Writing coaches are like archaeologists. We excavate the treasure of your words.
A good coach will unearth what’s good about your writing, and help you scrape away what’s not. They’ll They’ll help you find your voice – that is, a way of writing that sounds like you but is polished and professional.
Often, people who seek out a writing coach have a specific goal. I asked businesswoman and entrepreneur Aimee Collins why she first approached me: “I was trying to get back on track with my writing and to launch my blog. I needed serious help with direction and editing.”
Although there’s some crossover, a writing coach isn’t the same as a professional editor. The job of an editor is to polish and refine your writing. They’ll check facts, grammar, spelling, and so on. They prepare your work for publication.
While I will look for problems in the grammar, sentence structure, and planning or overall structure, my focus is different. I’m looking for that treasure and ways to showcase it. I love this aspect of my job, and it was great to hear from Aimee that it shows: “I really like that Jo genuinely cares about helping you improve your writing. It’s evident how passionate she is about English and helping others succeed. Her clear direction and obvious expertise means I can instantly understand what I need to improve.”
Often, I look for problematic patterns. A common mistake, for example, is leaving the subject off a sentence.
You might write:
“Revenue is improving. Regaining momentum lost through Covid-19.”
The subject of the first sentence is ‘Revenue.’ It’s performing the action – ‘improving’.
If you look at the second sentence, “Regaining momentum lost through Covid-19,” you’ll see that nothing is doing the ‘regaining’ – there’s no subject.
If I was coaching you, and I picked up this as a recurring issue, I’d work with you until you understood what was happening, and how to avoid it in future. Here’s Aimee on this process: “I’ve learnt so much, specifically about grammar and how to write stories in a more compelling way. I launched my first blog and I’m excited to write a book…Hopefully with Jo’s guidance!”
The goal of a good writing coach is first that you find your written voice, and second that you use that voice confidently and accurately. To achieve that, the coach must inspire trust. Aimee says, “I instantly felt comfortable with Jo. She puts you at ease right away, as writing can be quite a personal topic. This ease is essential, so that clients feel safe going outside their comfort zone.
Like an archaeological dig, working on your writing is hard labour. But the treasure you’ll find makes it rewarding.