Thursday, June 21, 2018

Creative Writing Coaching - Do you need it?

Writing a novel is hard. Period. It is a lot of work with virtually no feedback during the process. While some people prefer the void when getting the words down, others need someone who has realistic understanding and expectations of where you are in the process. Sadly, as supportive as friends and family can be, they don't always know that a first draft isn't going to be a clean story.

This is where you might want to consider a writing coach.

What is Creative Writing Coaching?

Well, it's when you pay someone to encourage and advise you on your creative writing project. A good coach will be a sounding board, throw out some ideas for you to use or to launch from, show you the value of each step of the sometimes painfully slow writing process, and get you to keep going!

When do you need a writing coach?

You can use a coach when you first start, to help you learn the ropes and make sure you don't get discouraged by the whole, daunting process. You can also use a coach on your 50th novel to keep you on track, because we all need that at times.

While you usually want to get a writing coach in at the beginning of a project, in the idea stage, you can hire a writing coach at any time during the process. Be aware that a coach may require an additional fee or (paid) time to get caught up if you hire them halfway through.

What should you look for in a writing coach?

  1. Communication Style While a coach who is familiar with your genre is helpful, the point of a coach is to advise you on the more general writing process. So, it is more important to find someone whose communication style resonates with you.
  2. Experience in Format/Length You should look for someone who has experience writing the length of stories that you are working on. A short story plots and writes very differently than a novel. Many coaches have worked on writing various lengths of story, but you'll want to make sure the one you are looking at can do the format you need.
  3. Availability Be upfront with deadlines, and make sure the coach you are looking at hiring can work with that schedule. Rush jobs may warrant a rush surcharge to make up for the coach having to rearrange other aspects of their schedule.
  4. Accessibility This is how the writing coach plans on communicating with you. Most coaches use primarily text based communications, such as email, instant messaging (IM), etc. However, some coaches will also offer regular voice or video conferencing via phone, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. If you prefer to be able to speak to the coach, it may be a priority to find someone who can do that.
  5. Pricing A lot of factors go into pricing. A coach who is in high demand will likely charge more, as will a coach with years of experience. A coach who offers more in accessibility may charge more simply to cover the costs of any software needed to maintain that accessibility. While writing coaches, like editors, are an investment in your writing, you still need to find someone within your ability to pay them.

How do you find and hire a writing coach?

The best way to find a coach is by word of mouth. Ask your favorite editor or writer(s) if they know any. You can also ask around your writing groups, IRL or online.

Another way to find coaches is to google it. There are dozens of listings through writing journals, publishers, organizations, etc. The disadvantage here is that you don't know anything about them, and listings may be outdated.

Once you find someone, take the time to talk with them about their services. Pay attention to how quickly they get back to you, and how well they communicate with you. This is a good indication of how they will do the same while rendering services.

Lastly, don't forget to leave a review! As with authors, editors and writing coaches love having customers leave feedback, which they can use to promote their services. Even a few sentences is awesome! You can also ask if they offer any referral bonuses or discounts!

Good luck!