Ever wonder what it would be like to have someone to talk with about your writing? Someone who actually understands the process because they’ve done it and still do it?
Would it make your life easier if you had regular conversations with someone who could listen deeply to your writing vision and frustrations? Someone who would gently hold you accountable and help you set and reach your writing goals? Someone who can help you celebrate your success and commiserate productively when it didn’t go as you’d hoped?
This is exactly what a good writing coach or writing mentor can do – help you develop as a writer and grow your freelance writing career.
How I Coach Writers
When I’m coaching or mentoring, which I do over the phone, usually in roughly 20 minute segments, it goes something like this:
- In the first session we spend time figuring out what you really want to achieve with and for your writing. You might want help determining your rates or how to increase them. You might have a book you want to start… or finish. You might be just getting started as a freelance writer and want some help with that. The possibilities are literally endless – and I can help you figure out the focus that works for you.
- Toward the end of that first session we’ll figure out what your assignment should be and when our next session should happen. Assignments are typically writing assignments – a purpose statement, a draft query, the draft of an article, the beginning of a chapter. If it’s not writing it might be some research or other activity designed to move you toward your goal.
- You email me your assignment 36 hours before our next session. I read it and make comments to send back to you as the basis for our next conversation. (I don’t edit – that’s a different relationship.)
Immediately following the call I send you an email that details:
- How much time we spent and how much time we have left on your prepayment. Yes, I require prepayment.
- A summary of what we discussed – usually only a few lines.
- Recap of your next assignment.
- Confirmation of our next appointment.
In other words, as writing coach I act as a knowledgeable sounding board and accountability partner who works with you to move you toward the writing you want to get done.
What To Look For In A Writing Coach
If you Google writing coach you’ll soon see there are millions of us – well thousands anyway. Here’s what I suggest you look for in a writing coach:
- Someone who has genuine, verifiable experience as a successful writer. This should be obvious, but there are some scammers out there and verifying their writing is one way to sort the real from the unreal.
- Someone you feel comfortable with when you talk with them on the phone. Coaching is an intimate relationship. You need to be comfortable with your coach. You need to trust them so you can tell them the truth and so you can hear the truth from them. Maybe the way to say it is you want someone you comfortably respect.
- Someone who will help you set specific, achievable goals. Goals that aren’t clear, written down and achievable are worthless.
What You Bring To The Coaching Relationship
Coaching doesn’t occur in a vacuum and a coach can’t wave a magic wand. You are the second half of the equation. You need to be willing to bring:
- Honesty. You have to tell the truth or be willing to find it if you’re relationship with a coach is to be successful.
- Willingness. Writing is hard work and you have to be willing to do the work you agree to or there’s not point.
- Open mindedness. A good writing coach will gently tell you the unvarnished truth about your writing and make suggestions. Although writing is far from an exact science, you need to be open minded and seriously consider, and maybe even try, the suggestions your coach makes. If you’re not willing, again, there’s no point the relationship.
- Ability to invest in your writing career. Writing coaches need to get paid like any other professional. Fees are all over the map. Figure out how much you’re willing to invest on a weekly or monthly invest and find the best coach you can afford.
Coaching vs. mentoring
I’m sometimes asked, “what’s the difference between a writing coach and a writing mentor?” Not much in my experience. The real difference is probably in the experience and style of the coach or mentor you’re considering hiring.
Call it what you will, working with an experienced writing coach or mentor can be of tremendous benefit.
Of course, not every writer needs a writing coach, but if you do, it can be transforming for your writing career.
What’s been your experience with a writing coach.