Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Happens During a Writing Coach Appointment?

If you are interested in starting or polishing a writing project, you might find it helpful to work one-on-one with me as your writing coach.

If you’ve never worked with a writing coach before, here is an overview of what might happen during the appointment. Remember that this is a general guide, since every appointment is customized for the writer. The most successful appointments are those that are led by the client with specific questions and concerns.

As a writing coach, I am very much just that: A coach. By looking closely at the writing samples that you supply, I will pose questions and offer writing and even reading suggestions that will help you to develop your own voice and style in your writing. As I always say, if you finish our time together simply mimicking me, then I know that I haven’t done my job. This is about you.

What if you’ve never written a word before and don’t have writing samples? I’m happy to offer you prompts, resources and suggestions to help get those creative juices flowing onto the page. We can brainstorm together and then meet again to review the work you produced in response to the prompts. Of course, writing prompts can be slightly artificial ways to begin to write. You should always feel free to stray from the prompt. If the prompt brought you somewhere else, then it was a successful prompt. From the written responses, we’ll underline key words and ideas and work on ways to develop them further.

I book writing coach appointments by the hour. I spend the first part of the hour preparing for our meeting. I will read through the work that you’ve emailed to me and take notes. I prefer to receive the material 1-3 days ahead of our appointment so that I can read it more than once with some time in between. Depending on the density and level of your writing, I can usually read and make short notes on 1-10 pages in about 15-20 minutes total.

Then, we will meet (in-person, on the phone or via Skype) to discuss the material. This usually takes about 40 – 45 minutes. (If you prefer that I email you my responses, then it will take longer to type out my thoughts. I will ask for you to read through my comments and respond with questions, so that we can have a dialogue.)

During our conversation, I will first address what was done well before considering the piece as a whole and then move through the piece slowly, line by line in sections, to address both larger and smaller concerns. You are always encouraged to ask questions.

As a coach I will pose questions and comment upon sections that could be expanded or whittled down while considering the larger themes of the piece as a whole. If there are mechanical or craft issues, I will note patterns of difficulty and offer you resources to help you with your skills. I’m happy to offer you mini-lessons on various issues and suggest exercises that we can review the next time.

There is not much that I love more than writing (maybe food) and I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm and knowledge with my writing clients. I look forward to working together!

For more information, please see my Writing Coach page. Not ready for a one-on-one session? You might be more interested in a small, online writing class.

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