My short answer is yes.
When I wanted to get serious about writing I had a few marks against me: little formal training, dated experience, and few connections.
The advice online and in magazines was abundant and murky: join a writing group; just write and submit; find a mentor. Last I’d checked, our local Target did not have a large selection of critique circles or free mentors on the shelves.
Searching, I registered for a one-night class where our teacher’s credentials included published author and certified life coach.
Two weeks later, I still hadn’t written much and wondered if I’d ever feel like a “real” writer when I glanced over and saw the author’s card on a corner of my desk. I called and after a free consultation, signed up for my first session.
I’ve been attending weekly or bi-weekly sessions with my coach for the last year and the results are remarkable. But we’ll come back to that.
Why Should You Consider Hiring a Coach?
Tiger Woods, NFL Quarterbacks, even Picasso all had personal teachers dedicated to their success.
“But writing is different. It’s art. It can’t be taught, you just have to do it.”
Writing is both art and craft. It’s also a goal, a pursuit, a vocation, a dream.
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write or how to get started. I had no writing community and felt I didn’t have years to establish one. My goals have shifted many times throughout the past twelve months but I continue to see progress.
You sign your kids up for guitar lessons, hire batting coaches for your little leaguer, and may even treat yourself to a personal trainer. Why should your calling to write be any different? You deserve help in reaching your dreams if you feel you need it.
What Does a Coach Do and What Can You Expect?
Coaches are as varied as writers. There are book coaches who help you conceive of and shepherd a book to publication. There are writing coaches that act as tutors providing craft instruction and critiques of your work. Then there are more general coaches offering instruction, critiques, and a variety of goal setting and visioning tools to help guide your career.
I chose a Certified Life Coach who was a writing teacher and had extensive experience with the publishing world.
What Does a Typical Session Consist of?
First off, you should know that I almost always cry. I’m not sure if it’s with relief that I’m taking my own dreams seriously or gratitude that someone other than my supportive family believes in me. Thankfully, she does not charge extra for tissue.
Although writing is therapeutic, our sessions are not therapy. My coach, however, is a trained counselor which doesn’t hurt when dealing with the emotional task of writing from the heart.
Our weekly session starts with a centering and breathing exercise of which I was initially suspicious. This costs me money and I want to get better at writing, not hippie, woo woo stuff. I now look forward to this positive blessing of my writing life. I feel hope, determination and resolve settle over me.
Once centered, we discuss my results from last week, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we set concrete goals for the upcoming week. These may include word counts, submittals, time management, brainstorming, or big picture ideas.
We talk about managing the inner critic, coming up with new ideas, handling rejection, writing routines, family support, publications to query, dealing with negativity, etc.
I leave with a to-do list for the week and the wonderful feeling of investing in my dream. My coach believes in my ability and provides support and feedback via text, email, etc., outside of our regularly scheduled sessions.
How Do You Tell if it’s Working?
We’ve all had the experience of a good fit; a teacher that seems to “get” your child’s personality; a hair dresser that knows one inch means just one inch; or a tax guy that helps you think out-of-the box with deductions.
Coaching is no different. Personality matters. Energy matters. Availability and pricing and credentials all matter.
But results are where it’s at. Here’s a few of the things I’ve achieved or experienced in one year that I’m convinced would have taken me longer on my own, or might not have happened at all:
- Accepted as regular guest blogger at two websites including monthly posts, several published book reviews and author interviews including award winning novelists and NY Times Bestselling authors, published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, acceptance into Novel in a Year program at local studio, hired as correspondent for local newspaper, published flash fiction and personal essays, performed written piece for Live Lit event, selected to audition for Listen to Your Mother event
- Encouraged establishment of a professional online presence including tips on: website, business cards, treating myself to headshots, social media accounts, blogging, etc.
- Formulated a plan for conference/retreat/class attendance to improve my craft.
- Instrumental in creating a working cover for my first novel (and convincing me it was a novel)
- Established and tracked word count goals for WIP
- Introductions to other writing professionals in our area including award winning authors, playwrights, screenwriters, etc.
- Explanation of types of editing and assistance with recommendations and selection of editor for WIP
- Access to well-established platform for advertising my proofreading and editing services resulting in paid assignments
- Insight into what’s accepted/expected when pitching local editors resulting in several paid assignments and published clips
- Assisted in arranging book signing for Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology
- Invitation to participate in local author events as a speaker/presenter
- Established a revision group, provides recommendations and insight on local classes
- Sounding board for craft elements of projects in progress
Coaching has helped me keep my writing front and center all while traveling with a college athlete, working a full time job, and planning my daughter’s wedding.
How Much Does All This Cost?
If you search the internet you will find fees ranging from $100 to $150 per hour and an endless choice of “packages.” What’s important is your budget, comfort level, and your results. Trust your gut.
At a minimum, you should receive a free, no-pressure consultation and the flexibility to hold sessions in person, via skype, or by phone. Life gets hectic and flexibility is key. I prefer to pay as I go with no long-term commitment.
Don’t forget to check for certifications and references. The internet can tell you what certifying agencies are acceptable in your area.
What Do You Have to Lose?
If you’re stuck on a particular project or unsure how to get going at all, a free consultation could be the catalyst you need.
In my writing coach I have an advocate, a sympathetic ear, a well-established connection to the writing community, and an experienced publishing professional willing to provide guidance and critical feedback.
A reputable coach can be an invaluable resource. Mine asks tough questions and has challenged me to think bigger than I had the courage to do on my own.
Coaching might not be for everybody but I consider it time and money well-spent.
Share Your Experience or Questions
Have you ever used a coach or considered it? Why or why not? Have you had a good or bad experience you can share?