Writer coach: who is this professional figure and what does it represent in the world of coaching and writing?

Coaching applied to writing, or rather to writers and authors can and is giving a really great contribution by responding to an increasingly widespread need. The fundamental thing, however, is that we clarify the subject because the role of the writer coach is often confused with that of the editor or literary consultant. But we are on completely different ground.

Today there is a coach for everything – from business to life coach – while the writer coach has not yet had a precise definition in the world of coaching, I hope it will happen as soon as possible because people must be trained, have the right tools to perform, Such an important role.

The writer coach supports the writer in his path of awareness that is often studded with complicated moments, blocks, loss of self-determination. Whatever kind of book he writes. So let’s discover together the characteristics of an increasingly important professional, the true trainer of writing. 

Who is the writer coach

In recent years you have certainly heard of a specific professional in the world of writing and publishing: the writer coach, the writing trainer, or rather, the coach, the motivator of writers or authors in general.

It goes beyond the figure of the editor and the ghostwriter, completes it, and its expertise is increasingly in demand. There are many writers who show the need to be supported by a coach, specifically a writer coach. Together with the revision of one’s texts or the writing of a book (in the case of the ghostwriter), one explicitly asks to be supported in a coaching path.

We are looking for professionals who, on the one hand, know the world of writing and publishing well – it is undoubtedly much more reassuring because we know that the interlocutor with whom we will face our contingencies knows the territory in which we move – from other, have a solid training in coaching and are able to apply the method in the most correct way.

In our country the success of a professional writing coach is slow even if it is increasingly recognized in various sectors. Abroad, however, the role is very widespread. It should not be confused with the editor, with the literary consultant or even with the ghostwriter. Between the two, the editor is the figure who could also include this specialization. Instead the ghostwriter rarely holds this role; his is the task of writing a text that is entrusted to him. Let’s say that in part even the ghostwriter could support the author to help him clarify his own choices of style or structure of the work but it is not part of the daily routine of his duties. It must also be said that it is not a “compulsory” qualification. Publishing and writing professionals are not required to become coaches. As far as I’m concerned, it was a personal choice to acquire this competence and to graduate in coaching. Perhaps my choice is closely linked to a personal and character attitude that has manifested itself in a very evident way with a good number of authors and clients.

Coaching and writing

Being a writer coach, trainer of writing and writers does not mean “I help you organize and perform at your best in terms of timing and results or I support you in choosing the publisher by preparing the necessary documentation”. This is part of other activities.

The writer coach knows the difficulties of writers and knows how to support them in a path of emergence of potential through the maieutic dialogue, the identification of personal resources and the implementation of the right actions that will always and only spring from the writer-coachee. 

In my experience as a professional in writing and publishing, I have to confirm this trend. 

Authors don’t just ask for texts to be corrected or written, but they want something more: they need support, an ally on the path that will lead them from the idea to the publication of a book. A support to turn to in moments of blockage, discouragement or loss of enthusiasm. 

Lo and behold, coaching has entered the world of writing. 

It will now be necessary to spread a culture of competence, there is a lot of improvisation, not out of bad faith, but it is thought that it is enough to collaborate on an organizational table of writing and timing to define yourself as a coach, or that it is enough to encourage the writer, to be there in the moment of despair. The writer coach is much more, or rather, he is something different.

Meanwhile, to boast the title in the true sense of the term, a structured path must be undertaken, enriched by practice and study. The writer coach must be certified. Only by attending a course of true training, studying and experimenting will it be possible to provide a service that meets the demand. 

Coaching is a method and as such must be learned. Attention, not a rigid method, rather, a method of creative development of the potential, in this case, of the writer.

Maxwell E. Perkins: A Great One to Remember

The seed of the writer coach comes from afar. The roots are rooted in the history of literature. 

There have been editors who have made improvements to the texts and, at the same time, have supported the author by supporting him in moments of doubt or difficulty, but they have also allowed him to become aware of his role as author, to overcome blocks and regain energy. , discovering for oneself and in oneself the resources to draw upon.

One above all – and we cannot fail to mention him – was Mr. Perkins considered the greatest editor in the world; however, if we read his story carefully, we will realize how much he played an embryonic role as a coach, precisely because of the talent of supporting writers in bringing out their potential, in taking action in the various phases in which the self-determination of the authors. Of course, he was not a full-fledged coach but he applied many aspects of coaching in his relationship with the authors.

Considered to be one of the greatest editors that ever existed. The author Andrew Scott Berg dedicated a book to him “The Gene Editor ” from which director Michael Grandage made the film Genius.  Maxwell E. Perkins edited the texts of Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. 

Perkins’ first client was Fitzgerald himself with the text “The Romantic”. Nobody believed in this text, only Perkins. He acted in a severe way with numerous cuts and various rewrites and the text was published in 1920 with the title “From here from heaven”. 

Maxwell E. Perkins (1884-1947) also edited the texts of Thomas Wolfe, Hemingway. Just to say who he was dealing with, sacred monsters, in short. But Perkins, like a real coach, looked at the man and certainly not at his name (also because, let’s face it, many of them were not yet famous at all at the time).  Mr. Perkins’ talent was in supporting writers lost in the depths of their own creative minds, heedless of latent potential. He was famous for his ability to make writers really give their best. Hemingway dedicated “ The Old Man and the Sea ” to Perkins: that is all said. 

Then, of course, he assumed behaviors that had little to do with coaching, such as lending money or intervening to calm certain turbulent love relationships. But that’s another story.

If you want to learn more about this issue, I suggest you read the article How to become an editor and ghost writer.

When you need a writer coach

The writer coach supports the writer, trains him to be in the flow, in the creative flow, and sees his potential and the enormous value that he carries within. Here the concept of “flow” is twofold: it doesn’t just mean being immersed in what we love, in the full swing of our talents; for the writer it means pure creative inspiration, ideas that find words and words that become texts. Writers complain of “no longer being able to be in the flow”. The flow of creativity. And when it happens they suffer.

The writer coach supports the writer, he is his ally.

The relationship is important and must be facilitating, even here it is expressed in the four fundamental declinations on which a coaching relationship is based.

Hospitality: it does not matter what he has written or has not written, whether it has literary value or not. The author is received with understanding.

Listening: in the phase of writing coaching there must be no judgment, here there is no technical evaluation, but we focus on the perceived present of the person in front of you, giving him those moments of silence that, at certain times, the writer cannot to find, in his continuous and unstoppable inner dialogue.

Alliance: the writer coach is an ally you can trust. 

Authenticity: from the moment in which the writer coach knows himself, understands and accepts himself, he will place himself with the utmost transparency towards his writer or coachee writer. 

 Let’s see in detail in which cases writers need a coach.

Writer’s block

Who have you never heard of? Yet some argue that it does not exist, but derives from the lack of training and determination; others say that creativity can stop and get stuck. Blank page nightmare. The writer coach does not care about any of the aforementioned theories; he cares about how the writer is in the present and supports him with his questions, with the maieutic method of coaching so that he can understand where this situation comes from and with what resources and concrete actions to face it. . In the relationship with writers, concrete action is basic and most of the time it consists of writing exercises; other times instead,

Frustration due to Kronos

When the writers sign the editorial contract – which contains the deadline for the delivery of the text – anxiety, worry is triggered. Many confess to sleep badly, to foresee the worst scenarios, to not being able to finish their book and this, in many cases, affects productivity. The intervention of the writer coach can be decisive.

Need for organization

Another very frequent situation in the world of writers in which there is a lack of self-determination is the organization of work. Planning and maintaining writing within a timing plan is not easy, considering that many authors have another job and must be able to insert the practice of writing among numerous daily activities and chores. So they get frustrated very easily.

Here it is a question, again through a maieutic dialogue, of bringing them to see the present clearly in order to implement those steps – even small ones – through which they will be able to change the situation. 

Need to become aware of the quality of one’s work

The question concerns in particular the beginners: they have a strong passion for writing, but they are unable to acquire awareness of what they do and the quality of their work. The writer coach will have to support the coachee in feeling “inside” writing, in understanding how vital and important the relationship with writing is and in particular what kind of contribution is being given to the world of literature and to readers. In such situations, family and relational environments play an impacting role, which most of the time they judge according to some old-fashioned stereotypes, however capable of influencing the mood of the writer-coachee. 

Find enthusiasm

Writing, especially if you have professional aims, if you are planning to write a novel, a manual or an essay, is a constant commitment: it requires training and growth both from a technical point of view and from that of sensitivity; who is not attentive to others and to the world in which he lives as well as to his own interiority, how can he write and communicate in the best way? The editing and revision of the text, for example, are moments in which meticulous attention is required to be spread over slow times. And all this can be perceived as routine (in the routine, in fact, lies one of the benefits of writing) and the enthusiasm of the beginning, of the early days, is lacking. After all, however, it is difficult to write without being passionate, the recovery of energy and good balance are fundamental for the writer. Here it is, 

Address rejection by the publisher 

Ah how wonderful, the work is finished, great satisfaction. Deserved, no doubt because writing is already a particular activity in itself and publishing a book is even more so. So you can bet everything on that long-dreamed publisher and send them your work.

It may happen that, for a variety of reasons, the publisher says “no”.

Some see the refusal as a push not to give up and to try again with the same publisher after some time or to turn to other publishing houses. However, there are writers who live this rejection very badly; in reality, it could also depend on market or budget conditions, therefore completely independent of the quality of the work. However, the authors begin to question every aspect of the writing work, losing the clarity of evaluation. In some cases, they fall into deep depressive periods that lead to a (generally, not definitive) abandonment of writing. The intervention of writer coaches can be effective and necessary to support authors to get out of this dark and unproductive area by regaining self-confidence.

A guide in choosing 

You have finished your book and you don’t know what to choose. Would it be better to take the path of self-publishing or look for a publisher who is serious and believes in the text you have created? Of course, an editor and a literary agent can best advise you. The literary agent or your own editor will put you in touch with publishing houses, for example. Yet even in this case the contribution of the writer coach can be fundamental: it helps you to clarify objectives and expectations. To better understand where you want to go.

The writer coach helps you to clarify, to understand which is the best and most congenial way for you, for the author you want to be.

Attention, the writer coach is not a psychologist and is not a therapist. Let me be clear. His activity is different and he will take care to illustrate it in a clear and transparent way to the people who ask for her support. A coach always prepares a “coaching pact” in which all the conditions of the path you are about to undertake will be illustrated.

Aspects of writing coaching to consider 

There is a question to be addressed in the field of writing coaching: the writer coach can be – as in my case – the editor who learns the coaching method. Of course, it may not be the case, but it happens.

He knows very well the dynamics of writing, the mental mechanisms of writers and the world of publishing. Great? Not entirely. Because the situation carries with it a considerable risk: in the coaching phase one is no longer thinking about the work itself but must be focused on the coachee, leaving outside the relationship conditioning such as knowledge of how much and what work has been done and the quality of the product.

The coach who will not be influenced by what he knows and will be able to open up to the writer in total freedom will have fulfilled his task. 

In the coaching relationship the performance is given by the potential minus the interferences. 

Among the interferences that concern the writer there are often life situations. For example, it becomes a problem not to have a place to write (that famous room all to himself that Virginia Woolf speaks of) or to be able to enjoy moments of tranquility so necessary both for inspiration and writing and for the revision of the text. 

These are, many times, the stumbling blocks to face before the potential of the writer really emerges.

It will be the facilitating relationship between coach and coachee to favor the emergence of potential and the passage to action.

Act. The action plan is crucial. Fundamental element of the coaching path, vital for writers. Inactivity is what really hurts and being able to take even minimal actions is certainly an important first step of change.

The writer needs to find the time of writing in everyday life and can do so by choosing those actions that are useful and capable of unblocking the situation or in any case of starting it at a turning point. 

In writing coaching, of course, the real motivation to resume writing or to overcome a difficult moment will have to be verified. If, on the other hand, the writer intends to pour out on the writer coach the lack of motivation so that he can make decisions and solve problems by providing him with the ready-made solution, then we are not faced with a real desire to undertake the path. 

The desire to start a journey alongside a professional and the determination to use one’s resources are truly sine qua non conditions for starting the coaching path. 

Writing coaching must present a symmetrical relationship, on the same level although the roles are distinct and complementary. The asymmetry must also be found in this case in always placing the content of the coachee at the center.

The future of writing coaching

We are increasingly moving towards greater attention to the person. If, on the one hand, the Pandemic has generated new concerns, on the other, it has re-established priorities including the need to take place in favorable environments for well-being. In recent months we are witnessing mass resignations from companies or, at least, from those companies that do not reflect human values.

Here coaching becomes an important skill, I would say fundamental, for all those who work with people, support them in different paths to achieve their goals.

An overview of the world of writing and publishing tells us that writers will increasingly ask for the support of the writer coach. 

 I hope that professional coaching organizations and associations will pay attention to this specialization and place it alongside other already established ones such as business coaching, life coaching, sport or team coaching. Writing coaching exists and the sooner it will be counted among the types of coaching that require competence and learning, the sooner many improvisations will be avoided.  

The writer’s goal is to write, first of all. When you don’t write, you suffer, you feel incomplete. Once the work is completed, further goals are set such as the search for the publisher and therefore the publication, dissemination of the book and reaching the public. 

The writer coach will need to be competent. Not only that: he must – and this is a necessary characteristic – believe in the person, in her potential, see his beauty. His specialization will then be to understand the value of writing and move with respect and care in the territory of creativity. 

How to become a writer coach

There is no professional register to enroll in and there is no school dedicated to the role. You need experience in the world of writing and publishing and a good certified coaching school from which to graduate. Not all schools and organizations are. 

What qualities do you need?

Have a knowledge of writing and related issues. The writer coach must know what it means to structure and write a book. Not only that, you must be very clear what stress the search for a publisher entails and then, perhaps, the consequent rejection. In my opinion, to undertake this path requires a lot of trust in people and the conviction of being able to support them in the emergence of their potential.

My activity as a writer coach: how it was born and how it develops 

As an editor and ghostwriter I work with many authors and I have consolidated a real writing method (The Writing Way method thatI invite you to discover on my site). I deepened my training with autobiographical and therapeutic writing which can become a valid exercise to be entrusted to authors outside of coaching meetings.

The trainer of writing 

Here, you know a coach, a trainer? This is what the writer coach should be.

Alongside the Writing Way format, I introduced another Vision path that includes a real strategy of self-awareness, of one’s history and one’s talent through conscious writing.

When you have a dream inside you sometimes need someone to give us a hand to make it emerge and things change.

Some time ago I told about my work in an interview that my friend and storyteller Fulvio Julita gave me Personal storytelling of a writer coach”. 

I love this aspect of my profession, it is certainly difficult and involves great responsibility but seeing the authors satisfied with their path is a great reward.


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