A few years ago I sat down on New Year’s Eve and wrote a letter to myself—to be opened a year later. It was a heartfelt letter filled with my hopes for the coming year. Figuring prominently was the aspiration to finish my first novel. I expressed frustration with my lack of success in this area, but mostly I encouraged myself to finally FINISH.
Reckoning Day loomed before me. Would I disappoint myself again?
And the next year.
And the next.
Seven years after beginning, I finished my novel, The Wrong, and recently published it in July, 2016.
Why this year? What made the difference?
It wasn’t by chance. It wasn’t by intention. (I’d been “intending” to do it all along.) There were several factors that figured into the equation, several people whose encouragement and faith in me spurred me on. I am convinced, however, that one key decision propelled me to the finish line: I found a writing coach.
I did some research on writing coaches and something stood out among all the other benefits. A good coach will help you identify obstacles and get a plan for working through (or around) them. I needed someone with another vantage point to look not only at my writing, but my career. I connected with a writer friend who had been “coaching” me since we’d met. I asked if she might consider formalizing that arrangement. We discussed the particulars and moved forward.
We scheduled our first meeting for January and set up weekly word counts. I didn’t need my coach to necessarily read the work and provide feedback. It was enough to know I had 8,000 words to deliver by midnight Saturday every week…until the novel was completed.
Once it was finished, my coach, Jessica Ferguson, gave it a read. She identified trouble spots and provided insightful feedback. By May, I had a finished book, ready for publication. Thank God (and thank you, Coach!).
How Does My Coach Help Me Now?
I took a small break from writing after I finished the novel—partly to focus on book promotion, and partly to refuel the creative engine. My coach has been an invaluable resource in this stage of the process as well. Her knowledge of the publishing industry, her knack for asking the right questions (when I start wandering after rabbits on obscure trails), and her desire to see me succeed, all serve as gentle guidance along the way.
There is another benefit of having a coach that runs deeper than aspiration and achievement. Writing is lonely business. Most writers I know don’t mind the solitude. In fact, when inspiration calls from the depths, we joyfully answer by leaving family and friends behind—if just for a while. Those moments alone are rich and precious. And yet, I found myself alone in ways that left me lonely. I expressed this as: “I need someone to be in it with me.” I wasn’t sure what I was asking for when I had that epiphany. But today I am sure I have found it.
If you need someone in your corner, someone with clarity of vision, someone to identify the obstacles you can’t see and classify the ones you can, consider a writing coach. We all have friends and influences within the writing community, but a formal, professional relationship with a writing coach just might be the strong foundation for your next level of success.
Heather Duff is a freelance web designer passionate about helping others share their work (dreams, ideas, creativity) with the world. She enjoys serving on her church media team, working behind the scenes in the fun—and sometimes frantic—world of church media. She has a great affection for coffee and good friends, especially when combined. She writes mysteries and fantasy fiction. Heather recently published her first mystery novel, The Wrong.
Author Website: http://heatherkduff.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-K.-Duff/e/B014ZD0B0G/
Coaching & Marketing Website: http://creativecoachingandmarketing.com