I shared yesterday that I’ve recently started with working with a writing coach, and that I’ve found it incredibly beneficial. Over the next few weeks, I will bring you interviews from a number of different writing coaches.
My goal: to help you, dear readers, understand what a writing coach does. And who knows? Maybe you’ll decide it’s time to give yourself the gift of coaching, too!
I’m delighted to introduce…Charlotte Rains Dixon!
I got to know Charlotte as a blogger, whose blog boasts the magnificent moniker Word Strumpet. Her blog is a delightful mix of inspiration, thought-provoking craft and process tips, and—of course—spunky enthusiasm. She’s perceptive and funny at the same time which, IMHO, is a perfect combination for dispensing nuggets of wisdom.
Plus she has the most magnificent tagline—fall in love with your writing, your life and yourself—it makes me smile every time I visit her site. I know she’ll make you smile, too! Enjoy…
Honestly? I think that all writers can benefit from working with a coach. I come out of the brief residency MFA system, wherein you are assigned a mentor with whom to work one on one. This is very similar to the coaching relationship, and when you have one person devoted to your writing as well as helping you make sure you get to the writing, magic can happen. But specific times that you might want to consider engaging a coach’s services are when you are blocked; when you are having a hard time getting your work out in the world; or when you feel like you are mired in the middle of a project and can’t seem to find your way out.
What sort of goals or skills do you work on with a client?
The beauty of the coaching relationship is that it is completely directed by the client. I don’t come in and impose goals, I follow the lead of the client. That being said, I will obviously make suggestions about which of your skills need sharpening and so forth. We may work on techniques to get you writing more regularly, or specific areas that need improvement in your writing, or, and this is what happens most often, both.
What lies outside the client/coach relationship? (For example, writing craft, providing critiques, organization, motivation, goals, psychology)
None of the above. Everything you mention is part of the coaching relationship. I believe strongly, that as goes our writing, so goes our life. If you’re writing regularly, the rest of your life could be falling apart and on some level you’d be happy, because you’re writing. And this level of happiness carries you through everything else. So, to me, writing bears on everything and all these aspects need to be addressed.
Tell me about the mechanics of a coaching relationship: how often you meet, the format, etc.
I do most of my coaching over the phone. Generally, we talk once a week for 30 minutes about how the writing is going, any hiccups that might have occurred, making sure that writing is getting done. And then I also read a certain number of pages a week. Sometimes people like to send pages by the month, it just depends. I also offer complete email access to me throughout the time we work together.
How can a writer get the most out of a coaching relationship?
By being coachable. By this I mean a willingness to be open and try the things your coach suggests, and to do the homework and experiment with new ideas in your writing.
Do you have a particular area of expertise, or something you bring to the client/coach relationship that other writing coaches might not?
What I bring to the relationship is a hugely varied experience in writing. I’ve freelanced articles, both online and off, I’ve ghostwritten, blogged, coached and taught creative writing. I still actively do all those things. So if someone really wants to write a novel but also wants to figure out how to support herself writing while doing so, I can help.
Thanks so much for this interview, Cheryl, I enjoyed answering your great questions!
Charlotte Rains Dixon~
I am, above all else, a writer.
Writing has been my constant companion and best friend since I was a little girl, when I spent hours composing poetry and drawing pictures to illustrate it. The writing stuck, the drawing, not so much, maybe because I’ve never been very good at it (unlike my sisters). I still have possession of a diary I wrote in the second grade, wherein every entry begins with the words "Hi Cat!" (We had a lot of cats at our house when I was growing up, beginning with the one my father found abandoned at a laundromat he owned.)
When I wasn’t writing, I was reading, inhaling book after book. I don’t remember any specific moment when I decided to become a writer. It was one of those things that I just understood about myself—that one day I’d grow up to be a writer. Which I did.