novels.
And if you’ve written other novels and found the experience punishing, confusing, or just plain hard, approaching a new novel in a completely different way — with support and a quick, judgment-free process — may be the healing your creative spirit needs.
We will be meeting online for our weekly group call on Tuesdays at 3pm Eastern.
Note: Daylight Savings may affect when calls will happen for those not living in North America. Click here to determine if the time of the calls will change for where you are living in the world.
— Sheila Burns
“My number one challenge before starting to work with Heidi was keeping a regular writing practice. The structure of a weekly meeting, together with the ‘container’ of the integrated story model, worked incredibly well for me. The first few weeks were a struggle, but then the regularity of sitting down every day at the same time created habit, and I found myself going to my desk with a sense of excitement at what I was creating and curiosity about what was coming next. I also wanted to relearn to write with pen and paper, a practice I gave up years ago. At the beginning of the course I committed to not writing on my laptop, and I didn’t. I found, as research seems to confirm, that writing by hand does indeed allow the creative juices to flow more freely.
It was a huge goal for me at the outset to circumvent my left brain writing habits, worrying overly with the grammar and syntax of my sentences before I got my story down. I found the many exercises I did with Heidi to release me from the grip of my logical, analytical brain, largely worked. I gave up worrying about sentence structure and just tried to connect to my intuition, to my deeper creative self through memory and my subconscious. It was wonderfully liberating to feel I didn’t have to ‘make everything up’, but through asking questions and remaining open to the answers the story would grow organically. Once that pressure was lifted, when I showed up daily, I found it truly astonishing how the ideas began to flow. And when I got stuck, Heidi’s calm, empathetic presence at our weekly meetings, the focus and clarity of her questions, her insightful feedback, helped me regain momentum and keep moving forward.
The other enormously important and difficult thing I learned was to trust in my intuition. As I worked through the material I saw that the daily exercises that make up the integrated story model, the ‘container’, was indeed containing me, and giving me the resources I needed to keep going. There were days, and even an entire week close to the end, when I lost momentum, when I despaired that I wasn’t getting anything of value on the page. But Heidi’s ongoing mantra of believing in the creative process, of keeping faith with what wants to emerge, of just showing up, sustained me. I got to the end with material that I’m excited about, material that is raw but feels full of potential, which was my goal from the beginning.
Working with the tarot cards both delighted and surprised me. I found it a little unnerving at the beginning, because of preconceptions I had about what the tarot was, but I found its power to unlock creativity was huge. The archetypes and story patterns were fascinating and very helpful in developing my own characters and story.
[My favourite thing was] your calm, empathetic, insightful optimism. Your joy in writing as a magical endeavour. Your firm belief, one that you successfully transmitted to me, that something positive would come out of this process. And it did!”
— Cori Powell
“I’d been seriously struggling because I couldn’t take an idea to completion. I’ve been trying to write a novel, any novel, for the better part of 4 years and could never get to the end. So there were psychological benefits to me (and my spouse who no longer thinks I’m a complete lunatic for quitting my job to NOT write a book), and confidence and all the good things that come from overcoming an obstacle to a dream that has eluded you for a long, long time.
Heidi’s plan was so fine-tuned that I would have a question or hit a wall and then literally the next day’s exercise would say “if you’re feeling like this ----” then give you the exact advice you needed to hear that day. She listened and understood my story without reading a single word and too many times to count suggested a trick or strategy to help me overcome a plot or character issue. She had a way of questioning me that helped me discover the answer and usually whatever I was struggling with would have a clear path for moving forward by the end of the call! Over time I started to believe her when she told me to trust that it would all make sense at some point and as I learned to trust Heidi and her process, I discovered I could trust myself, my instincts and creativity to write a story I was interested to tell.
So, TRUST THE PROCESS—or if you aren’t ready to do that, then trust me when I say that if you are serious about writing a novel, then Heidi will get you through the first draft, no matter what is holding you back, as long as you put in the time and remain open to the process.
I think her plan works because in addition to her own experiences as a writer, she has a natural gift with people, has clearly done her research on the creative process and has such compassion for the writer’s struggle. With her 12 week novel program, Heidi built a rope bridge and left it hanging for you before you even noticed you were about to walk off a cliff! But the key is that you still have to cross YOURSELF. It can be scary and unstable, but she walks with you every step and somewhere along the way you’ll learn the bridge will hold you, you can trust the process and you’ll be so proud when you get to the other side with a completed first draft.”
Watch this Instagram Live video with Heidi and Cori
Heidi Reimer is a novelist, essayist, and writing coach based in Prescott, Ontario. Her forthcoming debut, The Mother Act, follows the complicated relationship between an actress who refuses to abandon her career and the daughter she chooses to abandon instead. Heidi’s front row seat to this theatrical world began when she met and married an actor, and her immersion in motherhood began when she adopted a toddler and discovered she was pregnant on the same day. Heidi has tried to write or longed to write or resisted writing or feared writing or, finally, actually written for 38 years.
Find out more at www.heidireimer.com, and sign up for her biweekly letters exploring creative process, living with intention, and the journey into visibility.
Leah Fae is a certified Reiki Master, Kundalini yoga teacher, and trauma informed Hatha yoga teacher. She works with individuals and groups, designs and facilitates ecstatic dance gatherings, and leads ceremony, kirtan, meditation and sharing circles. She is passionate about dance as medicine, everyday magic, singing and music, astrology, growing food, building community, exploring nature, and learning how to be a good human. Learn more at www.leahfae.ca.
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