Should you hire a writing coach?

Jun 20, 2016 | Better Writing

Writing is a skill

Writing is a skill. That means that you can master it. And that means that coaching can help you get better faster. When I started out writing for money in the late 1960s, there weren’t any writing coaches, but there were editors who did the same thing.

John was one of my first editors. He reviewed the work I sent him and he thought that part of his job was helping me get better. That’s what a good coach should do. A good writing coach should tell you things you don’t want to hear, but need to hear.

Coaching is not teaching or training

Good writing coaches won’t give you a writing course. There are educational institutions for that. They won’t have a specific training program either.

That’s because coaching is about helping you develop your writing in the way that’s best for you. There are lots of ways to get the job done, but questions are always a big part of it.

Because every coaching challenge is unique, you need to choose a coach who’s right for you right now. Start by being specific about what you want to accomplish.

Get specific

You wouldn’t hire a plumber to repair your car. Choosing the right coach starts with getting specific about what you want.

Get specific about the writing you want to improve. Do you want to write better blog posts? Maybe you want to write a book. What kind? Do you want to do a better job of writing proposals or reports? Pick one thing to work on.

Get specific about why want to improve. Your coach needs to know what you want to achieve. He or she may help you change your goals later, but you need to show up with an idea of what you want.

Once you know what you want to accomplish you can start looking for a coach. A good coach should be able to do two things for you.

What your coach should be able to do

A good writing coach should be able to help you decide what to work on first. You’re surrounded by trees. A coach should be able to see the forest and help you decide where to put your efforts for maximum return.

A good writing coach should help you learn to judge your own work and plan improvement. A good coach will help you become more competent and independent.

Chemistry counts

Coaching is a very personal relationship. It doesn’t matter how good your coach is supposed to be if you finish every session angry or frustrated or defeated.

Pay attention to personal style. If your gut says a coach is a poor fit for you, disregard any messages from your head about credentials.

Every good coach will give you encouragement so you have energy to keep going. And every good coach will nudge you out of your comfort zone because you can’t get better without being uncomfortable. But every coach does those two things a little differently.