Not sure how to begin writing a book? Not sure how to end it? Do you need help staying motivated to write after the initial excitement has dimmed? Would you like someone to help you identify your writing strengths and weaknesses?
It sounds like you need a writing coach.
Maybe you’ve never considered working with a writing coach, but doing so has many benefits. In this post, we’ll examine the benefits of working with a writing coach and how to find one that helps you meet your writing goals.
What is a Writing Coach?
Some of us can write, and others can explain how we write. A writing coach is a guide who can do the latter. Plus, they can help you improve the quality of your writing.
You may think that a writing coach sounds like an editor. Here’s how they’re different:
Writing Coach Vs. Editor
While it's true that they both help to develop your writing, a writing coach is not the same thing as an editor. An editor can help improve the structure of your written work. However, a writing coach can help you find your signature voice as a writer.
Editors typically focus on one manuscript at a time. An editor will help you make your content shine like a diamond, one manuscript at a time.
A writing coach takes a different approach. While they can work with an isolated manuscript, their guidance impacts the rest of your content.
In other words, a writing coach isn't limited in the scope of their advice. They can help you with any area of writing that you may need to improve, from coming up with ideas to finding your authentic voice within your prose to building unforgettable characters.
You can also hire a writing coach to help you develop a specific piece you've been working on, such as a novel. While the editor would identify areas for improvement after you've completed your work, a writing coach can help you while writing. The writing coach is in the trenches with you, often supporting you before you've completed your draft. Your editor comes later in the process and will help you get the book ready to sell to the general public. Your writing coach will prepare you to write your best.
A writing coach doesn't replace an editor and vice versa. However, hiring an editor is non-negotiable because your editor will ensure that your book is free of errors, such as typos or plot continuity errors. While writing coaches don't scrutinize every word of your draft or obsess over the occasional typo, your copy editor will notice. You pay them to do that when you ask for a copy edit. Editors are instrumental at every stage of the revision process, from helping you construct a big picture (i.e., the manuscript critique) to giving you an intensive edit that focuses on your story’s overall flow and clarity (i.e., comprehensive edit). You will always need an editor. But having a coach will help in different ways. Let’s discuss the benefits of doing so.
The Benefits of Hiring a Writing Coach
Why should you consider working with a writing coach? Here are some of the significant benefits you’ll gain.
Work With Someone Who Knows the Process
A writing coach understands the writing process from beginning to end. They will be a reliable resource to answer your writing questions. Many coaches are authors who’ve already been published and graduated from the school of hard knocks. They’ve already encountered the roadblocks ahead of you and can give you instructions on handling them or avoiding them altogether.
Get a Professional Assessment
It's one thing to get feedback on your work from your friends and family, but they're more likely to give you a pat on the back than offer any constructive criticism that will help you grow as a writer. It's not necessarily because they don't want to help you.
As well-intentioned as they may be, most folks don't understand the mechanics of writing and what makes one story sing and another story fall flat. They only know that they like it or they don't. If asked to judge a loved one’s work, their bias will prevent them from critiquing too harshly. Or, if they're a particular brand of toxic, they may go in the opposite direction and unfairly compare your freshman novel to that of the greats. Not useful.
Hiring a writing coach is helpful.
Writing coaches are professionals who may be writers but are certainly readers. They understand what works and what doesn’t from a professional perspective. Unlike your friends and family, they’re objective and can offer insight that your loved ones cannot.
Develop Your Innate Skills
A writing coach will help you develop what you already have. They’ll be able to give you specific construction criticism to improve your work and general advice to help you grow as a writer.
All writers have strengths and weaknesses. A good writing coach will help you identify the areas in which you excel so you understand the unique value you bring. A writing coach will also reveal your weaknesses and give you exercises, tips, and tricks to help you develop these limitations.
See Your Work From Someone Else's Perspective
You can't be objective in your work because you're too close. Either you will be too critical or too forgiving. You may think a passage lands when it doesn't.
Experiencing your writing from another person's perspective allows you to see how your audience will.
This outside perspective is a big reason to hire a writing coach. They will provide feedback on what’s working and what may need reworking. Your writing coach will be able to give you an outsider’s view.
Also, if you provide multiple pieces of content, they can see trends in your writing. Doing this allows them to identify the go-to crutches in your writing that may prevent you from evolving as a writer and disrupt the pattern. Whereas you’re accustomed to staying in your head, the writing coach will offer you a different perspective that you may not have considered before.
To be good at writing, you must do it regularly. You can’t wait for inspiration to strike first, or you’ll rarely write.
When hiring a writing coach, you commit to taking writing seriously. You’re also securing an accountability partner who will help you stay on track with your writing goals. For many writers, the only way to finish a book is with an accountability partner. But your coach can do much more than support you through your writing. They can also help you set a realistic schedule for meeting your writing goals.
How to Find a Writing Coach
Writing coaches come in all varieties—some specialize in particular genres, and others offer general help to any writer who needs it. Some work one-on-one, while others work in group settings. Perhaps you've stumbled across a workshop for writing better characters, sci-fi, or fill-in-the-blank. These workshops are typically hosted by writing coaches who will hopefully give you what you need to evolve as a writer.
You can also work with a writing coach that specializes in book coaching. A book coach often comes into play after you've completed your manuscript and are ready to enter the world of publication. With a book coach, you can get advice on finding a literary coach and score the best book deal possible. For example, they may help you write a book proposal that attracts a great literary agent in your genre.
If you hope to self-publish, they may provide even more help. A book coach can help you develop a marketing plan for getting your book out there and may even get you started establishing your author platform.
The type of coach you look for will depend on your writing goals. Don’t be afraid to work with multiple coaches to help you accomplish those goals.
To find a writing coach, consider the below tips.
Someone who specializes in your genre - If you need help developing your book, you benefit from genre-specific advice. Look for a writing coach who is familiar with and can provide insight into your chosen genre.
Someone who offers the help you're after - Determine your specific needs before reaching out to a coach for assistance. For example, you may need help pacing, plotting, or outlining. Know that ahead of time so you can get the most out of your time with a coach.
Someone you trust - Be sure to do your due diligence when searching for a writing coach. In your research, look for a writing coach who's worked with others. Check their testimonials, and don't be afraid to ask for references. Then, reach out to those references.
Someone with a lot of content - Any professional writing coach you find should have a website. That's mandatory today, but beyond a static site, they should also have blog posts and maybe even a book or two on the subject. They may have developed a course online that you can take as a precursor to working with them one on one. Sometimes, reading what they've already written can be enough to improve your writing dramatically.
Do you need a writing coach? Probably. Every writer can all benefit from a literary guide. Plus, we all know that writing isn’t easy. By working with a writing coach, you can get out of your own way, view your writing from a different perspective, and learn tips and tricks to improve. If you’re looking for that, consider hiring a writing coach.