At any stage in your writing career, you can hit a point where you need inspiration, input, ideas, guidance and accountability that just aren’t coming on their own. You’re looking at the world of publication, marketing, and social media, and you’re wondering what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into.
You feel alone and frustrated.
You got the contract, but you’re stymied. Stuck. Mired down in the middle of your manuscript. Will you meet the deadline? Editorial input would help, but you still have to write entire chapters. It would be nice to talk through and generate ideas with a professional other than your agent or editor—someone you can bounce ideas off of, who understands how to work with a manuscript at the developmental level. For now, your friends listen patiently as you read to them portions of your work-in-progress over the phone.
Or you’re trying to organize your writing life and stick with a plan to reach your writing goals. You’re set on finishing a project and submitting your work, but you keep second-guessing yourself and getting sidetracked. You’d like to know if your writing has potential. And you could use accountability, but who’s going to hold you to it?
You’re Googling for answers—for solutions—about everything from finding an agent to writing a query, but you’re turning up a sea of ideas and recommendations, unsure what applies to your particular situation in your particular writing life.
If you keep going down this path, you’ll find answers. Eventually. Or you could take a smarter, more efficient path, with a friend to guide you.
Throughout my career as a professional writer (which spans 20+ years), I’ve taken both approaches, so I understand where you’re at. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the frustration.
The Slow-Going DIY Approach
After graduating from university as an English major with a Creative Writing emphasis, I headed out into the world, ready to write. My first job gave me experience with professional and creative writing assignments, and my supervisor went over everything I wrote with a literal red pen. He’d hand back a document covered in red ink, with entire sections slashed, phrases added, sentences shortened. Humiliated, I’d return to my desk and enter every change.
As I integrated his edits, I learned two powerful lessons: how to write tighter and cleaner, and how to receive edits and critique. That second lesson may have been the single best preparation for my future in publishing—to invite edits and critique without crumbling or responding defensively. Instead, I accepted the input and made the changes. Over time, as I consulted with style guides and copy editing resources to fine-tune my skills, my documents came back with fewer and fewer red marks. Working for a meticulous editor providing regular corrections gave me a solid foundation as a writer and editor.
In my mid-20s, I left that job and launched my freelance writing business. But writing and editing without any supervision or accountability left me feeling frustrated, longing for input and guidance specific to this new world I was navigating alone.
I attended conferences, joined a writing group, read books about writing, and slowly acquired knowledge and skills specific to the world of freelance writing. My process was inefficient, as I randomly sought out the information I thought I needed next. It involved zero strategy and a lot of guesswork. I eventually found what I needed on my own, but it took years to make progress and gain confidence.
Looking back, I can see how working with a coach in the early stages of my freelance career would have eased my mind and given me valuable input for developing and pursuing appropriate goals. That person could have addressed my specific writing problems and steered me in the right direction for my writing life.
Just as I developed tight, clear writing and editing skills with help from the supervisor at my first job right out of college, I would have gained confidence and progressed much faster with a writing coach in those early days of freelance writing. In fact, I probably would have found the right publishing homes for my work earlier and made more than enough money to cover that coaching investment.
A Better Approach – Informal Mentoring
After years of gaining bylines in magazines and writing feature stories for our city newspaper, balancing the work with parenting, I decided to write something longer, something lasting. In 1999 I wrote my first book and through a friend was able to submit my work to a publisher who saw potential in the project and in me. No longer alone, I was assigned an editor and marketing team.
Working directly with that editor, I learned to revise as she suggested how to reorganize content, expand on an idea, or hack off a chunk of my project that wasn’t working. I felt like I’d returned to the refining input of that first job, and I embraced it. This informal mentoring empowered me.
In 2008, I started writing my second book for another publishing house, and the editor provided specific input that helped me see more clearly how to improve my work. Both editors modeled how to approach a project with objectivity, always keeping the reader in mind.
I could do this, I thought. I could help writers improve their work. I maintained contact with these industry professionals and collected insider knowledge. By the time I completed my second book, I felt well positioned—even trained, informally—to structure books and marketing materials.
The timing was ideal. My book publishing training overlapped with digital publishing opportunities when I was hired in 2009 to join the editorial team of a large online organization. The managing editor invested in me, mentoring me over the course of several years.
With her coach-like input, I developed even stronger editorial skills and gained further insight into the publishing world just as it began changing in response to industry disruptions like print-on-demand technology and new distribution channels that made way for the rise of indie publishers and successful self-publishing.
I joined the editorial team of another organization, and my work with these two organizations gave me another gift: the joy of working closely with many writers who went on to publish successful books and become known as national speakers.
A Training Ground for Coaching
For five years, I also taught literature, composition, and creative writing to high school students, developing methods and a passion for igniting a love of words in people.
I learned the power of offering writers specific, encouraging feedback so they can see and celebrate their strengths, develop necessary skills, identify and break bad habits, grow more curious, and take creative risks. They called me their writing teacher, but I thought of myself as their coach.
In 2013, I co-led with Charity Singleton Craig an online workshop on the writing life. We created a space where participants began to consider their goals and the sustainability of their writing lives over the long haul. When the workshop ended, we turned that material into the book On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts, and led another workshop in 2015, investing in even more people.
My own commitment to personal development means I am continually learning about industry standards, methods, and changes; experimenting with a range of productivity and organizational tools to find what will best suit different personalities; taking training courses to add skills in technique and technology; reading and researching across writing genres; and maintaining and building relationships in the publishing world to hear straight from the source the kind of insider advice writers need to know. The more I learn, the more I can pass on to clients.
The Ideal Approach – Your Personal Writing Coach
Having suffered a gap in the early phases of my DIY writing life—and having the privilege of filling that gap for so many writers in recent years—I urge you to avoid floundering around, trying to figure things out on your own.
Invite a coach into your writing life.
We writers need people to invest in us, and that’s what a writing coach does. A coach will offer you knowledge and insights, a customized plan for your goals, and accountability when you set a schedule. A coach can help you identify and eliminate structural problems with your projects and grammatical glitches in your style.
Wouldn’t you love to move into your writing life with more confidence, with your questions answered, with a concrete plan that builds in accountability?
You can have that writing life. A writing group can offer some of that, though everyone else in the group comes with their own goals and needs, as well. Listening to podcasts can help provide input, though not necessarily specific to your needs on any given day. Hiring a coach will focus on you.
I would love to be your coach.
Investing in writers has become my passion. As your writing coach, I will work with you to identify and clear hurdles so you can move forward with confidence.
I leverage those decades of writing and editing experience in the publishing industry, along with years of mentoring I received, to invest in my clients so they can achieve their writing goals, personalizing a plan that addresses their particular issues and answers their particular questions.
No matter where you’re at in your writing journey, I can come alongside you as your personal writing coach, working one-on-one to help you make significant progress.
- facing writer’s block?
- unsure of the direction and structure of your current project?
- craving guidance in what to do next in your writing life?
- feeling stuck?
- hoping writing can be fun again?
- looking for feedback on drafts?
- confused by proposals and queries?
- wondering how writers and authors approach marketing?
- needing a platform, but overwhelmed by the thought of building one?
- concerned about voice, style, and grammar?
- focused on the work of writing so much, you’ve lost some of the joy of writing?
If so, you’re ready to invest in your writing life.
I understand all those struggles either from personal experience or from walking clients through them. Committed to your success, I coach you to overcome them, addressing each challenge, supplying you with strategies and systems, offering professional input, and accompanying you on this otherwise solitary journey.
Working with Me as Your Writing Coach
My clients have launched their freelance careers, refreshed their writing skills, started and maintained blogs, sent their work to national magazines (and gained bylines), developed and completed books, and worked with agents and publishers.
Depending on their specific needs and goals, some writers hire me to help with a one-time project; others contract with me for weeks at a time to tackle a bigger goal; and still others sign up for months, making a long-term investment in their writing lives.
With me on the other end of the line (Skype, Google Hangout, phone or email), you’ll have access to my editorial skills and relatable personality as we work one-on-one to solve your writing life problems. I edit carefully and laugh loudly, living a life full of wonder and curiosity. I marvel at the big picture and the tiny details. I’ll tap into all of that to offer specific feedback that can take your work to the next level.
Coaching is customized to each client, offering such benefits as:
- long-range and short-term planning based on your specific goals
- productivity and time management systems that work for you
- regular check-ins to determine immediate needs and generate solutions
- regular editorial input on your writing
- practical advice for maximizing your strengths and addressing your challenges
- lots of encouragement and honest input
- guidance for navigating the publishing industry
- social media strategies
- recommendations for ongoing professional development
- heightened curiosity and creativity to feed your work
- positive, upbeat guidance from someone who sees your potential
- suggestions for how to recapture the joy of writing
- ongoing nudges to keep you on track
You don’t need to be alone anymore. You don’t need to lose any more time signing up for programs that may or may not address your specific issues. You can start finishing the projects you start and prioritizing your writing life, feeling confident as your writing skills and industry understanding grow.
You can have fun and work hard. Both.
You might not even need me for long. After you finally the receive and integrate personalized input you’ve needed all this time, you’ll be able to head out with confidence on your own.
I believe you’ll achieve your writing goals—and have fun!—by being more curious, creative, and productive. Don’t you want to see what that looks like in your life?
Let’s find out.
Contact me using the form below to set up a time to chat.
Before long, you’ll see how working with a coach can fill the gaps in your writing life.
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