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Hiring A Writing Coach

Updated on July 4, 2014

What Is a Writing Coach?

I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you're doing. You have to be a salesman, and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you're trying to accomplish on the basketball floor.

Phil Jackson

The answer to that question is in the question itself. A writing coach helps you with your writing. They understand the struggles that accompany a writer, and they are someone who can help you to overcome the challenges that you face.

A good writing coach does not pull punches. They will be honest with you in their appraisals, and they will be encouraging every step of the way.

A good writing coach has been where you are. They get it. They know how hard writing is, and they have some solutions up their sleeve that will get you back on track and writing your best.

Let me share with you what I have experienced.

I have been a member of an online writing site for over two years now. I have many friends on that site, and a large percentage of them say very nice things about my writing. That is very gratifying to hear, but…..

I also have friends and family who read my articles, and they all have very nice things to say about my writing. Again, it is all very gratifying to hear, but….

The “but,” of course, refers to the fact that growth does not come from kind words of praise. For this writer, growth will only come from constructive criticism and meaningful suggestions that will help me reach my true potential as a writer. I need a writing coach to provide those things.

A writer needs to train just like an athlete, and a good athlete needs a good coach.
A writer needs to train just like an athlete, and a good athlete needs a good coach. | Source

Why You Might Need One

I think what coaching is all about, is taking players and analyzing their ability, put them in a position where they can excel within the framework of the team winning. And I hope that I've done that in my 33 years as a head coach.

Don Shula

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you consistently missing your goals?
  • Do you need help with grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or story formation?
  • Do you need help in developing a strong writing voice?
  • Are your characters weak? Is your plot sluggish? Are your settings bland?
  • Could you benefit from constructive feedback?
  • Do you consistently suffer from writer’s block?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, then a writing coach just might be the answer.

It is hard to give yourself counsel
It is hard to give yourself counsel | Source

What Will a Writing Coach Do for You?

In the end, it's about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.

John Wooden

The quick answer to this question is that a writing coach will help you to improve your writing.

The long answer to this question involves what it is, exactly, that you need.

A writing coach can do any of the following:

  • Help you to identify your goals as a writer
  • Help you to find focus
  • Help you to overcome obstacles that you face
  • Help you to improve your writing through positive suggestions
  • Give you an honest critique of your writing
  • Help you to tackle specific aspects of your writing and improve them

What to Look for in a Writing Coach

But with the right kind of coaching and determination you can accomplish anything and the biggest accomplishment that I feel I got from the film was overcoming that fear.

Reese Witherspoon

There are a lot of them out there to choose from, so shop wisely and do your diligent homework before choosing. Consider these points when you are looking for a writing coach:

  • How accessible will the coach be? In other words, can you count on them to be available when you need them?
  • Are they easy to work with? Exchange emails with the candidates and see if you feel a rapport with them.
  • Are they experienced? Quite frankly, in this online world, anyone can declare themselves to be a writing coach. What are their qualifications? Have they been a teacher in the past? Do they have an impressive platform of their own?
  • What do they specialize in? Some work mainly on voice? Some on grammar? Find the coach that specializes in what you need.
  • Do they have game? Ask to see a sample of their work. There is an old maxim that those who can’t, teach. When hiring a writing coach, you want someone who can actually write.

Choose a coach wisely
Choose a coach wisely | Source

What Does a Writing Coach Cost?

My best investment, as cliched as this sounds, is the money I've spent developing myself, via books, workshops and coaching. Leadership begins within, and to have a better career, start by building a better you.

Robin S. Sharma

There is no easy answer to this one. Prices fluctuate wildly in this online world. However, you can expect the price to be within this range:

  • A one-time critique consisting of an appraisal of your work and a 250-500 word critique….between $25 and $50.
  • A monthly program usually consisting of two hours of online instruction per week, totalling eight hours of one-on-one instruction and follow-up written critiques and suggestions….between $200 and $500.

Do You Need a Writing Coach?

Coaching helps you take stock of where you are now in all aspects of your life, and how that compares to where you would like to be.

Elaine MacDonald

I can’t answer that question. It depends on your needs and your level of frustration.

Are you a good writer? Do you have access to writing peers who will give you an honest appraisal of your work? Do you want to improve? Can you afford to hire a writing guru? All of these questions, and the answers you apply to them, will help you to decide if a writing coach is for you.

I can say without hesitation that a good writing coach, like any good coach in any endeavor, will be invaluable. We need coaches in sports. We need coaches in music, sculpting, and painting. Why wouldn’t we need a coach for writing?

I can also say that an inexperienced writing coach with little expertise will do you more harm than good.

I am not trying to discourage you from hiring a writing coach.

I’m simply saying to choose wisely and be careful.

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”




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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 2 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I really hope you are indeed thinking of being a writing coach, because I do think you would be a perfect one and your tips here and in the past have totally illustrated this. Happy 4th of July and thanks always for sharing with us!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. I just started that little side-business. We'll see how it goes. Happy 4th to you and your family.

    • Trisha Roberts profile image

      Trisha Roberts 2 years ago from Rensselaer, New York

      Thank you for this information Bill. I was actually thinking of looking into a writing coach for myself for some time so this information is definitely useful for me. Once again, Another great hub my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Trisha. Drop me a line if you want to talk about it. My rates are reasonable. Happy 4th of July my friend.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      Interesting and informative. I was asked recently by a hubber to give advice on writing; I referred him to you. There is no way I can come close to the way you write succinctly about writing. I can do grammar and spelling, yes, but that's it.

      It's so important for writers to know how to express what they want to say and to develop their style. How they do it varies of course, but a writing coach is a great idea for many.

      Enjoy your Friday, bill, and have a wonderful weekend! Ann

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Bill, I pay a little over $28/month for my writing coach. He sends lessons weekly and sets optional homework assignments. I always opt for the homework. He sends me back a critique and suggestions. I save all his critiques so I have them handy when I finish my book and go into the editing phase. Although he's in the UK, he's easily accessible. He answers all my emails and we've even gotten to know some things about each other as people, which makes it nice. We have a great rapport. I don't know what kind of relationship he has with his other students, but I'm not a number to him. He knows exactly who I am when we communicate. I'm glad I have him and I'm glad he's the one I chose to coach me in fiction writing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, thank you for sending the Hubber my way. Interestingly, grammar is my weak spot, but writing style comes fairly easy for me...we all have our strengths it seems.

      Have a wonderful weekend my friend...I will definitely.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bravo, Sha. Great price, great relationship, so glad to hear it. Thanks for sharing your experience with us all, and have a great 4th of July.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 2 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Great idea in a side business Bill. You are the perfect "fit" for what is needed in a writing coach.

      If I find any looking for a coach, I will send them your way immediately.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Greg. I appreciate it, buddy. Have a wonderful weekend with your bride.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wait a second I thought I was the only one you coached right here write now on HP. Bill you always provide that base for fine growth, thank you.

    • mdscoggins profile image

      Michelle Scoggins 2 years ago from Fresno, CA

      Hi Billybuc - another great hub. Never thought of a writing coach but I can see where another set of eyes can be helpful. I notice when I change my focus I struggle. For example, I write a lot of clinical reports and they are straight forward and very formal, though when I write with flavor and style I struggle at times. But practice, practice, practice has been my motto.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Honest feedback from someone who has your best interests at heart is priceless. Best of luck on that side business, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eric, there are a few of us coaching....I just toss this stuff out there and hope it sticks to the wall. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mdscoggins, you aren't alone...it is hard to switch gears like that. I write copy stuff for customers in the mornings and then switch to novel writing in the afternoons...I need lunch in-between to give my brain a chance to adjust.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Flourish....little bits and pieces add up in business. :) Happy 4th of July to you and yours.

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 2 years ago

      Dearest Bill,

      I fall into the category of the type person who, if I needed a maid's service, I would insist on cleaning the house before one arrived. Truth!

      I did want to tell you that my characters have been talking to me and

      I have been riding an emotional high! Just an incredible experience!

      Happy 4th. my friend.

      DJ.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Always something more to think about from your this is one is no exception good luck.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Happy 4th DJ, and I'm glad those characters are finally sharing their story with you. Thank you dear friend.

      bill

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Every time I see that picture I've wanted to ask this: Who's the GEEK in the baseball uniform?....(God, I hope your sense of humor is in tact today...or I'm in trouble) Have you already fessed up to being a Geek way back then?......and also, WHY does your hat look like "Olliie's" from the duo, "Stan & Ollie?".......LMAO......OK...OK....I'll admit it. I have some pictures from the '70's that should be burned.....you know, wearing the Hip-hugger, Flair-Legged pants and fluffly hair. I have one picture of myself in my parent's living room......and it's impossible to tell the difference between me and my mother's ornate floor lamp!.............

      Have a happy FOURTH, bro......I only tease people I love. (BTW....this picture should be in your Bachelor Recipes Hub)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you DDE. I'm glad I give you something to think about.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LMAO...Paula, I'm going to end my day with that gut laugh you just gave me. Me? Geek? Oh you betcha, Sis. I was a charter member of the Freaks and Geeks Club, and I paid serious dues for that membership....and I'm proud of it. LOL Thanks for the laugh, Sis....and enjoy the heck out of your weekend. The book was in the mail last Saturday...I hope you see it soon.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Bill - Great article as usual. I hope you will become a writing coach, as you already have teaching experience. Many of your hubs teach people how to be better writers. There you have it. The experience would enrich your life and others. I have a mentor who helped me. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Pinning hub. Blessings. Audrey

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I await patiently and rest my eyes.....so I can devour your book in one sitting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Should be any day now, Paula. I'm surprised you don't have it already.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Audrey! It would be nice and we'll just have to see what comes of it. Have a wonderful weekend in Oklahoma.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 2 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      The “but,” of course, refers to the fact that growth does not come from kind words of praise. For this writer, growth will only come from constructive criticism and meaningful suggestions that will help me reach my true potential as a writer. I need a writing coach to provide those things.” I couldn't agree more. I know I’ve said this before, but constructive criticism is oxygen for a writer…we need it like we need the air we breathe. Great hub, Bill. :-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing the helpful information, Bill. Good luck with your side business, too!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      your tips and hubs in general are useful and helpful...a writing coach.. yeah sounds better than a ghostwriter.. up and shared my friend

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

      spontaneity bombshells emotions

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wonderful comment, Genna, and I agree totally. Bev gave me some insight into my new novel, and I had to erase 2000 words because of it, but it was necessary and appreciated.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Alicia. A few pennies from many sources add up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Frank, I would never be able to give up control and hire a ghost writer. :) Thanks for being here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      sujaya, great line....agreed!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, you've been writing coach for many of us for some time, advising, supporting, inspiring and motivating us to take the next step in achieving our individual dream. So... my friend, are you thinking of going 'pro?' :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      FLASH.......Tobias appeared in my mailbox this afternoon......Had to open it and just LOOK at it in all it's splendor...then read front & back cover........No one will hear a"peep" from this reader until she's closed this book on the very last page...........Bye!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I'm so glad to hear that Toby finally arrived. Happy reading, Sis!

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 2 years ago from Hawaii

      You would make a great writing coach. You are, after all, coaching us all here with your hubs!

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 2 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill, good advise here for people who would want to hire a writing coach. I hope you are having a lovely weekend. Sending you smiles my friend :-)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I'm just a writer. Pro or amateur, I'm a writer and I love it. Thank you for your kind words, and I hope you have had a wonderful weekend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you vkwok. I'm just doing what I love to do.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahlia my friend, thank you. I am having a very nice weekend and I hope you did as well.

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 2 years ago from australia

      I couldn't agree more. A writing coach can make or break. Haven't looked at my fiction efforts for some time. I recall a time it seemed perfect. Only when a group of critique buddies read and began questioning did I realise it was perfect - but only in my head. Constructive criticism is essential. I shudder to think of the damage an inexperienced coach might do. You have all the qualities to guide a writer through those difficult stages and towards success.. Confident your input will show you and your writers rewards.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      Good luck with your new business Bill.

      You are clearly very experienced in a mentoring role and this may be just the speedy pathway to your writing retreat. Fingers crossed, to it taking you and Bev even closer. Anna. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      travmaj, I really appreciate, not only your kind words, but your thoughts on having a writing coach. Thank you for that.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, thank you Anna. I would love to have that writer's retreat in two years, so yes, this is an important step.

      bill

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Hi Bill - I will be taking my goal to my grave if I don't get some help soon.

      This is such a great hub. Being a vocal coach, I totally get it. Expect a call soon. - Audrey

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      Best wishes for a successful launch as a writing coach. I can see where I will be needing one in the future. One can never quite critique their own work. Having experienced feedback is valuable.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

      Again Billy so well written and full of great advice. Don't ever leave HubPages because you are needed for sure. here's wishing you and Bev a wonderful day.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, it would be a shame if that story died with you. I'm here if you need me.

      Thank you dear friend.

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dianna! If you need me, I'm here.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you dear Eddy. I have no intention of leaving HP. You writers feed my soul.

      bill

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Admitting you need a coach, whether it's for writing or anything else, is a HUGE step that is difficult for most people. But once they realize they need a new perspective or need to work on their weaknesses (or strengths!), then the decision is a no-brainer. I've hired coaches and consultants for a variety of issues over the years. Once I passed the "I need this" hurdle, then the real work begins.

      The other hurdle was, as you noted, finding the RIGHT coach. Once that issue, too, was settled, the decision to hire a coach was very easy.

      Hope your post helps those who need to make this important step!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Heidi, for lending your expertise to this discussion. For me, the question is why wouldn't you hire a writing coach? it seems like a no-brainer to me if one wants to improve.

    • Marie Flint profile image

      Marie Flint 2 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida USA

      I actually hired a writing coach in my younger years. I was trying to break into the short-story mystery market. I followed all his advice, but the difficulty was competing with established writers. At that time, everything was on paper with SASEs. I just didn't have the stamina for the rejections. The advice he gave me was to read the magazine for which I was trying to write (there were a couple of mystery magazines I was reading at the time), do a word count of each story and make sure my own story didn't exceed the maximum word count that had been published (writer's guidelines already tell you this). His fee was modest, so it was no skin off my back, but I certainly didn't publish, either. There are free sites online to develop one's skills if the intent to write is deep and sincere. So, no, I wouldn't go that route again.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Marie. I always enjoy hearing the opinions of other writers.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hi Billy Buc: I have kept this hub in my inbox to read later...and now is later :)

      The whole time I was reading this excellent hub, I kept thinking, 'OH! I wish Billy Buc would be a coach!...after reading the comments I am so glad you are doing that! ( I DO think you are bionic or something...I am wondering if you ever sleep?)

      I know you focus on novels, but I, a non-fiction writer, would be thrilled to get feedback from you because of your honesty and integrity...you would be right up front and to the point which is what I need.

      The information you provide in this hub is exactly what I am looking for.

      Please let me know if you would consider coaching non-fiction...if so, I will email you separately.

      Thank you for this wonderful hub and congratulations on you starting this as a little side business. Blessings, Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lea. Of course I would help with non-fiction...the basics of writing don't change no matter the genre...email me and we'll see what WE can do. :) Blessings my friend.

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 2 years ago from Upstate New York

      Oh, that is so great! THANK YOU! I will be in touch...I will email you as soon as I have a block of time. I so appreciate this and I am SO excited!

      God bless, Sparklea :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool, Lea. It will be nice working with you, and if I can't be of assistance I'll let you know. :)

      bill

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As the old saying goes, caveat emptor(but is that for personal instruction, too?) I'd definitely want references, if I was in the market. Glad to know that a writing coach exists. I never knew!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, references would be a must. There are too many con artists online today. Thanks for your thoughts my friend.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      The "but" is right on the money here. I love the comments I receive but they are 99% of the time lovely and encouraging. It would be nice to get some constructive criticism for my writing. Of course my problem is that I would take it too personally and obsess about what I could do better. Also, unless I was more serious about my writing it wouldn't make sense monetarily. You are sort of like a writing coach here Bill. I know when you write certain articles I take the advice and try to improve on my hubs.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, if you want constructive criticism, I'll help you and not charge you. YOu are a good friend. Email me if you are interested, and I promise to be gentle but honest. holland1145@yahoo.com

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