What Is a Writing Coach?

What is a writing coach?

Most people think a writing coach is an expert who helps you get your book done. And that’s absolutely true. But that’s not all a writing coach does.

A professional writing coach wears several hats: Part editor, part cheerleader, part story confidante, they have the chops, experience, and know-how to boost your writing power.

Certainly, if you’re a nonfiction author, a novelist, or a memoir writer, a writing coach can help you amp up your plot, develop convincing characters, or figure out how to find the time to write a book when you’re juggling so many other demands.

But many writing coaches, me included, work with writers on a multitude of non-book projects. For example:

  • You might want help developing your blog.
  • Or, if you work for a corporation, you may need to up your business writing game!
  • On the other hand, you could be writing and submitting short stories or flash memoir to magazines or contests and need an excellent reader to show you how to improve what you’re sending out into the world.

A writing coach is a trusted reader.

In an interview with Tia Levings on THE WORKING WRITER PODCAST, I said, Offering quality feedback is a big part of my job. Good writing doesn’t happen in an echo chamber.

You know how it goes–-you work hard on a piece and feel like it’s done, until that edge of doubt creeps in. “Is it really any good?” “Am I missing something?” “Who can I ask to read it?”

Basically, a writing coach is your smart, capable writing friend. They’ve traveled this road before, and know how to help you get you where want to go. They can respond to your writing with enthusiasm for what’s working and skillful strategies to help you fix what’s not.

A bit like Mary Poppins, a professional writing coach arrives with the skills, empathy, and experience that will help you make the most of your creative gift.

Whatever your writing needs, I can help.

I’m an expert writing coach. I have enjoyed many, many opportunities to coach writers at all levels of experience, in all styles and genres. Take a look at my rates page to learn about how we would work together, or book a free initial consultation.

What is a great writing coach?

I’ve been coaching writers for well over a decade and have developed solid strategies along the way, but I was curious: What makes a great writing coach? I asked this question of several writers. Here’s what they said.

Tom Wallace, editor, ghostwriter: Contrary to what many new writers believe, the craft of writing is less an inborn talent than a collection of skills to be learned. Great coaches help writers apply the skills needed to make their stories work. Hiring a writing coach can transform a writer’s creative journey and pay off for years to come.

Teri Saveliff, author of SIGNATURES: A good coach will tell you the truth. A great coach will tell you the truth in a way that encourages you to jump in and make the changes that will benefit your story—even, or especially, if these are big changes.

MK Swanson, writer: A great coach is …

  1. A best friend for delivering truth gently.
  2. A concierge on whose efficiency you can depend.
  3. A masseuse with whom your creative muscles relax.
  4. A trail guide to lead you past the brink of madness.
  5. A magic hat from which to pull rabbits.

Peg Loves, writer: I believe part of what makes a writing coach great is the writer. Are you open-minded? Are you clear on your goals? Are you ready to deep dive into the work?

Scott Dobbins, futurist: A great writing coach knows when to push you and how to pull it out of you. They are both your cheerleader and your challenger, your accountability partner and your friend.

Reverend Rebecca M. Bryan, minister at First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist:  A great coach is someone whom you trust implicitly. She always tells the truth and holds the success of your work as paramount importance. Her critique and redirection always nudge you to the next right step in your writing, while her encouragement is ever-present.

Ryan G. Van Cleave, author, Head of Creative Writing, Ringling College of Art and Design: The best writing coaches aren’t just editors—they’re guides to the wider world of reading, writing, and publishing. A great writing coach will offer insider-industry advice to create a pathway to the future you want in the world of writing.

Hanna Kjeldbjerg, creative director at Beaver’s Pond Press: 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. That makes a great writing coach.

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