Thinking Ahead 5: Specific Services I Want to Offer from my Business

For the past several years, I have run a business called “Pen and Paper Mama Services.” For the main part, I have done tutoring and editing, plus some writing, workshops, author website consulting, and other similar activities. But as I reached the grand age of 65 in the summer of 2020, I am now considering how I can take on some new directions in my business and in my life. Over the next few blog posts, I will share the research I have been doing on various alternatives—and I’d be happy to have readers share their thoughts and input in the comments. Thank you! The following are the topics I’ll be covering:

  1. Coaching
  2. Mentoring
  3. Mentor writing and self-editing
  4. Mentor tutoring
  5. Specific services I am considering offering


Now that I have researched coaching and mentoring, and applied them in general ways to writing, self-editing, and tutoring, it’s time to apply them specifically to myself and to my Pen And Paper Mama Services business as I move forward and change directions in my life. As I’ve mentioned before, I have reached (and passed) 65 years of age—officially, “retirement” age. But while I do want to relax somewhat, I don’t feel ready to spend my “golden years” just sitting around.

Like most people (I imagine), I’d like to made time to follow some of my dreams—things like perhaps be part of an intentional community, help out at family camps and retreats, be a “teaching Grandma,” share old-timey skills like canning and sewing and gardening with younger folks, buy and customize a van or bus for casual road trips and adventures as well as visits to our kids and grandkids, become more fluent in French (and maybe Haida, too), volunteer in a developing nation, and perhaps (oh yes!) have a little cabin by a wild ocean beach! Sad to say, though, some of these things require a bit of money, so continuing with my business, though less formally and at a less active level than in the past, could be wise, right?

Besides which, I do really enjoy tutoring, writing, and editing—but would prefer at this point to engage in these activities in a more relational and less structured way. It seems to me, then, that a mentoring approach would more likely fit that bill. Following are some ways I am thinking about how I can make this kind of change in my business. I probably won’t be able to do all these things and follow my dreams to, but they are approaches that appeal to me.

General Mentoring (And/or Some Coaching)

– have fewer clients and “jobs,” but focus on longer-term mentoring style individual relationships, plus some group workshops/activities
– meet in-person when possible, but also online (Zoom, Skype, phone, email) when I’m “on the road” in my customized/camperized van 😊
– share knowledge and experience through hands-on workshops/seminars at conferences or retreats; ideally provide these activities to focused age groups (youth, young adults, seniors, etc.) and to specific interest groups on topics for which I have experience, knowledge, and enthusiasm
– continue to build a body of tutorial-style works that clients/students can use for personal self-study learning, practice, and self-guidance (blog posts, worksheets, workbooks, self-study courses, checklists, handouts, etc.)
– help clients and students to: overcome personal issues such as procrastination and creative blocks; develop organizational and time management skills; build self-confidence; develop business skills; help with family and career responsibilities; discuss physical, mental, emotional, spiritual issues
– help clients build personal platforms through social media, websites, blogs, readings and other live performances, etc.
– help them develop their unique, core passions, values, beliefs, and goals; stand up for what they believe in; and step out through their writing and/or other skills to create change
– help clients define and clarify their project’s purpose, target audience, theme/thesis, short- and long-term goals and priorities, and scheduling
– provide challenging, personalized questions for clients and students to dig into, which will help both them and me to understand what kind of help or direction they really need and want; help them clarify for themselves their goals and dreams and make firm plans to act on them
– be a person who clients can bounce ideas off, and who can provide some unique perspectives and guidance for new directions in their writing, educational, and other life paths
– provide accountability for client learning and project development/processes
– give upbeat, positive advice; provide personalized encouragement and honest input to maximize their strengths and address their challenges
– make recommendations for ongoing development of skills and lifelong learning

Helping Writers Specifically:

– help writers continuously grow to become better writers and self-editors, rather than overly depending on editors and others to “fix” their writing for them, yet at the same time learn to network and develop a strong team of fellow writers to encourage and help each other
– create lists of guiding questions related to specific aspects of writing, self-editing, and working with editors (I already have made a number of lists which are available on my site; I can continue to develop more lists as needed)
– help writers move through the writing and editing process at a steady yet comfortable pace suited to their individual needs
– help writers assess their book/project plan objectively, or create one
– help writers develop clarity about their writing goals—be able to self-articulate their own goals and self-identify the kind of help they require
– help writers build connections and networks with other writing, editing, and publishing professionals who can help them develop skills in areas in which I personally lack detailed knowledge or skills (e.g. book design, certain genres, marketing, distribution, etc.)
– although I have years of experience as an editor and writing teacher, I am more interested at this point in doing mentoring and some coaching rather than working in specific editing. I may do some editing for shorter-length materials such as short stories, personal essays, blog posts, and articles, and possibly also edit some memoir writing
– help with creating blurbs, query letters, synopses, proposals, etc.
– help writers develop strong habits such as daily writing, observational skills, creating/choosing writing spaces, setting boundaries, publishing regularly, and appropriate self-care
– discuss with writers how they can make changes and/or improvements in format, direction, voice, genre, grammar, etc., to increase their writing skills and do writing they really care about
– help writers seek new directions in their writing life, and help them see writing as fun, inspiring, and positively challenging: find joy in their writing journey
– help writers learn how to blog (own blogs or guest blogs), enter contests, and submit to publications
– help writers learn to self-analyze their skills and then continuously develop their writing and self-editing skills
– point writers to relevant resources and materials
– help writers develop business skills (money and time investments, basics of freelance or employment writing, business plans, bookkeeping and tax preparation)

Specific to Tutoring:

– develop resource materials for specific tutoring needs (I have already created a number of materials available on my site and site, and have other materials under development; also able to create other materials as needed)
– focus on helping students develop learning skills (reading, writing, listening, comprehension skills, etc.) that will be applicable to a wide variety of school learning experiences, as well as to lifelong learning (vs specific subject matter content tutoring)
– help students develop life skills such as time management, study skills, communication skills, and organizational skills
– work individually with students to experiment with different learning styles and approaches to help them find personalized ways of learning that work especially well for them
– help find previous gaps in student learning, and help them fill in those gaps so they have a strong foundation for future learning; also work with elementary students (mostly) to help them develop a love of learning that will stay with them throughout life
– use a wide variety of learning resources and approaches, individualized to meet personal needs
– work with students who have learning differences and various special needs that are difficult to provide for in a classroom situation

Developing My Own Skills and Goals

Yes, I want to keep on learning, too—and become a better writer, mentor, and tutor. Some of my personal goals include:

– further develop my own writing interests: personal essays, memoir, formal essays, short fiction, article writing, humour, poetry, blogging, development of workbooks and other curricular materials
– develop/broaden my own use of writing and editing tools—and then help others learn to use them as well
– gather testimonials and other resources to improve my own websites
– take speaking lessons, for example through Toastmasters or similar training
– I see myself as a “Jill of all trades” with a wide variety of personal interests. I like to help and serve, I love lifelong learning, I enjoy personal challenges, spirituality is important to me, I avoid being trapped or stressed by “the system” and “institutional rules,” and I look forward to, at this point in my life (retirement age!), spending more time enjoying and incorporating my personal interests and goals into my business versus seeing my business as “work/job/career.”
– I love the challenge to “think outside the box” and “spread the net wide” and take “adventuresome leaps”; flow with my pen and paper; follow my heart; find joy in my personal writing and in helping others
– continue to provide detailed, useful information in my blog posts (both my writing and editing posts, and my educational posts), and add to and develop my personal interest blogs (Haida Gwaii Building Bridges, Penticton Pedestrian, Conversations Reflections Meditations, My Church Journey, etc.) – and blog on diverse topics of particular interest to me
– have greater freedom to use my own creativity, imagination, pathways, and skills rather than be under pressure to conform to institutionalized methods

Thoughts? (Feel free to comment!)