Monday, October 21, 2019

Get the Most of Writing Coaching

by Karen Whiting @KarenHWhiting

When you feel stuck or want to get to the next level in your writing/publishing consider using a coach. Many coaches have specialties in what they do best. The coach’s job is to help you move forward and overcome obstacles that keep you from improving and reaching goals. Coaches don’t make you a best seller. They guide you to where you want to get next. That means you need to identify your needs and goals.

First step: Know Your Needs and Desires
List a few goals and struggles as well as desired outcomes with a coach. In writing it might be to learn to do your own editing, go from telling to showing, switch from passive to active writing, make your writing more relatable and less academic, or organize your writing. In marketing it might be to increase social media engagement or become successful at securing media interviews. For each desired outcome there’s also the goal to learn to do it yourself in the future. You are not getting an edit but being guided on how to make the changes yourself. 

Second Step
Find the right coach. Ask for recommendations, meet with a coach at a conference, or find one online and ask questions. Discover the coach’s strong points to see if that’s a match to your needs. I’m a coach but I write nonfiction and I’m not your best match for coaching fiction writing. I am a good match in marketing, organizing a book, nonfiction writing, and time management. 

When you narrow down your search to a few, check out what those coaches have written and articles of blog posts in their field of coaching. You might even find your answers in the material they published. Choose one who teaches or writes in a way that’s easy for you to understand and apply. Once you choose one, agree upon pricing, times, and expectations.

You have a coach, now what?
Share your top needs and expectations. Listen to the coach who might agree or might ask a few questions to see if there’s another area that needs guidance first.

Set up a plan for where you and your coach start and be open to listening and applying ideas. Some of the answers of what to do next come as you respond to the coach’s questions and others may come from techniques the coach shares.

Example 1: You want to make your writing more active. Your coach might share a few techniques to make writing more active and even use your writing as an example. Then the coach will ask you to find the next passive sentence and change it. The homework before another session might be to transform a few pages of your manuscript to more active writing. At this point the client (you) might say, “I’ve got it, let’s move on to my next problem.” Or the client might want more guidance in that area.

Example 2: You want to organize your writing. The coach will probably you to state your book’s focus. and most important talking points. Then the coach might look at one talking point at a time and ask what topics fit under that talking point. The coach might also question whether a topic belongs in the book or how it fits the focus. You’ll start progressing and organizing in response to the questions. With such guidance, the book will take shape.

How Long Will You Be Coached?
The simple answer is as long as you need it. If you meet your goal and feel confident thank the coach and let him or her know you are ready to do it on your own. This might take one session, three, or numerous sessions depending on your experience and what you want to learn.

Be ready to discover you might need more or less help than you thought. You might have a proposal and want a coach to help you get it to a more stellar level and discover the focus and book description don’t really match up to the table of contents or that you need to build more into the marketing section. That may mean a few more sessions, but it will make the book better and easier to market.

What If It Isn’t Working?
Be honest and let the coach know when you’re not satisfied. You and your coach might talk and discover you did not have the same goals in mind or that you are not really the best match. If needed, part ways with honestly, stating you are not improving and need to end the coaching.

Discuss frustrations. I noted one client’s frustration, so I asked a few other questions and realized her stated need did not reflect her real need. I changed direction and she expressed amazement that I could help her so much. She came back when she wanted help with another book idea. 

The coach usually sends a summary of the session. Make sure these are clear and also a good tool to continue moving forward. Respond with comments of what worked and what else you need or your next goal. Good communication is key to success.


Karen Whiting ( is an international speaker, former television host of Puppets on Parade, certified writing and marketing coach, and award-winning author of twenty-six books for women, children, and families. Her newest book, 52 Weekly Devotions for Families Called to Serve, uses stories, activities, and chat prompts to help families develop servant hearts and foster strong bonds in families who have members serving the community, nation, or world.

She has a heart to grow tomorrow’s wholesome families today. She has written more than seven hundred articles for more than sixty publications and loves to let creativity splash over the pages of what she writes. She writes for Leading Hearts and Connect with Karen on Twitter @KarenHWhiting, Pinterest KarenWhiting, and FB KarenHWhiting


  1. Informative post, Karen. Thanks!

  2. What does a writer do when their writing coach becomes a dear and precious friend? When they have achieved "family" status in your heart and mind. Can they still be effective as a writing coach? Absolutely! I love my "big sister" who I call "Coach." When you can trust your writing coach with your heart and your deepest thoughts and fears, then you are where God wants you to be.

  3. Thank you for your clear and detailed instructions and examples ... I appreciate your help. :)

  4. Karen is an amazing Coach! She has challenged me and help build my confidence to the point that I can now say I am a published Author and Illustrator.
    She is a genious at marketing as well. I highly recommend her to anyone who needs a boost figuring out how to "Get Published."