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How a Book Writing Coach Critiques Your Book

Jamie Morris Writing CoachWhether your book writing coach calls it a “critique,” a “review,” or an “evaluation,” they mean the same thing. Your coach will read your work and give you their professional feedback on essential elements of your manuscript.

But wait! Does that sound scary?

For many writers, the idea of a critique—no matter what term we use to describe it—can be anxiety-producing. If you’re worried about sharing your work with a professional writing coach, here’s something to keep in mind. Your coach is not assessing your work to judge you, but to help you achieve your writing goals! As part of your book-writing team, your writing coach has only one objective—to support you.

To support you effectively, when you hire a book coach, the first thing they’ll want to do is evaluate your book-in-progress. It doesn’t matter how far along your book may be. You might only have an idea for a book. If so, that’s fine! In that case, your book coach will work with you to develop an outline or a synopsis from that initial concept. Whatever you have in hand—an idea, an outline, a partial draft, or just a few chapters—your new coach will want to get a feel for where you are in your book-writing process.

This initial critique will allow them to give you feedback on what’s working and what needs further thought. And it’s a great way to get the writing-coaching ball rolling in the right direction.

What your book writing coach looks for …

Writing a novel?

Specifically, if you’re writing a novel, your novel writing coach will probably ask you for a synopsis, a character list, a rough plot outline, and a sample chapter or two. From these materials, your coach will be able to review your story for significant story elements. They will want to know, is your pacing tight and suspenseful? Do your characters’ voices support the general tone of your story? Is your main character facing enough of a challenge to create their all-important internal arc?

You and your coach will discuss these and other aspects of your novel-writing craft after their review of your materials. From there, you’ll create a road map of the path you’ll take as you complete your novel.

Writing a memoir?

While writing a memoir is surprisingly similar to writing a novel in some respects, your memoir coach will first want to consider the scope of your story and its focus.

Memoir vs. autobiography: You see, a memoir differs from an autobiography in two ways. An autobiography considers the entirety of a person’s life—from birth up to time of writing. It will be written chronologically, start to finish, and may well include quite a bit of information about the writer’s parents and other family members.

A memoir, on the other hand, considers either a limited period in a writer’s life or focuses on a single aspect of their life over a longer period of time. Because of these limits, a memoir might be effectively written in any one of a number of non-chronological ways.

Therefore, when they are assessing your memoir concept, your writing coach will want to know the timeline you’ve planned to develop: For instance, where does your story start and stop? Does it cover just your high school years? Your first ten years of sobriety? Or the six months you were in rehab after your accident?

They’ll also be interested in understanding how you are “framing” your memoir. For example, are you focusing your story on a specific event—like the summer you were a ball girl for your local AA baseball team? Or are you writing about a trait from childhood that you overcame in adulthood—like a debilitating fear of dogs?! Your memoir’s scope and focus will determine the outline, so that’s where your coach will start their critique.

Writing a nonfiction book?

If you’re writing a nonfiction book—especially an instructional book, like a self-help or how-to title—a chapter by chapter outline is the most efficient way to convey the organization of your ideas to your nonfiction book coach. This outline will guide you in your drafting process—and it can also form the basis of a nonfiction book proposal, if you choose to create one.

Add in a sample chapter or two, and your nonfiction writing coach will be able to “hear” how you’re addressing your audience. From there, you and your coach are well on your way to tweaking what needs to be tweaked and getting a good, solid draft—or book proposal—done.

Accountability partner + cheerleader!

In addition to reading and responding to your writing, your coach will act as your accountability partner, creating a regular meeting schedule and offering assignments to keep your book moving forward. Your writing coach will also cheer you up when you feel discouraged and cheer you on as you make strides towards completing the very best book you can write!

If you need support in finding a book coach, check out this article on how to find a writing coach. Also, check out Should I Hire a Writing Coachin THE WRITER magazine. If you are considering hiring a book coach, I’d love to invite you to schedule a free writing consultation. Let’s see how I can help!

5 Tips to Get the Best From Your Book Coach

Jamie Morris Writing CoachA book coach can help you transform your dream of writing a book into a hardcover (or paperback) reality! As a professional writing coach, your book coach knows a lot about how to write a book, for sure. For instance, if you’re writing a novel, she can show you how to fix your plot problems. If you’re writing a nonfiction book, she can explain the best way to organize your ideas. And if you’re just getting started? Your coach can even suggest ways to carve out the time you’ll need to write your book.

But no matter how skillful your book coach might be, it’s your input that will really make your writing coaching relationship bear fruit—and by “fruit,” I mean a completed book! Here are five of my best tips to help you make the most of your book coach’s expertise.

Tip #1: Name your goals. When you first hire your book coach, let her know your goals for your book. For instance, do you want to write a memoir and self-publish it to share with family and friends? Or are you writing a nonfiction book to establish your expertise in your field? Or maybe you’re writing a novel that you hope to have published traditionally.

Depending on your book’s genre, and your ultimate goal for it, it might take anywhere from three months to three years to finish your book! For example, writing a novel or a memoir typically takes more time than a self-help book or a personal essay collection. And self-publishing is a much quicker route to seeing your book in print than querying agents and getting a traditional publishing deal.

Once you help her understand just what you want to accomplish, your coach can tell you about how long it will take to complete your book. With that time frame in mind, you and your book coach can schedule regular progress check-ins to keep your book on track.

Tip #2: Take the time you need. Sure, you want to get your book finished as quickly as you can. That’s a given. But you also want to enjoy writing your book as much as possible—and create your best work in the process! To do so, allow yourself the time you need between writing coaching sessions. Don’t rush to meet your writing coach’s expectations. Just explain your other obligations to your book coach—then organize your coaching schedule so it supports your day-to-day life as well as your writing life.

Tip #3: Ask all your questions. Before each meeting with your book coach, prepare a bullet list of your current questions and concerns. One week, you might be wondering about the big, BIG picture: “Is my book really worth writing?” Another week, you may be worried that the plot of your novel isn’t dynamic enough or that you’re taking too long to get to the important elements of your memoir. Whether you want to discuss your book’s next steps—publishing, copyediting, or getting fresh eyes on your writing—or hear what your coach thinks about your current rate of progress, ask her!

Writing can be a lonely business. And, especially for a first-time book writer, the process can seem tedious or baffling or even terrifying! With seemingly infinite choices to make at every turn, it’s natural to wonder whether you’re taking one step forward or three steps back.

Trust that your coach will be truly interested in your questions. At each meeting, she’ll want to hear exactly what’s helping you feel confident, as well as where you’re getting stuck. You’ll be surprised at the helpful strategies she’ll have up her sleeve. As a professional writing coach, she’s gotten hundreds of writers through the tough stuff and back on track. And you, my writerly friend, will benefit from all her experience. If you just remember to ask.

Tip #4: Know that resources abound. No matter the genre of your book or where you are in your book-writing process, there are heaps and heaps of golden resources available to you. From books on plot to YouTube channels dedicated to explaining how to get an agent, you can find information to complement or even enhance all that you’re learning from your book coach. But you don’t have to dig blindly through Amazon’s lists to find the good stuff. Oh, no! Your writing coach has a list of relevant resources—book titles, bloggers, classes, podcasts—at her fingertips, and she will be delighted to share them all with you. Because the more you know, the more you know. Right?

Tip #5: Be an advocate for your ideas. Your book coach is awesome—I know she is! But sometimes she may miss the mark. She may question what you feel is a foundationally important idea about your book, leaving you to feel that you have an adversary, not an advocate. If this happens, though, stand up for your idea! Explain to your writing coach why the concept is important and ask her to help you figure out how to include it in a way that enhances your book, rather than undermines it.

For instance, writer Peg Love had an unconventional approach to joining two genres: Women’s Fiction and Thriller. Before she came to me, she had worked with four developmental editors on her novel. Each one of them was concerned about the same thing: whether the two aspects of her story could combine to make a seamless whole.

I also wondered how Peg could bring her characters’ vastly different experiences together in a way that a reader would find both believable and enjoyable. Peg and I really liked working together, but I continued to feel uneasy about having two genres in one book. After much discussion—and with Peg sticking firmly to her position—we found ways to integrate the two story lines and make them work. Woo-hoo!!

In a blog post about writing coaching, Peg referred to our experience this way:

Through my many [editorial and coaching] sessions I’ve found these attributes to be what makes, for me, a great writing coach: She’s an advocate—a champion of the work and an ally to my goals. When she pushes back on an idea, but changes her opinion after being led through my thought process, I know I have an advocate. She has the breadth of a developmental editor and the depth of an investigator, willingly jumping in to help me untangle weak points and suggest strong threads to braid into the story.

My work with Peg made me a better coach. And I hope sharing her story—and all my other tips—will help you in your relationship with your coach. As I read back through what I’ve shared here, I see a common theme: While your writing coach is a professional with wide knowledge of the literary industry, she’s not the author of your book—or the authority of your experience with her. So, take a page from Peg’s (metaphorical} book. Throughout your book-writing journey, keep the reins firmly in your own hands. Own your process, ask questions, state preferences, and stand strong for the book you want to write. Your coach—and your future book—will thank you for it.

Need help with your book? I’m available for book coaching! And check out Should I Hire a Writing Coach” in THE WRITER magazine.

Three Benefits of a Creative Writing Coach

Would you like support unlocking your full potential as a writer?

What is creative writing and how can a creative writing coach help? When we say, “creative writing,” we’re actually talking about two things: primarily imaginative writing and creatively developed factual writing. The more imaginative types of writing include short stories, novels, and poetry, for example. In these forms of writing, we make up events and images almost entirely from our inner inspiration. We might use elements like imagery, metaphor, and evocative language to get our vision on the page. But writers of nonfiction projects—like memoirs, personal essays, or literary journalism—often rely on many of the same techniques. Adding our own style to our writing makes our work unique and engaging to read, whether what we are writing about is purely imaginative or completely factual.

But using our creativity to write in ways that are personal to us can be an unexpected challenge. While you may think most writers are just born with the ability to spin stories that captivate readers or use language in beautiful and moving ways, most of us need support to develop writing skills like these. That’s where a creative writing coach can come in.

Jamie Morris Writing CoachWhy a writing coach? A professional writing coach—especially a creative writing coach—works with writers (like you?) who want to find ways to add depth, power, and interest to their writing.

Whether you’re an experienced writer looking to take your work to the next level by developing your voice or are a novice writer trying to find the shape of a story, working with a writing coach can unlock your full potential as a writer.

As a creative writing coach, I help writers working on many types of creative writing projects. Among them, I am a

Although there are many reasons to work with a writing coach, here are three top benefits:

1. Personalized guidance and feedback on your writing project

A creative writing coach will provide you with one-on-one guidance and feedback tailored to your individual needs and goals. Whether you’re struggling with plot development, character building, or simply trying to figure out the best way to get your book or essay started, a writing coach can offer insights and techniques to help you overcome your challenges and (creatively!) improve your writing.

2. Accountability and motivation

Sometimes, writing can seem like a solitary—lonely—pursuit. A professional writing coach is a companion on this sometimes-challenging path. They can help you get unstuck and stay on track. They can also help you set realistic goals and act as your accountability partner, helping you stay motivated to achieve those goals.

3. A safe and supportive environment

Your writing coach will provide a safe space for your work to be shared. Writing, especially creative writing, can be quite a personal and vulnerable experience. Therefore, it’s important to have a safe and supportive environment in which to share your work and receive feedback. A writing coach provides a confidential and judgment-free space to explore your creativity and develop your skills.

A creative writing coach can respond to your writing with enthusiasm for what’s working and skillful strategies to help you fix what’s not.

If you need support in finding a creative writing coach, check out this article on how to find a writing coach. If you are considering hiring a writing coach, I invite you to schedule a free writing consultation. Let’s see how I can help!

How to Choose a Creative Writing Coach

creative writing coachingA creative writing coach is a professional who provides guidance, feedback, and support to help writers develop their craft and achieve their writing goals.

Are you looking to hire a writing coach who is the perfect fit? I hear you! Deciding to work with a coach—whether you’re looking for a fiction writing coach, a nonfiction writing coach, or a memoir writing coach—is a big step.

An experienced coach is able to work with writers at all stages of their journey, from beginners to seasoned writers. In my experience, the coach/writer relationship is a personal one. Not only do you need a coach who knows her stuff (of course!), but you want a coach who inspires and supports you.

From my years working as a writing coach, I have plenty of tips to help you know how to find just the right creative writing coach for you—as well as what to expect from that coaching relationship once you and your coach get into the nitty-gritty.

How to choose a creative writing coach

  1. Know your writing goals: Before you start your search, think about what you want to achieve from coaching. Do you want to develop your unique voice, find your personal style, complete your manuscript, discover the right genre for you and the ideal audience for your work—or all of that?!
  2. Research writing coaches: There are many writing coaches out there. Search for book coaches online, through writing associations, or by asking for referrals from other writers. (But remember, while each coach may be great in their own way, not all will be a fit for your needs.)
  3. Review writing coaches’ credentials: On their websites, writing coaches typically present their credentials—including their education and coaching experience. They might also share testimonials from writers who have used their services.
  4. Interview potential coaches: Schedule a consultation with potential coaches to discuss your goals and their coaching philosophy and style. During that meeting, notice if they give you their careful attention and respond to you openly and with a positive vibe.
  5. Sample a session with your top picks: Many coaches will offer some sort of a trial session. This will give you a hands-on chance to see if their coaching style and approach work for you.

A client of mine had this to say about hiring a writing coach: We all have our writing strengths and weaknesses. A good writing coach celebrates the former and helps improve the latter—and she creates an atmosphere of acceptance.

Ultimately, working with a coach can help you become a better writer, make progress with your writing goals, and increase your chances of success as a writer.

I’m an expert writing coach. I coach writers at all levels of experience, in all genres. Take a look at my rates page or book a free initial consultation to see how we might work together. I’m based in sunny Florida, but I am a writing coach for authors around the world. I look forward to talking with you—wherever you call home!

How to Choose the Right Writing Coach

Spit-spot! Hiring a writing coach can be like inviting Mary Poppins into your writing life!

Jamie Morris Writing CoachAre you struggling to improve your writing skills? If so, you might consider hiring a writing coach to help.

Do you feel you’re not making the progress you want, no matter how much time you sink into your writing project?

Like Mary Poppins, a writing coach has a virtual magic carpet bag filled with solutions to your writing problems!

A good writing coach can help organize your writing process, galvanize your plot or story structure, and steer you in the direction of your writing goals and dreams. No matter which way the wind is blowing, I work with writers on all sorts of books and other writing projects.

Creating a blog? Writing your family history? Starting a novel? I can help! I can provide guidance as your

So, how do you go about finding the right coach? Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Consider your goals: Before you start searching for a writing coach, it’s important to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to develop your voice? Learn how to create a dynamic plot? Aim your writing for a specific audience? Or do you have a different goal in mind, altogether? Whatever direction you want to take your writing, be sure to look for coaches who specialize in those areas.
  2. Check credentials: When you find potential coaches, be sure to check their credentials. Look for coaches who have a background in writing, such as a degree in English or journalism, and who have experience working with writers at your skill level.
  3. Has your coach written a book about writing? Do they provide testimonials from other clients? Have any of their clients been published? Questions like these will help you determine the level of the coach’s expertise.
  4. Ask for a sampler! Many writing coaches offer a trial session or consultation to see if they will be a good fit. For example, I provide both a free initial phone consultation and a low-commitment mini-writing coaching session. Offerings like these give you a chance to see if the coach’s approach works for you—before you sign up for a long-term coaching relationship.

Since (unfortunately) writing coaches rarely float down to your front door with a spoon full of sugar and a parrot-headed umbrella, doing your research remains the best way to discover a coach who is (almost) magical in their support of you. And when you find that person? Fantastic! Working with the right coach can take you a long way to achieving your writing goals. To learn more about the writing coach relationship, check out this article, What Is a Writing Coach.

Me? I’m an expert writing coach—who may or may not have a magic tape measure up my sleeve. I coach writers at all levels of experience, in all genres. Take a look at my rates page or book a free initial consultation to see how we might work together.

Benefits of Working with a Writing Coach

Writers, the benefits of working with a writing coach can add up to the perfect equation for your success!

Wondering how working with a writing coach will benefit your writing? I hear you! The decision to work with a writing coach—whether you’re looking for a fiction writing coach, a nonfiction writing coach, or a memoir writing coach—is a big step.

When I asked my colleague Ryan G. Van Cleave, who’s the Head of Creative Writing, at Ringling College of Art and Design, why he thinks someone might take that big step, he was pretty emphatic! He said that working with a writing coach can help a writer in these very significant ways:

  • To stop floundering
  • To save years of heartbreak
  • To shorten the learning curve
  • To help develop an appropriate, effective platform
  • To create a clear direction for their writing efforts and career

All that sounds awesome, right? But what exactly does a writing coach do to help a writer achieve outcomes like that? In this article, we’ll take a peek at some of the benefits of working with a writing coach, ways to find the right coach for you, and what a writer can expect from a coaching relationship. With some luck and hard work, all these elements might just add up to a perfect formula for your success!

Benefits of working with a writing coach

There are many benefits to working with a writing coach. Here’s just a quick list of some of the most often discussed:

  1. All eyes on you: Pretty much by definition, your personal writing coach will give you and your work their undivided attention. Their professional feedback will always be tailored to you and your unique needs and goals. They have your back, always.
  2. Cheerleader: Your writing coach will support you in staying the course. Their enthusiasm for your project will encourage you to show up, even on days when doing so feels like a big stretch. (Writing coach secret: We writing coaches know that those “big stretches” are helping you grow into the writer you want to be.)
  3. “Every day, I’m getting better and better”: Yup. It’s true. When your writing coach brings all the benefits of their education and experience to you and your project, they can help you identify what you’re already doing well (congrats!) and point out where you could improve. And you will improve, because your coach will also give you precise guidance on how to make the changes to your writing that will have the most impact. Woohoo!

Wondering how to find the right writing coach?

  1. One of my clients told me this about her experience looking for a writing coach: I believe part of what makes a writing coach [a great fit] is the writer. Are you open-minded? Are you clear on your goals? Are you ready to deep dive into the work? [When you’re ready], finding the right writing coach is much like dating, trying out personalities, finding which one fits best to foster your productive and fruitful work.
  2. Of course, in addition to personality, there are practicalities to consider. I suggest you look for coaches who have a degree in writing or English (or both). You’ll also want to check out testimonials from their clients. If a coach has written a book about writing, that’s a plus!  I co-authored the innovative guide to plot for novelists and memoir writers PLOTTING YOUR NOVEL WITH THE PLOT CLOCK. And do ask a potential coach (if it’s not obvious on their website) whether any of their clients have been published.
  3. If you’re liking what you’re seeing, ask for a sampler! Many writing coaches offer a trial session or consultation to see if they will be a good fit. For example, I provide both a free initial phone consultation as well as low-commitment mini-writing coaching session. Offerings like these allow you and your potential coach to find out if you are a good fit for each other.

What can you expect from a good coaching relationship?

When Hanna Kjeldbjerg, creative director at Beaver’s Pond Press, recommends an author hire a writing coach, these are some of the reasons she cites: Authors need writing coaches for accountability, organization, and an objective eye. But more than that, writers need a partner who understands their vision for their book, who feels like a friend.

I agree. Whether you’re a more experienced writer or a newer one, I bet you aim high. You deserve a writing coach who meets you there. You want to work with someone who is not only a professional, but who is also your smart, capable writing friend. Having done the (literary!) math before, your coach should be able to help you add up all your resources so they equal your success.

Want to know more about hiring a writing coach? Check out this article about writing coaching from THE WRITER magazine or book a free consultation to discover how a writing coach can help you get your book or project off the ground and into print!

The Five Biggest Benefits of Working with a Book Coach

Your book coach knows that writing a book is an exciting—and ambitious!—undertaking. And your book coach is as enthusiastic about the challenge as you are! (It’s what we live for, honestly.) Wearing a number of different hats—editor, cheerleader, critique partner, among them—your professional book coach has the experience and know-how to help you accomplish your book-writing goals.

Time’s a-ticking: While short-form writers (like bloggers, short story writers, or business writers) might also benefit from a writing coach, when you’re writing a book-length manuscript, a coach can prove invaluable. For example: Your book coach can not only estimate how long it might take you to finish your book (less time for a how-to book than for a first novel, for instance), but she will also share shortcuts that can save you precious days or even weeks!

“How does this sound to you?”: Offering quality feedback is a big part of my job as a book coach. Often, you can find yourself too close to your project to see what’s working and what could use further development. When you ask your coach, “How does this sound to you,” you get the benefit of fresh—and sympathetic—eyes on your work. Your coach will then help you choose what additions, subtractions, or tweaks will serve your book best.

“What will help right now?”: Each time I prepare to meet with a client, I commit to showing up with an open mind and a fresh approach, asking both them and myself “what will help right now?” Writing a book is a complex process. There are many angles to consider at any one time. Determining what’s most important right now keeps your book moving forward. For example, we might decide that one of your character’s voices needs to be developed to create the tone that you’re aiming for. Or we might realize an aspect of your plot or nonfiction book outline needs to be restructured!

(True) story time: A client came to me several years ago after having an emotionally difficult experience with another coach. Her former coach approached every session with a red pen in hand, focusing almost exclusively on line edits and sentence structure. While there is certainly a time and place for that kind of focus, in this case, the writer wasn’t even halfway done with her first rough draft.

Unfortunately, that book coach’s style left the client going in circles—and often in tears! As I wrote in this post about writing coaches, a good coach is always on the writer’s side. They work with the writer, rather than trying to squeeze the writer into a box that doesn’t fit. Congrats, however, to that writer for trying again. She became my client and we set to work to figure out what she and her book needed right then. After that, she was able to work steadily and effectively and complete her manuscript.

Happy ending: That client now has an agent and a contract with a publisher for her completed memoir.

Here is brief summary of a few of the many benefits of working with a book coach:

  1. Provides one-on-one support: A book coach takes the time to learn exactly where you are in your book-writing journey. She always personalizes her feedback and guidance so it suits your unique needs and goals.
  2. Is reliable: Working with a book coach typically involves a combination of individual sessions, assignments, and ongoing professional support. Your coach shows up to meetings prepared, interested, and on time, ready to give you her undivided attention and best advice.
  3. Invites accountability: The book-coaching relationship relies on this old adage: Two (well-prepared) heads are better than one! Because your book coach arrives prepped and primed, you’ll be motivated to do the same. You’ll feel encouraged to complete the writing tasks you’ve committed to, which, in turn, will move your book-writing process along more quickly and consistently.
  4. Motivates: For all the reasons listed above, you’ll most likely find that working with a coach keeps you motivated and inspired. Of course, there are times when writing a book can be tough going. But your coach will be there every step of the way; she’s ready and able to assist you over or around any blocks that might arise.
  5. Helps you become a better writer: Not only will your book coach help you complete your manuscript (a huge win!), but she will also help you find ways to improve your writing chops along the way. This means that when you type “THE END” you’ll be a better writer than when you faced that blank screen for the first time.

And that’s a win you can take down the field for another goal.

Want to know more about hiring a book coach? Check out this article about writing coaching from THE WRITER magazine. Learn how to find a writing coach by reading this article. Or book a free consultation to learn how a writing coach can help you get your book or project off the ground and into print!

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