Friday, May 01, 2009

A Writing Coach

by G.Parker

Sometimes just going to the gym and working out isn't enough -- when that happens, a personal trainer usually enters the picture. A personal trainer helps identify where the problems are and offers solutions, both dietary and exercise.

My husband had a co-worker that had always been overweight, and decided to hire a personal trainer. He lost so much weight he was a different person! I was totally shocked the first time I saw him afterward. My hubby didn't think it was healthy, because the weight came off pretty quickly, but I sure saw the benefit.

It occurred to me the other day that sometimes it would be nice to have a writing coach. Sometimes when we sit at the computer and have a hard time putting fingers on the keys, or the words we had flowing the day before don't want to come out now, or even if we're starting a whole new book -- we could use someone to get us going.

Just think! They would give us word drills every morning to limber up the fingers and get the juices flowing. We'd have to do a couple of mad writes or flash fiction lines, to get the creative ideas going, and then they'd make us sit at the computer until we met our goal for the day, be it word count or chapter goal. The personal trainer would be there at our side, prodding us on when we stalled, encouraging our progress and keeping us on track.

While most of us may not have the income to afford that kind of help, (and I'm not sure such a thing actually exists) we have the next best thing. We have friends, family and can find people who understand what we're going through. There are critique groups that help influence the direction we're going with a piece of work.

Writing coaches are out there, we just have to find a way to use them properly and decide we're going to accept their help. There are three aspects that I think a writing coach would start with: commitment, determination and goals. Once those three are determined, the rest fall into line.

Commitment would detail how much you are willing to put into this. If you had a real personal trainer, he/she would want to know how much time you wanted to commit to the project. How many times a week did you want to see them? What were your expectations from the relationship? In writing, we have to decide if we are serious writers or not. Are we committed to seeing our words on paper or on the screen?

Commitment is a start, but determination pulls us through the times when we don't want to write -- are too tired, too sore, or too busy. That goal is still fixed and not going away. Having that drive is what makes us actually do what we have committed to do.

And finally the goal. What is it you really want to accomplish? In a physical sense, it's usually how much weight to loose, or muscle to be built. In writing, it's simple: How many pages per day, or words or chapters? How much of each day is going to be spent writing to meet that goal? Is it going to be a set time every day? Don't be hesitant or shy -- these are your goals. No one else is going to make them and then follow through, this is about your talent and life's work.

While we can't each have a personal writing coach to encourage us each day as we approach our goals or be there through the beginning stages, we do have blogs, conferences, online communities (such as Authors Incognito) and writing groups to help us when they can.

The rest of it is up to us.


Th. said...


Hey! Like in Stranger than Fiction!

Also they'll help you stop smoking which, as Mormons I'm sure we'll all agree, is a good thing.

LexiconLuvr said...

I wish I had a personal writing trainer...*sigh*

Seriously, I love my critique group and I love the writing community. I couldn't live without you guys. Thanks for this excellent post!

Karlene said...

Great idea! I'll do it for $100/hr, plus benefits.

What? No takers?


Evelyn Curtis said...

Thank you for this post! This seems to be just for me. I am an extremely new rookie to writing. I love it. I have been so inspired to write, but I seem to be having a hard time calling that inspiration randomly. I know that practice makes perfect, but where do I start. I am in Pocatello, ID, where there are a few writing groups between here and in Idaho Falls. I have not been able to get much a response from either of them to let me join. I am kind of stuck and don't know where to turn. I need the support, and the encouragement to get started. But all of it is leaving me with low spirits, and little to no inspiration for my writing. Sorry to boob here, but I guess I don't know where to go from here.

Covington Sensation's said...

I need a critique group. Anyone know where I can find one? I signed up for Author's Incognito at LDS storymaker's. Can they be a critique group for me???

G. Parker said...

Evelyn -- I'm sorry that Idaho seems to be sparse on the group front...there are online groups. A really good one is forum. Go check it out -- you'll find some familiar names there.
Covington, do you live in Davis county?

Evelyn Curtis said...

I actually live in Bannock County. About one hour past the Idaho/Utah border. I will check out the website. Thanks so much!