Coaching for Writers: Should You Hire a Writing Coach?
I want to preface this article by pointing out that I didn’t wake up one morning see something on YouTube and get cheesed off. I’ve been thinking about coaching cropping up in the writing world for quite some time. But, I wanted to get some distance before I discussed my thoughts.
As you’re about to discover, I’m passionate about coaching because, in 2015, I left my day job to work as a life coach. For me, the issue I have with this coaching for writers trend is an ethical one. I honestly believe you should get what you pay for and understand what coaching is and isn’t. This article is more than just a rant; it’s my honest thoughts and tips for you on how you can choose the right coach for you.
And, not every coach will be right for you. It’s like dating. That’s why coaches offer free sessions; it’s all about trying before you buy. As a coach, I feel obliged to point out to you that I might not be the right coach for you. If I believe that you and I aren’t a great fit, I will not sell you any coaching services, but instead, point you to another coach who I believe could help you.
A Disturbing Trend
Over the last twelve months, I’ve noticed a trend in the writing community where a bunch of authors are starting to offer coaching services. But, not all of these “coaching services” are created equal. Some of them are merely expensive online courses. I’m not saying these courses aren’t worth the price tag because I haven’t signed up and completed the courses. But, I’ve done enough research to know it’s not coaching. To help you make good purchasing decisions, I have three questions I want to pose to you and answer in this article. What is coaching? How can it help you as a writer? What should you look for in a coach or coaching services as a writer?
Being a great coach is not a question of qualifications because you can read all of the books and complete all of the coaching courses known to man, but still not be a great coach. Why? Because coaching is an action and therefore something, you need to learn through experience, although a course on coaching will give you an idea of the best coaching practices available.
What is Coaching?
A coach helps you get more out of your writing life. In essence, coaching helps close the gap between thought and action. But it isn’t a quick fix. It will take you some time to figure out what works for you in terms of your writing career. But at the end of each session, you should walk away, one step closer to achieving your goals knowing the next steps you need to take.
Coaching is provided either in person, over the phone, or via the internet using a platform like Skype. The services are either in a one to one or one to many formats. But, sometimes the worlds of coaching and consulting collide. Some coaches offer developmental editing, beta reading services, or online classes as a part of a package for a set number of sessions.
It’s More Than a Course
However, coaching is more than just a course. In short, if you have to pay extra to get one to one access to the instructor than all you’re buying a course. I realise that’s a bit harsh, but I’m tired of people dressing up a perfectly great product like an online course as coaching to justify the high price. There’s nothing wrong with an online course having a huge price tag.
I’ve purchased some expensive courses to help me with my businesses over the years, and they’ve been worth every penny, I paid. An online course is where you go at your own pace through a predetermined set of materials is not coaching.
An online coaching and consulting experience should allow you to hear the voice of the coach or instructor, see their face, and ask them questions in real time. A group coaching experience often takes the form of an online course, but the difference is you get on a weekly video or telephone call where you can ask the instructor questions, and chat with other people in the group.
How Does a Coach Help You to Achieve Your Writing Goals?
The role of a coach is not to give you all the answers. A coach is not an expert, and this is where coaching differs from consulting. A consultant, in essence, has the answers and gives them to you. Hiring a consultant means you’re limited to their knowledge and life experiences. Coaching does not have this limitation; you’re only limited by a coach’s curiosity and ability to ask thought-provoking questions. Coaches all share the same fundamental belief about human potential. In its purest form, a coach is a cheerleader, someone who sees your potential and believes in you and your ability to achieve your goals, even if you currently doubt your abilities.
It’s a coach’s job to listen actively without judgment, to question, to challenge, to inspire commitment and to enable you to see what you want to do and what action you need to take for you to move forward. The coach should guide you by listening and asking open questions which engage your awareness, creativity and motivation.
A coach does not have any attachment to outcome, unlike a stakeholder in your life, such as friends or family. A good coach should be very objective, but in the kindest possible way, have no invested interest in the goals you set, the decisions you make or the course you take, as long as they are the right decisions for you, and you are not submitting to the expectations of others. The only role a writing coach has is to make sure any action you take or decisions you make, are the right decision for you and enable you to move on and achieve your writing goals.
Accountability and Coaching
A coach will also hold you accountable for the decisions you make and the actions you commit to during the sessions. And, will challenge you and if you fail to take action, the coach will want to understand why; this isn’t just an excuse to kick your butt. This accountability aspect of the coaching relationship is to aid your understanding about why you aren’t moving forward, so the coach can help you overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. Coaching helps you walk away with all of the critical skills to continue in your writing journey long after your sessions are over. In any given session, as a client, you should feel like you are doing the majority of the talking and the coach should be actively listening, and asking thought-provoking questions and taking notes.
How Coaching Can Help You as a Writer
We don’t all live in a fantasy world where we wake up every morning and can’t wait to write. What can I say? I’m a realist. I don’t live in a Disney movie, and neither do you. Sometimes writing is a struggle. The truth is you won’t always feel like writing. When you’re stuck and can’t see a way forward, that’s when coaching can help. The key to overcoming these issues with resistance is creating habits and getting some accountability. And, that’s where coaching can help you as a writer.
Sometimes all you need is a friendly kick in the pants, and that’s what coaching can give you. But coaching isn’t always about tough love, sometimes you don’t know what to do next, and a great coach can help you find your path. In amongst all of this accountability, getting unstuck and finding your way, coaching, especially group coaching can help you feel a little less isolated; and help you connect with other like-minded individuals who are all in a similar place to you.
Is Coaching Right for You?
A lot of people who are looking for coaching tend to want to know whether a coach can get them the results they are after. While this is a good thing to be concerned about, a great coach can only help you achieve the results you are after if you are willing to do the work. To assess your commitment to achieving your goals, ask yourself the following two questions; fast-forward to ten years in the future, will you regret not achieving this? On a scale of one to ten, rate the level of regret you would feel? If you are committed to achieving results but don’t know where to start or would like the support of someone who believes you have what it takes to get the results you want, then coaching is a perfect fit for you.
What Should You Look for in Coaching Services as a Writer?
So, before you click that buy button or start searching for a writing coach, you need to figure out what you need from a coaching experience. Consider where are you struggling with your writing journey. Do you need accountability or someone to motivate you to finish your novel? Do you need someone to help you go from a story idea to a finished first draft? Are you looking for an editor to guide you through the process of rewriting your current work in progress? Each of these three coaching scenarios will provide you with different coaching experiences.
The next step is to look for writing coaches online and sign up to a few complimentary sessions to figure out whether the coach is right for you. And, that last step is essential. Avoid paying for coaching if you cannot get a complimentary session and try before you buy. Because coaching is relationship based and you need to figure out whether you and the coach are a great fit.
So, How Much Does Coaching Cost?
Coaching is billed on a per hour basis. So, if you strip coaching back to a simple one to one service where you have a weekly one to one session with a coach over Skype, minus all the other bells and whistles, then you should expect to pay $50.00 to $125.00 per hour. This price range does not include services like beta reading or developmental editing — coaching services from a Developmental Editor should cost more than $125.00 an hour. Over the years I’ve seen developmental editors charge $250.00 per month for a single session with editorial feedback. The price depends upon the coaches experience, the type of coaching, and any extra services offered.
I hope this helps you understand what is coaching, how it can help you as a writer, and help you decide whether coaching is right for you. Thank you for reading this long blog post, I really appreciate you reading, commenting, and sharing. Now, I’d love to hear from you. What is your take on coaching for writers? Have you undertaken writing coaching sessions? I would love to hear your story, share your story in the comments box below.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.