Editing, For Writers

What is a Writing Coach, and do I need one?

I’m so excited for another guest blog post today and this one is all about writing coaching and what it entails. If you are interested in the guest blogger, Laura Buckley, read more about her at the bottom. Also, if you are interested in guest blogging, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you about writing a blog post of your choosing.

Do you have a story idea that you love, but you’re not sure how to get it written?

Do you have a rough first draft that feels like it could be great, but you’re struggling to get it there?

Do you keep scrapping everything and starting over, not sure how to get a finished draft that lives up to the concept you’ve imagined?

A Writing Coach can help you to solve these problems!

What is a Writing Coach guest blog by Liz Buckley

When you’ve got a reasonably polished version of a manuscript, there are a few steps you can look at taking with that—beta readers, a professional edit, pitching to agents or publishers—but if you’re stuck at an earlier stage, things aren’t necessarily so straightforward. In essence, Writing Coaching helps to bridge the gap between the idea stage and a serviceable draft—or beyond. But what does Writing Coaching actually involve?

What does Writing Coaching involve?

The coaching process can vary dramatically from author to author or project to project, not to mention the coach you’re working with, but it will in all likelihood start with a conversation about what stage your project is at and what kind of help you’re looking for. There are as many different approaches out there as there are coaches, but most will look to help you with at least these key components of the writing process as part of their coaching:

  • Defined goals for your project, and discussion about how to achieve those goals
  • A framework for checking in to look at the progress you’re making towards those goals
  • Some kind of regular feedback on the writing you’re producing
  • Help with overcoming barriers you find along the way

What’s the point of it?

Not every writer needs or wants a Writing Coach, just like not everybody who goes to the gym will want to work with a personal trainer. But if you feel like you’re not getting the results you want from your writing, if you know what you want your story to look like but can’t work out how to get there, or if you’re struggling to stay on-track and motivated while writing, a coach can make a massive difference.

A good Writing Coach can provide a combination of advice, accountability, encouragement and helpful feedback throughout the writing process. They can be somebody to bounce ideas off when you’re stuck, or somebody to run a scene by if you’re not sure why it isn’t flowing right. They can help you hold the overall direction of your story in mind, and keep you moving towards an end-point that you can feel proud of. It’s that combination of big-picture support and practical, hands-on help with the work of writing that I think makes Writing Coaching so powerful.

Writing coaches provide advice and accountability

Will a Writing Coach write my story for me?

Short answer: No. A good Writing Coach will bring out what you love about your story and your personal writing style, helping you bring to life the ideas you’ve already got. They might be able to help you brainstorm plot points, or support you with specific questions you have as you write, but the actual words will be completely your own.

If that’s a disappointing response then what you’re looking for is a ghost writer, not a Coach! But if you’re worried that working with a Coach will mean you’re co-writing a manuscript rather than doing it yourself, have no fear. Writing Coaching is there to support you, not take over.

How do I find a Writing Coach?

The most important thing is not to rush into working with the first Writing Coach you come across. It’s worth talking to a few different Coaches before deciding on one, just to get a feel for how they work and what their system actually includes—since there’s a lot of variety in what different Coaches offer.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that, although your Coach won’t try to drive the story in any direction that you don’t want to, you’ll have a smoother process and probably be more satisfied with the end result if you work with somebody whose style is already aligned with your own.

Most Writing Coaches will offer some kind of consultation to help you both figure out if the relationship would work, make sure you go into these with a clear idea of what you’re looking for and what questions you need to get answered to make an informed decision.

Here are a few things you might want to consider asking a Writing Coach you’re looking at working with:

  • My goal is X, is that something you can help me work towards? Roughly how would that process look with you?
  • How often would we talk about where I’m up to in my writing?
  • What kind of communication methods do you typically use?
  • How much experience do you have with my genre of writing?
  • How often would you give feedback, and what limits are there on the type and amount of work I can get feedback on?

You might also want to ask them if they think you’d work well together—if they are feeling like it wouldn’t be a good fit, there’s a good chance they’ll say so up front, and they may even point you in the direction of a colleague who they think you’d make a better match with.

A good Writing Coach can make a world of difference to your writing experience

Just as long as you find the right one, and know what you’re looking for from the relationship! Have you ever worked with a Writing Coach, or ever looked into hiring one?

More about Laura Buckley

Laura Liz Buckley

Laura is an experienced proofreader and editor, posting writing advice and book reviews twice a week over at lauralizbuckley.net, and she also offers a range of editing and coaching services through her site. You can also follow her on Twitter or Instagram (@lauralizbuckley) for updates.

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