I’ve recently started with working with a writing coach, and that I’ve found it incredibly beneficial. Join me Fridays for a series interviews with the writing world’s best 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!
Just joining us? Don’t forget to check out previous posts!
- The Writing Coach: Is One Right for You?
- Charlotte Rains Dixon, Writing Coach
- Kendra Levin, Writing Coach
And now for this week’s fantabulous guest~
Meet Cynthia Morris, writer, coach, yogi, and dreamer. I had the opportunity to work with Cynthia in two separate writing workshops—one that paired writing exercises with yoga for an unforgettable experience—and her highly-recommended blogging class has been on my to-do list for longer than I care to admit. Hmm, maybe it’s time to take that leap and enjoy Cynthia’s inspiration and encouragement once again!
How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?
Anyone considering getting any kind of help should start with two questions:
- What am I focusing on and what do I need to achieve that?
- What specific help do I need?
Identifying your needs first will help you know what kind of support you need – editorial, accountability, craft and skills improvement, etc.
What sort of goals or skills do you work on with a client? What lies outside the client/coach relationship? (For example, writing craft, providing critiques, organization, motivation, goals, psychology)
I am a writer’s coach, and by that I mean I am coaching the writer, not the writing. A lot of ‘writing coaches’ are really editors, working on elements of writing craft and helping a client make their manuscript the best it can be.
I work with clients to help them find a writing practice that they can commit to over the long haul. Together, we clarify the client’s objectives and dig deep to find their intrinsic motivation This is highly personal and for each writer their motivation will be unique.
Then we work to develop a practice that works for them. What days, times, kind of focus does that person need to be able to do their work? This seems simple but can take some time to tweak.
On an ongoing basis, we work with inner and outer obstacles to success. The confidence and daring needed to be a writer or artist is huge, and I help my clients find their strengths to keep going.
The accountability is one of the main reasons someone hires a coach. Having commitments to another person makes it easier to do the difficult work.
We also have a lot of fun. I love brainstorming with clients and helping them see new, fresh associations for what they’re working on. For instance, I work with a lot of artists who need to write or blog for their work. They don’t see what’s interesting about their work and I help them develop a ton of ideas for their blog. They love this and it shifts something in them to be able to find topics to write about much more easily.
I work with writers at all phases of the writing journey. My classes and ebooks are great for beginning writers, and people who are ready to write and publish a book hire me one-one to get there more quickly and painlessly.
Tell me about the mechanics of a coaching relationship: how often you meet, the format, etc.
Most of my clients meet with me twice per month. People who have a specific project they’re working on (a book for instance) can often do just once a month. Once is great for people who just need a partner in their process and who don’t need to process the emotional challenges a lot.
I record our client calls and send them to the clients. This is really helpful because they don’t have to worry about capturing everything during the call.
When they listen to the call, they can benefit from hearing themselves speak – they can see where they sell themselves short. They can hear my questions and use those questions to train themselves to ask good questions when they’re stuck. So many of my clients tell me that when they’re stuck, they hear my voice asking a powerful question and it helps them move forward.
I tell my clients I’m their coach all the time, not just for our sessions. They send me reports throughout the week and I am able to coach them by email to make sure they are on track with what they want to achieve.
How can a writer get the most out of a coaching relationship?
Being willing to ask for help is a big challenge for many of us. Knowing what help you need, asking for it, and showing up for the coaching both focused and open will help a client get the most out of coaching.
Also, preparing for the call ahead of time is very helpful. I have a call prep form that my clients fill out. When they do this, it helps them see how much they’ve achieved and what next steps they need help with.
Do you have a particular area of expertise, or something you bring to the client/coach relationship that other writing coaches might not?
I can’t speak for other coaches, but one of the big things I am committed to is that I do not ask my clients to do anything I have not done myself. I am in the same boat with needing to blog well, to write guest posts, to push myself to make my writing as excellent as it can be, and to risk rejection.
I’m self-publishing my novel this year so I am taking myself through a process many future clients will be doing themselves. My first-hand experience with all of these phases of the writing life contributes to my empathy and understanding of what’s involved.
But I don’t assume my clients are like me – they’ll have their own experience. But I can come from a place of understanding that others may not. I use my coaching skills to help them discover their best path and approach, without assuming that it will be like mine.
I’m also a certified coach with one of the top coaching schools in the world. (The Coaches Training Institute) At the time of writing, I have been coaching writers for 13 years. I blend my coaching skills with my writing experience to bring a unique blend of skills to my clients.
I don’t know many people who have that training and experience under their belts who are working with writers. A lot of people call themselves coaches but are more likely doing consulting or editing work.
Cynthia Morris helps writers, artists and entrepreneurs make their creative dreams a powerful reality. A speaker, certified coach and author, Cynthia leads writing and creativity workshops in person and online through her company Original Impulse. Subscribe to Impulses, Cynthia’s newsletter for creatives since 2001, at http://www.originalimpulse.com
*”Best” as defined solely and completely by my opinion, which belongs to me, and is completely influence-able by chocolate :).