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what does a writing coach do?

(4 min read.) What does a writing coach do? What does a writing coach NOT do? People sometimes come to my sessions confused about this, so I want to help you figure it out. Here’s what to expect from me as a private writing coach.

What Does a Writing Coach Do?

I’m basically a sports coach. But the sport is writing. The way you score (and win) is by writing something that matters to strangers. A champion gymnast works with their coach on technique, on training regimens, on executing moves with more strength and agility, and on mindset and stress management. Writing coaching is like that, but with less yelling. I’m really nice to you the whole time, although I do f*ckin’ swear a bit.

What I Do as a Writing Coach

I talk with people. I look at their writing. I ask a lot of questions.

What people tell me in our 1-hour sessions often has the answers they’ve been looking for, but didn’t know they knew. They didn’t know how to ask themselves for that information. They knew the answer, but not the question.

Sometimes the writer doesn’t know the answer. In those cases, I add context, resources, and guidance until we figure it out. I give feedback, gently challenge assumptions, and help writers connect more deeply with the internal compass they’ll follow on their own for their entire creative life.

I save people time by putting my 20 years of writing experience on their side. I help them learn new skills to make their work more meaningful to others. I also help them make their creative process more enjoyable and rewarding for themselves. Some people say I make things “easier” but also that they “work harder” after our meetings. I think that means they’re writing more often, but not hating it?

I read excerpts, rough and polished drafts, and outlines. Wherever the writer is in their process, I’m there with my toolkit. This separates me from a developmental editor who works on a fully finished draft. It also separates me from a writing class teacher who may have a specific deadline schedule or process that they expect a writer to meet.

As a writing coach, I meet you where you are.

If the page is blank, we figure out why and tackle the block. If the page is full, we look at the nuts-and-bolts of technique with line-by-line close readings and big story structure conversations. Sometimes we do skill-building exercises. We also tackle procrastination and confidence, work on sustainable habits for healthy creative productivity, and sometimes we map out career paths or identify good next steps for how and where a writer can share their work publicly and continue to grow.

Who Needs a Private Writing Coach?

There are three major categories of writers who seem to love working with me the most.

Writers who aren’t writing. I sometimes coach people who want to write and feel like they can’t get themselves to make it happen. Burned out or blocked writers; frustrated writers with stalled projects and blank pages. It’s an honor to coach people gently away from that struggle and back to themselves, because I’ve been there.

Writers with major goals. I love to coach someone through the course of a specific project (writing a play from zero to finished, turning their pile of notes into a book) because that’s an exciting time. People who are ready to grow can flourish more easily when they get substantive support. I once had a client tell me that my coaching helped them finish their big project because they knew I could see it before it fully existed. I believed in their vision, so they did, too.

People who aren’t sure they’re writers. Sometimes people will work with me because they remember enjoying writing as a hobby and want to try for just a little more. They want to see what they are capable of, like someone training for a marathon on the weekends. They know there’s growth here. They know there’s beauty here. They want to find out what they can do. I love watching people become astonished by how much their voice can mean to someone else.

Part of why I offer sliding scale prices is to encourage people to take the leap and find out what they can do. You don’t have to be a committed writer. Let’s just see what could happen if you gave yourself a chance.

What I Don’t Do as a Writing Coach

I won’t set you up with an agent or a manager. I won’t call someone to help you get published or produced or hired. I don’t make industry introductions to directly advance your career. I do occasionally play matchmaker between artistic peers (a director and a playwright, a writer and an illustrator) but I won’t connect you with someone in a hiring or gatekeeping position.

My clients do work with me on career advancement. I love sharing my skillset in strategic planning for artists. I will help you with your career. I will help you figure out what kind of writing career path can match your strengths. I will help you see your next steps and hit them with more confidence (and with better writing samples.) I will even hands-on help you prep your query letter or your spec script or your grant application. I might suggest a specific opportunity if I know of one that’s a good fit. But even if I know someone who’s reading those submissions or judging that contest, I won’t whisper your name to a friend and tell them to give you special attention.

This is partly a boundaries thing (my personal network is not for sale) but it’s mostly because it would get in the way of the coaching.

If I was in the business of making connections happen, people would come to our sessions trying to impress me so that I’ll hook them up. I don’t want to see people trying to wow me. I want to see them be honest with me about what’s hard, so we can build their strength. If they were trying to schmooze me for connections, it would get in the way of our work. It would get in the way of the writing.

Will a Writing Coach Make Me a Writer?

No. Only you can do that! Why not try? I hope you write a little something today.

xo, megan

Thanks for giving this a few minutes. I hope it felt supportive.

I’m a f*ckin’ friendly writing coach.

Let’s see what an hour with me can do for you. Get treated with honesty and respect. Bring your work-in-progress, your goals, or your frustrated blank page. Sliding scale; no ongoing commitment; just an hour to work on your writing. See me in a private zoom to put my 20+ years of experience on your side.

curious/confused?: what does a writing coach do (and not do)

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