Last year, I started working with a writing coach. I know, how lame that I would need help, right? I’ve been writing my whole life. Or at least that’s what one person said when I told him. He didn’t believe that ‘real writers’ needed a coach. Well, I do. And I’m a real writer.
I was able to work out an arrangement that was beneficial to both of us, and I enjoy our weekly phone calls. It is a half hour each week. It’s a check-in, but it’s also a motivation. There is nothing like knowing that in a few days someone is going to be asking you how you did with your writing this week. My husband never asks me that. So this is nice.
There is also the question of ‘What would you like to focus on today?’ Sometimes the calls go off in a completely different direction than what I thought we would talk about. Sometimes I have no idea at all what I want to discus. But we always, always find something that is meaningful and helpful. This is because my coach is a professional coach, and she grabs on to little things that I gloss over. And sometimes, they are not such little things.
During my recent personal crisis, which comprised three different situations (any one of which would have been enough to deal with, thank you very much), my coach was invaluable. I was writing a lot, but it was mostly what I call grief poetry, which meant that most of it was just emotional outpouring. Not anything I’d care to share. But she helped me see the value in that. And the fact that maybe, someday, there might be a kernel of something, a little nugget of gold, in one of those pieces.
I spaced out at least two of our coaching sessions during the holidays due to rescheduling, but also because I was so out of my normal space that I simply forgot about them. But she didn’t guilt me about it. She didn’t accuse me of not being committed to my writing and not taking it seriously. She understood. And that was invaluable as well.
I have participated in coaching before, and this was not the case then. A coach is like any other relationship – you have to make sure it’s the right one for you. You have to have a connection, and above all, respect for each other’s work. I tell people this when they are looking for any professional to work with – a designer, a publicist or an editor. Some of these roles make it easier to overlook a bad fit. But they all benefit from a good fit.
And if you are a writer, and you think you might benefit from a prod now and then, consider getting yourself a writing coach. I know, lots of folks belong to writing groups. But for many reasons, this doesn’t work for everyone. I have never belonged to a writing group, and I think I finally figured out why.
Aside: I’m reading Quiet by Susan Cain right now, and in it, she writes about group dynamics for introverts. She explicitly discusses in chapter three why creatives may not work well in groups. Oh, this was music to my ears!
Maybe you just don’t know anyone with whom you could form a group. Maybe you live way out in the middle of nowhere, or have small children that make it difficult to commit to meetings. Don’t let this isolate you or make you feel as if you are not committed to your writing. If you can get a writing coach, that might work better for you than a writing group. Or it might be a good addition to belonging to a writing group. You will get a different kind of help from a writing coach. The point is that writing coaches are not just for elite writers. You are eligible.
But if you can’t do either, don’t dwell on it. Put it on your “someday” list and get your butt in the chair.
And just keep writing.
Further Resource: My writing coach is Rosanne Bane, author of Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance. You can find her at http://baneofyourresistance.com/ If you’d like to see further articles on this topic, let me know in the comments below. Questions? Concerns?