• My Favorite Thing About Coaching

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 1 comment

    teacher-1276266_960_720September is known as “back-to-school month” here in the United States. Remember those trips to Kmart for pencil boxes and protractors and colored pencils? That mixture of anticipation for a new school year balanced with those feelings of “Aww damn it, summer’s over already and now I have to sit in social studies again”?

    August has also, in a way, been back-to-school month here at WBN, with our emphasis on coaching, its educational and practical value. Because in its own way, coaching is a form of school. A coaching session is a scheduled hour designed to help you learn how to become a stronger writer — and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than an MFA. Hell, you can even look at the writing you produce between sessions as homework. (But only if you want to!)

    In fact, one of my coachees signs off on his emails with “Your Student.” And at the end of each session he says, “OK, so what’s my assignment this week?”

    This past week, on top of the standard homework, we asked some of you to share with us your favorite aspect of coaching.

    Think of it as a sort of “My favorite part of summer vacation.”

    Lisa E., who has been working with Jessamine Chan since October of last year, says that her favorite part of coaching is “Knowing that someone is excited to read what I’ve written, even in an unpolished state!”

    This is something we’ve talked about again and again, the importance of just knowing that someone out there gives a hoot about what we’re writing. (Most recently in this post.)

    Sometimes having a cheerleader keeps us motivated to continue. “My favorite thing about coaching is having my coach, Cecily Sailer, in my corner,” says Stacy N., who has worked with Cecily for four and a half years now.

    The flexibility of coaching is what Sid K. finds most valuable. “This coaching meets me where I am,” he tells us. “When I’ve got a story, we work on it. When I’ve got a chapter of my novel, we work on it. When I’ve got nothing . . . we work on me!” Sid has been working with Justine for over two years.

    Sandra M. recently began working with Nick Courtright, and she cites his enthusiasm as the most valuable thing about their work together. “Some days I need that!” Sandra says.

    (Don’t we all!)

    Having a writing coach “is like having a ‘writing mom,’” says Julie F., who has been working with Cecily since November, 2012. “Someone who knows way more than I do, keeps me accountable and on track, encourages me, and pushes me past my comfort zone.”

    The final word should go to Marcia D., our most stalwart WriteByNighter. Marcia has been working with Justine since July, 2010!

    “My favorite things about being coached is the validation I get with honest, brilliant, constructive criticism,” Marcia says. “It also helps me to see my writing as a job. I must do it because my editor has an appointment with me!

    “I place a sign on my office in my home: ‘Working! Don’t enter unless you’re on fire.’”

    Thank you all for the inspiring and kind words.

    And if you want the other side’s take, late last year some of these same coaches shared with us their favorite aspects of coaching.

    The verdict is clear: Coaches love coaching and coachees love coaching.

    If you haven’t yet tried it, what better time than this back-to-school season?

    If you have tried it, then loved it, then stopped, this is the perfect time to give it another shot.

    If you’re already in coaching and loving every minute of it, keep up the good work!

    And be ready to present your “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” paper! Remember, we need one simile, one metaphor, and one example each of all five senses, as well as a clear thesis and conclusion.


    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

    David Duhr, co-founderWriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, the Observer and other publications.


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    Marla A.

    My faorite thing is the relationship, when it works. I’ve had several coaches throughout my writing life, and there are a couple of them I remain friends with. That’s the coolest thing, I think. To have gone from a pay-for-services relationship to one of friendship when the money aspect is gone. Not coincidentally, the coaches I stay in touch with are the ones whose feedback I always felt was the most sincere and whose opinions felt the most informed.

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