For nearly four decades, local author David Hazard has been helping aspiring writers find their voices—and their audience.
This month, Hazard gives a series of free workshops through Loudoun County Public Library to help local writers create, publish and sell their work.
Throughout his career as a writing coach, Hazard has served as teacher, psychologist and spiritual counselor to clients around the world. And his specialty is in helping writers remove the blocks that keep them from reaching their full creative potential.
“Just as there is in sports a sports psychology, I have developed in the last 38 years of coaching a creative psychology,” Hazard said. “What I have learned over these years is that the same interior blocks are almost universal. And so what I train writers and artists to do is to find that inner spark of their creativity and then to remove the inner blocks to them being able to release it.”
A native of upstate New York, Hazard arrived in western Loudoun in 1978 to take an internship with the Christian publishing company Chosen Books, launched by the writer Catherine Marshall LeSourd in an old schoolhouse in Lincoln. Hazard was very quickly named editorial director of the company. But when Chosen Books was sold in the early ’80s and its headquarters moved to the Midwest, Hazard opted to stay in Loudoun and launch a career as a publishing consultant and writer.
Hazard has published more than 30 books of his own, including the 1984 “Blood Brothers” with Nobel Prize nominee Elias Chacour. But working with fledgling writers has always been a passion. Eight years ago, he launched his coaching business, Ascent, and now has clients from Loudoun County to Katmandu, Nepal.
“I realized I had all the aspects to put together a preparatory program for authors to take you from the idea in your head, help you understand who is your real audience and how do you connect with them. And from that, how do you take your idea and build a really fantastic, winning manuscript that can then sell. That’s the goal,” he said.
Shortly after launching Ascent, Hazard approached Loudoun’s library system about giving writing workshops as a volunteer. The idea behind the workshops is to give a condensed version of his coaching offerings—from putting inspiration into words, to working on technique to finding a publisher. Hazard will also offer a more interactive three-week writing workshop March 13-April 3 at The Cooley Gallery in Leesburg, where he’ll be offering quarterly programs for writers.
“I wanted to give people a good, holistic view of what writers need to know to be successful,” he said.
There’s definitely an element of the spiritual counselor in Hazard’s work as a coach. And helping aspiring authors craft their message often means pushing them to go to places they’re hesitant to go.
Hazard says he helped inspire one client, U.S. Marine helicopter pilot and Iraq war veteran Dan Sheehan, to change his focus from a collection of war stories to a soul- searching exploration of the impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sheehan’s memoir, “After Action,” was published in 2012 and won numerous awards including the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Sheehan, who met Hazard at a Loudoun library program and has since moved to the West Coast, followed up last year with “Continuing Actions: A Warrior’s Guide to Coming Home.”
Hazard’s seminar at Cascades Library in 2012 inspired Cascades resident Louise Babirak to turn her concern about child trafficking in the DC area into a novel. Babirak self-published her novel “Shadow Children” in 2014.
For Babirak, who did extensive research in preparation for writing the book, getting bogged down in facts was a problem, and Hazard helped her learn to provide the details that make a novel.
“I took all these facts and said, ‘How do I make this a story that will inform the reader and also make them keep reading,’” Babirak said. “I would write something, and David would take a scene and add some color, and then I learned to do it myself. He made me see the importance of fine detail.”
Hazard also worked with former Washington Redskins linebacker Eddie Mason, who now operates a gym in Sterling, to complete his self-help/memoir combo “Training for The Tough Game of Life,” which was published last year.
Hazard had put his own writing on hiatus in recent years, but is now working on new material, with an increasingly spiritual focus, including a book of poetry and a series of essays exploring commonalities in world religions. And his focus on the spiritual is also what pushes him to continue working to inspire other writers, particularly those who want to make global contributions.
“What I’m looking for is the fire, the gold. I’m happy to coach the person who’s got an interesting novel or family story, but my life is about finding people who have a mission to change this world.”
For more information on David Hazard’s Ascent coaching business, go to www.itsyourlifebethere.com. Follow Hazard on Twitter at @TheDavidHazard.
David Hazard’s Talks and Workshops
The author and writing coach gives a series of talks on writing and publishing in March and April at libraries around the county. Attend a single talk or the whole series and get a start on that novel or memoir.
March 8, Purcellville Library: Secrets of Writing a Bestselling Book
Thursday, March 10, Cascades Library: Success at Self-Publishing
Tuesday, March 15, Middleburg Library: Getting Publishers to Say Yes!
Thursday, March 24, Cascades Library: Writing Creative Nonfiction
Tuesday, April 12, Purcellville Library: Writing a Powerful Memoir
Hazard’s three-part workshop, How to Write a Great Novel or Memoir, takes place Sundays, March 13, March 20 and April 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Cooley Gallery, 9 N. King St., Leesburg. Cost is $375 per person. Details: thecooleygallery.com/writing–meditation