When I tell people what my job is, there is (in some circles) a reasonable amount of confusion. “So… you just talk to people about their writing?” people will ask.
It sounds so simple, but writing coaching is so much more than “just talking” about writing. Since I started training for this role back in September of 2016, I have come to understand that writing coaching is both a science and an art, and a process that almost any writer can benefit from.
What is a writing coach?
One of my greatest fears when I started working as a coach was imposter syndrome – if I haven’t got my shit together as a writer, why would anyone come to me for writing coaching?
But the thing is, my job really isn’t about being an “expert” or an “authority…” There’s this fundamental belief all of the coaches at Firefly share, which is the writer is the expert of their story. They are the person who best knows what their story is and what it needs. My role as a coach is to help them in discovering this expertise in themselves.
When a client walks into a coaching session to me, I’m there to travel this journey alongside them. What do we talk about? That’s driven by each individual writer. Maybe writing hasn’t been feeling as joyful as it used to. Maybe they just need to vent their frustration at building a coherent plot structure (a need that I can strongly identify with!) Or perhaps they’re just looking someone to walk with them, witness their journey, and to be there to celebrate their successes.
Being a writing coach is really the best job in the world – I get to spend my days working with writers who are committed and passionate about their work, and I get to nerd out about all those little details of theory and process and whatever else my clients might find useful. There’s also homemade vegan and gluten-free cookies, which believe me, is a pretty significant perk.
Who needs a writing coach?
The answer to this question is probably as varied as the writers who come through our door. Maybe they’re a writer stuck in a project. Maybe they’re not sure where to start. Maybe they don’t have anyone in their life to talk to about writing, or maybe they have too many people, and it’s difficult to separate the signal from the noise.
Writing coaching is for all kinds of writers: seasoned experts, to people just dipping their toes into creativity. It’s for poets, novelists, memoirists… even bloggers!
Having been a coaching client myself, I can say when I showed up to writing coaching what I wanted was accountability. Someone to help me stay on track and finish my novel. I got that through my coaching package, but I also got so much more. I began to think about my own process in a much deeper way, to explore how I wanted to share my work, to question the advice I had taken as sacrosanct but wasn’t necessarily working for me.
The process of coaching is about going deep; really, the only pre-requisite is that a writer is willing to show up and be open to this magical process.
How do I start working with a writing coach?
Does this pique your interest? If you’re at all curious about writing coaching, or if you’re interested in working with either myself or one of my amazing colleagues at Firefly Creative Writing – the best place to start is here. On our website you can learn a ton more about us, our approach to coaching, and what you can expect if you sign up for a package with us)
(NB: We’re based in Toronto, but due to the magic of the internet and Skype, we’re able to work with you remotely, wherever you may be!)
Or maybe you want to cast your net wider, see what other options there are out there for you? As you begin to consider whether coaching and whether now is the right time for you, these are some of the questions you might want to consider:
- What exactly are you looking for from the coaching process?
- Are you looking for advice geared towards publication? (There are coaches who focus more on this side of the equation)
- Are you looking for a coach who is especially strong in your genre?
- Are you looking for rigorous editing of your work? (Manuscript review or editing services might be a better fit for you)
- Are you ready to go deep into your writing process?
Knowing what you want will be a huge help in picking a writing coach – as with any relationship finding the right fit can have a huge impact on the success of the work you will do.
And if you’re curious but still not clear on what exactly writing coaching is all about, please ask a question in the comments! I’m here, and listening, and eager to do my best at answering your questions. I’m also planning to start a series of blogs on the lessons I’ve learned as a writing coach, so if there’s any topics you’d love to see my cover, send them my way!