Can a writing coach help you?
What hiring one can do for your career, and how to find the right match
Published: August 31, 2011
|The writing process may seem effortless to our readers, but writers know that writing involves more than simply getting our thoughts on paper. After all, if it were easy, you wouldn’t have a novel collecting dust in your drawer or a 10-month-old essay still incomplete on your computer. |
In fact, a lot goes on both intellectually and psychologically when you sit down to write. Creativity coach Robert Ressler says his clients commonly deal with inner conflict about the writing that they’re doing or their aspirations to write. They have their “dreams and desire on the one hand” and “inhibition or confusion on how to fulfill those desires on the other,” he says.
One task coaches assist with is stripping away fear that a client’s writing is not good enough or that she will be laughed at or ridiculed for her creative endeavors. Ressler’s theory is that uncovering fears when you write will motivate you to pursue your goals, unleash your creativity, and help you confront self-sabotaging thoughts that negatively—and sometimes unconsciously—impact your writing.
Writing coach Marla Beck says coaches can help writers provide structure, advice and accountability in their busy lives—whether they are freelancing full time or moonlighting in their spare time. She also suggests that it’s important to define your goals and look at the big picture. For example, what about that short story or memoir you’ve always wanted to write, but never seem to have time to finish?
So should you seek out a writing coach? If you’ve been unable to complete a project or have been feeling burned out or unhappy about your writing situation, you may want to consider coaching. Ressler adds that feeling “persistently or repeatedly inhibited” as well as “procrastinating, being easily distracted or not taking opportunities” are also reasons to consult a coach.
“My view is if you have the money and the ambition to become a professional writer, you need to invest in having a writing coach from the start. If athletes and artists hire a coach, why can’t writers have the same privilege?” says Prime Sarmiento, a coaching client and a journalist for more than 10 years.
Ready to start your hunt for the perfect coach? You might be inclined to do a quick Internet search, but you may be better off checking in with a friend. Find out if any of your creative colleagues and writer pals have successfully sought the support of a coach and can recommend someone to you.
Ressler also suggests taking advantage of initial consultations “without committing to something very extensive or expensive.” Make sure to ask a lot of questions and trust your gut feelings about a coach’s answers. During a phone call or in-person meeting, try to assess the relationship to see if he has the potential to support you and your journey as a writer. “I think there is a lot of personal chemistry involved, and people should trust their instincts in choosing someone to work with,” Ressler says.
Although you may have to invest money, time to find the right coach, and energy to buckle down in front of your computer, working with the right person could do wonders for you and your career. “There’s something about paying a coach and investing in a career that helps you take yourself more seriously and show up for the new work. It’s serious stuff, but also fun work,” Beck says.
Brandi-Ann Uyemura is an associate editor for Psych Central and a freelance copywriter, blogger and features writer.