I’ve recently started with working with a writing coach
And I’ve found it so beneficial, I wanted to share the love.
If you’re like me, you may not know exactly what a writing coach does, how you would work with one, or how to tell if a coach is good fit. Join us Fridays for a series of interviews with writing coaches and their clients. Learn about the wide range of coaching styles, coaching goals, what a writing coach can do for your writing career—and what they can’t do. Who knows? Maybe you’ll decide it’s time to give yourself the gift of coaching, too!
For today’s guest, please offer a warm welcome to Sue Mitchell, whose website offers a wealth of creative information and inspiration. Read on to learn about her unique approach to coaching, creativity, and life!
How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?
Writing is usually a solitary activity, and that can sometimes result in a writer going around in circles in their head and not moving forward with their work. They may feel overwhelmed, procrastinate or worry that their work isn’t good enough. When writers feel this way, a coach can help them become more productive and rediscover their love of writing.
What sort of goals or skills do you work on with a client?
I help clients with goals like finding time to write, developing a regular writing practice, managing their inner critic, generating ideas or coping with the overwhelm of a large project or too many ideas.
What lies outside the client/coach relationship? (For ex., writing craft, critiques, organization, motivation, goals, psychology)
I do not critique my client’s work. Instead, I provide a safe place to question, experiment and make mistakes. I also do not provide instruction at this time. I am developing an online class on memoir writing, but I see that as a different role for me than coaching.
My style of coaching, which follows the Kaizen-Muse model, is a way of assisting the client to discover what works for them, elevating the importance of their creative work in their lives, and keeping them moving forward in the creative process, which can be a confusing, nonlinear path. I do offer information and suggestions on the creative process that are tailored specifically to writers, but the focus is not on improving the writer’s craft.
Tell me about the mechanics of a coaching relationship: how often you meet, the format, etc.
If I will be working with a client on an ongoing basis, I like to start off with four weekly sessions on the phone so we can become very familiar with each other and to provide very consistent support as new patterns of thought and action are established. We also communicate via email between sessions as much as needed. After the first month, clients may be ready to move on to less frequent meetings, often every other week.
I also offer what I call a “Project Tune-Up.” This is a quick jumpstart for someone who is stalled on the side of the road with their writing, so to speak. We do some fun assessments and then meet once on the phone for about an hour. We develop a plan for moving them forward and then follow up via email for the next four weeks to monitor and tweak as needed.
How can a writer get the most out of a coaching relationship?
The best approach is to view the relationship as a partnership. I don’t “fix” people or tell them what to do. What I do is help them realize their own resourcefulness, provide new perspectives and tools, and support them in designing actions that feel doable and fun. To get the most out of the coaching relationship, a writer should go into it knowing that only they can do the work, and they must be patient and open to experimentation.
Do you have a particular area of expertise, or something you bring to the client/coach relationship that other writing coaches might not?
My style of coaching is very different from most. I was trained in the Kaizen-Muse model by Jill Badonsky, author of The Awe-Manac and The Nine Modern Day Muses (and a Bodyguard) and Robert Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way.
The Kaizen-Muse model is all about small steps, compassion, sensitivity and working with the nonlinear and often rebellious nature of the creative process. The focus is less on the goals and accountability many coaching models emphasize and more on using joy, playfulness and compassion to motivate and work through blocks.
For many creative people, this approach results in more productivity than purely accountability-oriented approaches because it doesn’t trigger resistance and rebellion. In Kaizen-Muse, we focus on showing up and enjoying the process, which increases motivation and prevents self-sabotage.
Sue Mitchell is a certified Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach who helps writers and others involved in the creative process overcome procrastination, perfectionism, overwhelm and self-doubt so they can be more productive and enjoy their creative work. Visit her at www.YourMuseIsCalling.com to subscribe to Creative Juice, a series of fun, five-minute creativity prompts or download her Creative Block-Buster Checklist.
Don’t forget to check out previous interviews:
- The Writing Coach: Is One Right for You?
- Charlotte Rains Dixon, Writing Coach
- Kendra Levin, Writing Coach
- Cynthia Morris, Writing and Creativity Coach
Sue, I’m fascinated to learn about the Kaizen-Muse method (so much that I just ordered Maurer’s book!). I’d love to hear more about the difference between Kaisen-Muse coaching an other types of life coaching. Please chime in with questions, friends!