The Role of a Writing Coach

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Do you have a desire to write, but perhaps you find yourself frustrated by an inability to develop or organize your writing, or perhaps you’re getting bogged down in the process? Maybe a writing coach can help you. This post discusses what a writing coach can do for you.

What is a writing coach? He or she does not necessarily edit your work, though the writing coach may also be an editor (and/or a writer) by trade. He or she is not a ghostwriter. A writing coach is a guide, and in most other endeavors, the best point in a journey to hire a guide is at or near the beginning, although you’re likely to benefit from a writing coach’s assistance starting at any stage of the writing process.

The relationship between a writing coach and a writer generally begins with a face-to-face or phone interview in which the writing coach asks the writer about the project, what the writer hopes to accomplish with it, and what’s holding the writer back.

A writing coach then helps the writer organize his or her project, determine a schedule, and select a completion date as a goal. The writing coach discusses the stages of a writing project, including an initial outline, preliminary research, a revised outline, more extensive research (and, if necessary, interviews), another revised outline, and various drafts, followed by the editorial process (developmental or substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading).

A writing coach helps the writer develop a clear and compelling premise or plot, determine a tone, style, and voice based on the intended audience, and produce a coherent, captivating narrative, whether fiction or nonfiction.

A writing coach can help a professional share expertise, a business owner sell a product, an academic report on research, or a student complete an application or course essay. He or she will benefit poets, short story writers, and novelists, as well as authors of nonfiction works, including articles, reports, and book manuscripts.

A writing coach helps elicit the writer’s experience and expertise, guides the writer to develop a creative, productive spatial and temporal environment, and trains the writer to craft effective prose. He or she helps the writer find the heart of the content, what works and what needs work, how to carry out research and conduct interviews, and how to frame and organize the material (and what to include and what to leave out).

A writing coach helps the writer focus, provides an objective perspective, and guides and encourages. A writing coach is like a personal trainer for a writer. A writing coach is a mentor.

Writing coaches are likely to charge writers more per hour for their services, but their role is ultimately less costly than that of a developmental editor or copy editor, or even a proofreader. A writer may consult with a writing coach for only a few hours in all, but even if this stage in the writing process takes longer, it is probably well worth the expense — you’re virtually guaranteed to benefit from the relationship, and to get that much closer to completion of the project and eventual publication.

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2 thoughts on “The Role of a Writing Coach”

  1. I never ever thought about the writing coach like you. After finish writing I use to check the full story again and then my friend John helps me to check it for next. It’s just close enough with you. Very nice tips.

  2. Hi Mark, I’m a little confused about the distinction between your definition of a writing coach and a ghost writer or developmental editor.

    A good developmental/structural editor should be doing a lot of what you describe – starting with an interview, helping the writer organise the project, setting a schedule for edits and revisions. Meanwhile, a ghost writer would be interviewing, workshopping, creating the outline and doing research.

    This leaves me wondering, if an author is going to work with a ghost writer (if they don’t want to write the book) or an editor (if they write the book) anyway, then what’s the benefit of having a writing coach as well? Is it just support and accountability through the writing process?

    Keen to hear your thoughts!

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