What is a Writing Coach? [And Do You Need One?]
Let's be honest, writing can be difficult. And that's probably why you've heard of writing coaches. These people can help you improve your skills as a writer and make progress on your writing project—whether it be a nonfiction book, a novel, or business writing.
This article will all your questions about writing coaches. It will also help you figure out if you need one and how to find one.
What is a Writing Coach?
A writing coach is a trained professional who helps you improve your writing skills and complete a writing project such as a book. While there are many types of writing a writing coach can help you with, most writing coaches concentrate on one in particular.
To understand what a writing coach is, it’s important to understand what coaching is in the first place. According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), "Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."
Because they're similar professions, it's easy to confound coaching, mentoring, and consulting. While consultants provide clients with answers and resources, coaches seek to help clients find the answers and resources within themselves. Mentors, meanwhile, pass down their personal experiences through a more personal relationship.
If you're looking to write a book, know that coaching, consulting, and mentoring are all viable options based on where you are. For instance, if you lack confidence in your writing skills and ideas, a writing coach can help you work through these mental hurdles and get your creative juices flowing.
If you consider yourself a competent writer but are new to book writing, you may want to work with a consultant. At Trivium Writing, we've worked with writers already accomplished in other fields who needed a hand in understanding the book writing/publishing process.
But no matter how competent and confident you grow as a writer, you'll always need a mentor. Thankfully, mentorship comes in different shapes and forms. You can receive mentorship from a writer you know, trust, and like for free. You can also receive mentorship through coaching.
Writing Coach vs. Editor
Writing coaches are not editors. Editors point out grammatical errors and typos, but they don't help you improve the overall quality of your writing. A writing coach helps you with your mindset, process, and skills.
To reiterate, writing coaches are professionals who help writers improve their writing process. They also keep writers motivated and accountable for the goals they've set for themselves.
A writing coach can help you with many aspects of the writing process, including:
- beating imposter syndrome
- brainstorming ideas
- creating the perfect book structure
- overcoming procrastination and writer's block
If you're not sure whether or not you need a writing coach, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I struggle with getting started on writing projects?
- Do I have trouble staying focused when I write?
- Do I feel like my writing could be better, but I don't know how to improve it?
- Do I procrastinate on my writing and often find myself out of inspiration?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then writing coaching could be beneficial for you. Through conversations and exercises, your coach will change the way you think about writing and about your process.
What Does a Writing Coach Do?
While most writing coaches work with you one-on-one, some offer group programs where you'll learn from other people's journeys as well. But regardless of whether you choose to work with a coach one-on-one or in a group, you should expect the following from your writing coach:
- assess your writing skills and help you improve them by critiquing your work
- craft a writing strategy by looking at your schedule and your goals
- keep you accountable for your goals by providing continued communication
Your writing coach may also offer editing and publishing services as we do at Trivium Writing. But these services differ from writing coaching. If you find a writing coach who is also a good editor, it's worth having them polish your work because they'll already be familiar with your style and work.
What is the main difference between writing coaching and editing? Writing coaching is done with you, and editing is done for you. While not every writer needs to work with a writing coach on every project, every writer should work with an editor one hundred percent of the time.
Put another way, writing coaching prepares the writer for writing, while editing prepares the text for publication. Even the world's best writers need thorough editing. Without it, the text is almost guaranteed to have some mistakes, typos, or inconsistencies.
How to Find a Writing Coach
If you're ready to find a writing coach, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Look for someone knowledgeable about the type of writing you do. If you write fiction, find a coach who specializes in fiction writing. If you write nonfiction, find a coach who focuses on nonfiction.
- Make sure that the coach you choose is someone you feel comfortable working with. You should be able to communicate openly and honestly with your coach so that they can help you meet your writing goals.
If you're unsure where to start looking for a writing coach, try asking your friends or colleagues if they know anyone who could help you. You can also search online for writing coaches in your area (though you can work with your writing coach remotely). Social media are a great place to start!
Once you've found a few potential coaches, set up a consultation so you can get to know them and see if they're a good fit for you. The initial conversation allows you to discover the coach's process and ask about their past successes.
Which Credentials Do Professional Writing Coaches Have?
While credentials impact a writing coach's ability to produce results, they're not everything. A writing coach with fewer credentials can produce better results for clients and be a better fit for you. Their track record is what matters.
In your search for a writing coach, you should look for someone who:
- is experienced coaching writers. Look at their past clients and the work they have produced. Ask to see testimonials from past clients to assess whether they're the right coach for you.
- is knowledgeable about the type of writing you do. If you write fiction, find a coach who specializes in fiction writing
- is certified by a reputable organization (this could be a university, a coaching institute, or another reputable program)
- makes you feel comfortable and communicates openly and honestly throughout the entirety of the process
Keep these in mind, and you'll soon be well on your way to finding a writing coach who can help you improve your writing skills. Also, keep in mind that you should ideally hire someone who is part of your target audience. If you write a business book, hire a coach who actually enjoys business books.
Why Hire a Writing Coach?
There are many benefits to hiring a writing coach. Writing is no easy task, and honing your skills and process can be long and difficult if you do it alone. A writing coach can help you:
- Develop and improve your writing skills
- Stay focused and motivated
- Overcome writing challenges
- Produce your best work
Trivium Writing offers quality writing coaching as well as professional editing service for nonfiction authors.
To learn more about our services and track record, book a free call.
Article by Leandre Larouche
Leandre Larouche is a writer, coach, and the founder of Trivium Writing.