In February of 2021, I started my first novel. I had no previous experience on how to write a book, and I had no idea what a great story consisted of. As a reader, I knew what made a great book great, but I had no idea as a writer. So what did I do? I turned to the internet seeking the answer.
That was a colossal mistake. Not because the internet isn’t filled with information, but because it is filled with TOO much information. For every article I found saying, “Do this, not that,” I found one saying, “Do that, not this.” What should I believe? What was right? What should I do?
With the road forking off in so many directions, I didn’t know which way to go. To help, I joined online communities, but I ran into the same issue––for every person who said, “You should never…”, I found someone who said, “You should always…” Talk about overwhelming!
The Completed Product
I tried to quiet the discourse in my mind as the words poured onto the pages. Three months later, with a completed my manuscript at 116,000 words, I asked, “now what?” I turned to the internet again, running into the same problem; contradictory voices. While falling down the rabbit hole of advice, someone mentioned checking out a certain writing coach. I thought, “Writing coach? What’s that?” Onto the next deep dive on the interweb.
I researched everything and anything about what a writing coach is, what one does, and do I even need to hire one. It seemed silly. It seemed unnecessary. It seemed excessive. But then, a very wise person (my partner…shhh…don’t tell him I called him wise) said, “Why is it silly? Don’t all the greatest athletes have coaches?”
Hmmm. Valid point. He continued, “Tom Brady has a quarterback coach. Michael Phelps has a swim coach. Serena Williams has a tennis coach. Why wouldn’t you hire a writing coach?” I hate it when he’s right, but he was right. Even the best of the best have coaches, so why shouldn’t I?
Enter the Writing Coach
I dove headfirst into the black hole of writing coaches, scrutinizing dozens of them. What did they offer? How many clients did they take on? How much did they cost? How did their clients fair in terms of successful paths? Webpage after webpage, I read their schtick and schpiel. And then I found one who stood out. I don’t know what it was about her, but my gut shouted, “Pick her!” So I sent an email asking a dozen questions. She immediately answered. I asked a dozen more. She responded right away again. And it went this way until she answered all my questions, and I knew by the end of our interaction that she was the right coach for me.
Throughout the year, I worked in a cohort with fellow writers and my writing coach. We had weekly Zoom meetings. We had weekly workshops. We had a tight-knit community, one that I never would’ve had on a faceless forum. We encouraged one another. We supported one another. We understood one another. We commiserated together. We celebrated together. We grew together. We became more than just a cohort of writers. We became a writing family.
Plus, I learned so much. From grabbing the reader to querying an agent, I learned more than I could imagine. I had no idea what I didn’t know until I realized what I didn’t know. And during the year, I wrote my next manuscript. It took me eight weeks. That’s right, eight weeks. On a genre that I never thought I could pull off. But with my coach’s lessons and encouragement, I did it. Of course, it had to be revised, edited, rewritten, revised, edited and rewritten over and over again, until it was the best polished version of itself.
Not only did my craft benefit, but my emotional and mental state did as well. Never once did I end a meeting feeling worse. No matter how discouraged, down, or frustrated I felt going into it, I ALWAYS felt better coming out. I’d found my peeps and formed friendships outside our writing meetings. That, to me, is priceless.
And then, on August 1 of this year, the day I graduated from my one-year program with my coach, I was offered representation. Talk about timing! Honestly, I never would’ve been able to find an agent without all the guidance along the way.
Is A Writing Coach For You?
That’s a call only you can make. If you are lost, confused, and overwhelmed with the writing process and your journey to publication, here are some things to consider when deciding if you should hire a coach:
- Do you need guidance?
- What are you hoping to get out of it?
- How much does it cost?
- How much face time will you get with your coach?
- How many clients does your coach work with?
- Do they make unrealistic promises, like promising you’ll get a book deal?
- What resources can your coach provide?
- How long of a commitment is it?
- Are you bound to a contract? Is there a way to get out of it if you need/want to?
- Does it feel like the right fit?
If you choose to hire a writing coach, my most significant piece of advice is to do your due diligence and go with your gut. And if you don’t know where to begin, you can start by looking up my coach. Just remember, it’s not a one size fits all solution.
Who Is My Coach?
By now, I’m sure you’re wondering who my coach is. I’ll get to that in just a moment. But first, please remember that everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another––it’s not a one size fits all solution.
And now, the big reveal. My writing coach is Mary Adkins, author of When You Read This, Privilege, and Palm Beach (all HarperCollins). She is one of my biggest cheerleaders, and I am forever grateful for all she’s done. I consider her more than just a coach, I consider her a friend, and I can’t thank her enough for taking the time with me, oftentimes going above and beyond what I could’ve asked or expected of her.
So, if you hire a writing coach, I hope you find one who does the same things for you. Good luck, and wishing you the best of luck on your journey!