Working With a Writing Coach: a Client’s Perspective

Welcome to our ongoing writing coach series.

Today, I have something different to bring you: a tale of working with writing coach Cynthia Morris (interviewed earlier this month), from a client’s perspective. I hope you enjoy meeting the lovely Beth Gainer as much as I have, and that her story inspires you to follow your dreams.

Being Coached by Cynthia Morris—from Beth L. Gainer

Beth Gainer Two years ago, I called writing coach Cynthia Morris, whom a friend highly recommended. Although I was a seasoned writer, I was scared to make that call, for I had no idea what it was like to be coached.

But I knew I needed help.

The book I wanted to write would help others. A breast cancer survivor with extensive exposure to the medical system, I wanted to write a book to help others learn how to handle a complicated, often-uncaring healthcare system. I had already written posts on this topic on my Calling the Shots blog.

But I had no idea of how to write a book. I published many articles and other short pieces, but creating a longer work frightened me.

So I made the call that changed my life.

Cynthia believed in my book’s concept and in me; she was enthusiastic about my putting this book out into the world. Sensing I was highly motivated to accomplish this daunting project, she agreed to coach me. And I hired her because she believed in my concept – and me – right away.

But I had external and internal obstacles that seemed impossible to overcome. Externally, I had many responsibilities to juggle. Besides having a challenging career, I was a new, single mother. How was I going to find the time to write a book? Internally, I was plagued with fears of failure and a lack of confidence that I could accomplish my goal.

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Brook Blander, Literary Coach

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 Brook Blander…

BB2011-5 - Version 2How can a writer decide if working with a coach would benefit them?

I suggest trying this simple exercise. Make two lists. First, make a list of your writing goals (i.e. complete your novel, run a successful blog, etc.). Then, list your writer needs that will aid in achieving the goals (discipline, establishing a writing schedule, generating ideas, etc.). Is this list dominated by your personal strengths or is it weighed down by challenges? If the latter, it’s time to consider bringing in a coach to help in reaching your writing goals.

Working with a coach can benefit any writer, regardless of their experience with writing. Goal setting, accountability, encouragement are all benefits that coaching has to offer. If you are at a point in your writing/journaling experience that you feel you could use a bit more help with any of these tools, along with the bonus of having a listening ear, a non-judgmental perspective, and a motivating companion in the journey, you’re ready for a writing coach.

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)

One of my top priorities with my clients is self-care. Although they may have come to me to write a book or learn to journal in new ways, taking care of themselves mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually are essential. From there, we work on writing life (creating/establishing a writing space, routine, rituals, etc). I work with my clients to developing a complete support system of people, journaling exercises, affirmations, and even eating and exercise tips, when needed, to ensure they are operating at their optimal level to bring forth their best writing.

Tell me about the mechanics of a coaching relationship: how often you meet, the format, etc.

The majority of my coaching clients meet with me weekly. Monthly, bi-weekly, and weekly coaching sessions are offered. We also utilize e-coaching (email coaching) between sessions.

I use various resources to conduct coaching sessions to accommodate the range of comfort for my clients. Coaching sessions are held via phone or online meeting services using webcams.

All sessions are recorded with the permission of the client. This frees the client to be completely present during their session, knowing they will be able to listen to the recording at a later time to take notes, jot their weekly assignments, etc.

How can a writer get the most out of a coaching relationship?

By being and remaining open throughout the entire coaching and writing/journaling process. When a writer is open to receiving coaching recommendations, receiving the lessons which accompany their successes and challenges, then they are able to ingest every bit of the coaching experience. Coaching is about discoveries and enlightenment, about finding what works and what maintains their motivation to move forward – and even knowing when to sit and simmer.

Do you have a particular area of expertise, or something you bring to the client/coach relationship that other writing coaches might not?

I place a strong emphasis on journaling and self-care. The process of writing is going to be what it is and it varies as our personalities vary, but the growth as a person, outside of writing, happens most in the journaling and during self-care which is nurtured throughout the process. While writing, we discover so many things about our characters, about the places we set our stories, and even about the relationships between our characters.  However,  through journaling, we find the gems harbored within which tell about who we are as a person, a human, a soul – these revelations push us to a new level in which we will continue to write book after book from this elevated plane of self-knowing.

Journaling has been a part of my life since I was five years old and, ironically, I began writing fiction at the same age. As an only child and enduring a difficult childhood, journaling became a refuge for me, and it still is. It was, also, a catalyst for my escapes into creativity. I soon learned one feeds the other (journaling and writing), and it has been my writing process throughout all of my works. I believe it is my knowledge and experiences as an avid journal keeper, published author, and a publisher offer a perspective to my coaching style that best serves my clients.

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Five time author and poet, Brook Blander has been coaching writers and journal lovers to find their voice and healing through the power of creative writing and journaling for over a decade. Visit her at her website or follow her on Twitter for more creative inspiration!

Her passion for writing and helping others led her to begin work as writing coach and publishing consultant. She is the founder and owner of ebonyLotus Literary Coaching and Publishing Services.

Blander facilitates workshops online and in person throughout the US. She devotes much of her time to raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence against women and holds journaling workshops for victims and their families.

Don’t forget to check out previous interviews:

Brook, it’s so cool that you work with writers on self-care. It’s not the first thing I think of when I think of a writing coach, and yet figuring out how to lead a (somewhat) balanced life seems to be critical to my own writing process. I’d love to hear more about that!

Friends and visitors, please chime in with questions and thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!

Sue Mitchell, Writing and Creativity Coach

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!

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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.

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Cynthia Morris, Writing and Creativity Coach

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!

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!

cmorris

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:

  1. What am I focusing on and what do I need to achieve that?
  2. 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.

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