Is Coaching A Good Idea For Freelance Writers? Maybe!

by Anne Wayman

writing coachA bunch of years ago I hired a business coach and the biggest realization I had as a result of that relationship was that I could offer the same sort of service to writers. I, of course, am one of millions of folks who coach freelance and other writers.

All writing coaches, I suspect, have a general goal of helping writers achieve their writing dreams, and we each have a highly personalized approach.

Some are very formal and have a specific approach that they won’t vary from. I know this because I did a trial session with one like that. I’m sure that works for some; it drove me mad!

Yes, I have a more causal or open approach but I also have a structure that forms the foundation of my coaching.

I like to think the coaching I do is driven more by the writer I’m coaching than any preconceived notion I might have of how it has to be.

Here’s a general overview of what I provide and how I do it:


Deep listening - listening carefully and fully to the writer’s hopes and dreams is where it all starts for me. This includes asking lots of clarifying questions and repeating my understanding until we both feel I have a true sense of what they want with their writings. 

Help the writer establish their overall Vision – I usually conduct a Visioning with them, face-to-face if we’re in the same area or over the phone if we’re not. The result of this process is generally an expanded and grounded view of what the writer wants to do and accomplish. It works individually and in group forum and I always grow too.

Help the freelance writer determine their goals – Once the Vision is in place, the goals come pretty naturally. For the most part we choose only one, their most important goal, to work with in our coaching relationship. As one gets accomplished we may take on another.

Aid in determining baby steps needed to reach goals – One of the secrets to reaching goals is, of course, chunking them into bite sized or baby steps. Often this list of baby steps grows and grows in the beginning as new parts are discovered, but bit by bit it will get done if the writer keeps at it.

Provide accountability – In many ways accountability is the biggie. At the end of each session we agree on an assignment or two; at the beginning of the next session I find out if they did it or not. If they didn’t we gently explore what got in the way. Generally just identifying the problem helps break it up. And if that doesn’t work, together we develop a different way to get it done. Being accountable to me helps the writer actually take the baby steps they need to take to get to their goal.


Accountability seems to work like this: Somehow when I promise someone I’ll do something I usually do – that’s true of most of us. There’s something about the way the brain’s wired to make it easier to get a task done if we know we’re going to report about it to someone who is supportive. It works so well we’ve added an accountability topic in the 5 Buck Forum. Many of us post weekly what we plan and then post what gets done and what doesn’t. It’s a process the works one-on-one as in coaching and in a group like in the forum.

May read and comment – editing isn’t part of my coaching agreement, although I can be hired to do that too, but not as a coach. As a writing coach I may read and comment on some writing, but often not.  The goal of the coaching I do is to encourage, support, make space for and provide accountability to help the writer achieve what they want to achieve.

If your stuck a writing coach can help you get unstuck; if you want help with your writing business, a writing coach can help. Writing coaches can help you improve your writing, get good at marketing, and generally become the success you dream of becoming.

Your turn: Have you ever used a writing coach? Coached writers? What do you think of writing coaches? Tell us all about it or ask questions in comments.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly Jones February 2, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi Anne, do you do “novel writing” coaching? I am a freelance writer who, by coincidence, is working on my own novel on the side. I get asked a lot to help others by editing their novels and even ghost-writing. I end up telling them I don’t offer that service and sending them on their way with a few gems of how to approach novel-writing that I have learned in my years of research on the subject. Sometimes, I even listen to their story idea and give them some specific advice. I always wish I could send them to someone who does offer more in-depth novel-writing help but I know at least one person who found, after getting some advice from me, that he was better-equipped to write his novel and he already has an agent interested. I don’t have an agent :(. Perhaps I’ll go into coaching for novels myself…
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annew February 5, 2013 at 9:31 am

I have on occasion been able to help a novel writer – mostly bringing, I think, both accountability and some clarity.

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Amandah January 31, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Hi Anne,

I have used a writing a coach. The coaching sessions helped me to focus on my writing. It was also nice to speak with another writer who understood what it’s like to begin a writing career.

Yes, I have coached aspiring writers, but I was never paid for it. I receive emails or someone who’s in my contact list will see that I’m online and will ask me questions. I offer my guidance and words of wisdom, but it’s up to the person to find writing opportunities, create a website, etc. I can’t do everything. :)
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annew February 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thanks Amandah… obviously I do a bit of free coaching here… sometimes people want more of my time and I do charge for that.

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Allena January 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

Anne,
I did some coaching as a result of some classes I offered at the local community college. I’d have students asking to hire me for private help afterward. I finally ran with the idea, but not for very long! While I enjoyed working with writers online and with my former students, I MISSED my OWN writing time! A lot! What fell by the wayside when I took on coaching wasn’t my paid writing, but, of course (instead) my “me” writing. That was sad.

I might offer it again sometime in the future, but we’ll see.

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annew January 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Allena, I won’t take coaching that takes me away from my writing… won’t do anything that does… up your prices!

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