Why hire a writing coach?
Are you asking yourself why you should hire a writing coach? Wondering how a coaching relationship will benefit your writing? I hear you! Deciding 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 we’re in the throes of any writing project, we might find we need support. Of course, that support can come in many forms: among them, writing classes, workshops, and critique groups.
So, why hire a writing coach? Perhaps the most important reason is this: No matter how terrific a teacher, workshop leader, or critique partner, none of them can give a writer the individual, expert attention a writing coach will deliver.
Good news! When you’re considering hiring a writing coach, even if you’re fairly new to writing, it means you’re serious about moving forward toward your writing dreams! You’re ready to dedicate time to your craft and to bring your project to completion.
I salute you. Just the fact that you’ve arrived at this place in your writing life is a significant milestone to be celebrated!
Whether or not you’re prepared to take the leap right now, I’d love to offer some insider knowledge about the benefits of working with a writing coach. Consider this food for writerly thought!
Here are 10 reasons a coach could be the best gift you can give yourself.
1. By definition, your writing coach gives you and your writing professional, focused, personal, one-on-one attention.
2. You coach asks the right questions. Based on your answers, she helps you map a path for your writing efforts.
3. A writing coach is a writing expert. Whatever your writing goals, she has the experience and wisdom to help you take the next solid steps on the path you’ve mapped out.
4. Your coach will help you avoid time-wasting literary pitfalls, potholes, and dead ends. This means hiring a writing coach can offer you a (relative) short cut to publication.
5. Your writing coach is your accountability partner. She’ll help you set (reasonable) incremental goals and deadlines. And she’s as excited as you are to read the work you’re producing.
5. It can be hard to find folks who are knowledgeable about writing and interested in talking about our writing with us. Your writing coach ticks both boxes. At each meetings, she’s excited to see what you’ve brought to the table and knows how to help you take it to the next level.
6. Your coach offers insightful, expert feedback on both your writing and the process by which you’re getting that writing done. Her responses are tailored to your learning style and reflect her respect for the commitment you’re making.
7. Ryan G. Van Cleave, author and Head of Creative Writing, Ringling College of Art and Design says this about what a writing coach brings to the table:
The best writing coaches are guides to the wider world of reading, writing, and publishing. They offer insider-industry advice to create a pathway to the future you want in the world of writing.
8. Some days, writing is hard. On those occasions, a writing coach offers comfort and reassurance. She believes in you. Some days, it’s good to have someone like that on your side.
9. Other days, there are triumphs—large or small—to be celebrated! Got an essay accepted for publication? Finished a tricky chapter? Your coach will lead the stadium in a resounding cheer!
10. Why hire a writing coach? Because your coach is interested in you as a writer. Whether she forwards an article that relates to your project, or makes time for a quick consultation to help you resolve a problem, or advises you on an opportunity that has presented itself, your writing coach is there to support and encourage, to sympathize and celebrate.
Want to know more about hiring a writing 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 discover how a writing coach can help you get your book or project off the ground and into print!
One writer’s story about working with a writing coach
When Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Sanders contacted me, she had a drawer full of well-started, but never-finished novels—good ones! Lisa could plot up a storm and create compelling characters to carry those plots, so the quality of her writing wasn’t the problem. What was the problem? Life! Busy both with her family medicine practice and her own family, she just never managed to get any of these excellent stories all the way to the finish line. Until now.
Lisa is very smart, very independent. She figured if she really wanted to launch her career as a novelist, she would make it happen, busy life or no. But she didn’t. Until recently, when she decided to get some support—in the form of hiring a writing coach—and, yes!!, completed a strong draft of a contemporary thriller she’s currently preparing for editorial review.
Lisa graciously allowed me to share her story here, just in case you—smart, independent, with a big writing project waiting in the wings of your life—are asking, “Why hire a writing coach?”
Lisa’s novel-writing journey
In June 2020, a few months into the pandemic, my private medical practice was struggling, and I, personally, was weighed down by the new reality. I was searching for something life-affirming to do—beyond creating a sourdough starter or fermenting my own vinegar. (I had already canned jam and sewn a quilt. Anything to distract myself from the harrowing truth of COVID.)
At that time, I was finding it hard to read—or even to listen to audio books. I couldn’t go to the gym because of COVID. And it was the dead heat of our Florida summer, only to get hotter, so hiking and biking were both out.
I decided I would invest in myself creatively in different way, a way that initially felt extravagant and extraordinary. I decided to hire Jamie Morris to coach me as I tried to write a novel.
I made peace with the idea by thinking of it as hiring a personal trainer for my writing life. So, I asked Jamie if she could help me create a habit for writing that would get me all the way through a sturdy first draft—finally.
Writing was not new to me. I’d written most of a novel eight years before, but it was now sitting in a box. When I contacted Jamie, I was holding several other filaments of novels in my head. To get us started, Jamie asked me to send her slivers of each story so she could see which sounded the strongest.
I did, and she suggested that we work on a thriller. It had a strong voice, she said, and felt like it had “legs.” And with that, we were off!
No longer was writing just a hobby. Having Jamie as a coach meant I had a benchmark, a deadline, and a reader that would assess my work, give me feedback, and teach me better techniques.
She helped me access my confidence. She helped me see I had a story to tell and the ability to tell it well.
If you’re having trouble finding your direction, finishing your first draft, or overcoming any other writing challenge, hiring a writing coach may be just what you need. —Lisa Sanders
Six months later, with two-thirds of a solid draft in hand, I re-upped with Jamie for a second round. During our second set of sessions, I fleshed out the full arc of my character and her narrative and fine-tuned her voice.
Another few months elapsed, and I had a finished draft of a full novel. Sure, I needed to edit it further. It needed to be tighter. But, with Jamie’s strong guidance, I had the next steps on my path mapped out. Suggesting I get fresh eyes on the manuscript before embarking on another round of edits, she recommended a few developmental editors for me to contact.
I think writing a novel with the help of a coach is like training for a marathon. I couldn’t just sit down and pour the novel out of my head any easier than I could run 50 kilometers without a plan. Novel writing takes training, endurance, and perseverance. Jamie helped me create the plan and fulfill it. And she made every moment I spent with her count.