On Working With a Writing Coach

Have you ever felt stuck in your writing career?

Like you’re doing the right things and still getting nowhere? Writing, blogging, going to conferences, submitting manuscripts, building an online platform…After a while, it’s easy to start feeling like a dog chasing its own tail! You spin round and round…

Taro the Shiba Inu1
…getting absolutely nowhere.

Looking Back

Kendra_headshot2013That’s where I was about two and a half years ago, when I started working with writing coach Kendra Levin.

Recently, I…graduated? Or whatever it’s called when your coach/mentor becomes a friend/fellow creative traveler. And since I began my coaching season by blogging about the experience, sharing some of my insights along the way, and interviewing writing/life coaches, it seems fitting to share the wrap-up as well.

The Beginning

I started working with Kendra because I was having a tough time finding balance between the demands of my personal life and my passion to create. I was having trouble holding onto creativity in the face of the unavoidable rejections writers face.

I was trying very, very hard to do things RIGHT (whatever that means) that I had no idea what I actually needed or wanted.

We began the coaching process with an Intro Questionnaire. I supplied information such as

  • Personal and professional strengths and weaknesses
  • Limitations and behavior patterns that might sabotage my attempts to change
  • Frustrations and worries
  • Goals

I answered the questions VERY thoroughly. In fact, I knew so much about what was wrong, the challenges I faced, and so on, that part of me wondered if I’d made the right choice. Why pay for coaching, I thought, when I already know everything? (Yeah, I have know-it-all moments…I’m working on it!)

It turns out that the value of working with a coach doesn’t so much lie in what you can tell them; the value is more what you can’t tell them. It turns out that writers are often blind to underlying assumptions and believe that sabotage our efforts.

Writers are often blind to underlying beliefs that sabotage their efforts. 

The Results

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but over the next few years, Kendra pointed out things I didn’t see, asked questions about assumptions I didn’t realize I was making, and challenged me when I dismissed things as “impossible.” I didn’t give up and Kendra didn’t give up on me. The results? A journey of self-discovery. For instance, I realized

  • Exactly how often I put my dreams on hold
  • How often I discounted my needs
  • How often I got sick…how sickness seemed to come whenever I got too carried away with the first two points
  • How I talked to myself–and the fact that no, I wouldn’t talk to anyone else that way

I began to discover what, exactly, I am passionate about.

I’d like to say that I’ve done away with all my bad habits. I’d also like to tell you that I now practice positive habits with near-perfect devotion.

But hopefully, you’d know was lying. No one gets to perfect, not even in two and a half years!

So why did I “graduate”? Because even when I’d face one of those HUGE IMPOSSIBLE CRISIS MOMENTS–the ones that used to derail me both personally and professionally–I found that I was working through the problem on my own, before our next Skype call. I had internalized the coaching process.

The Goal of Coaching

I like teasing Kendra that I’ve gained an “inner Kendra”: this little voice that pipes up when I’m too hard on myself or when I start to spiral into negativity. When I face a problem, it asks how I’m feeling and questions my assumptions. It reminds me to check in with my intuition.

The truth is, though, that this “inner Kendra” is actually my own inner voice, now empowered to speak up. That’s the goal of coaching. A coach isn’t just there to listen or even offer advice. A coach is there to teach you to coach yourself.

I have one more writing coach interview to share with you later this week. I hope to see you back then! :)

The hidden price of "productivity" every writer needs to know - www.cherylreif.com

You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]