Life Coaching for Writers

Last week I had a telephone life coaching session. This was something completely new to me and I had no idea what to expect.

Suzanne, my coach, phoned at the appointed time and the first thing she advised was to go and fetch a glass of water – I would be  doing a lot of talking over the next 50 minutes.

Life coaching is a way of asking questions to make the client see things from a different perspective and thus find solutions to the obstacles in their life. It is not some new pseudo-science that has been recently invented. Successful people have always had this ability to look at problems from a different angle and then set manageable goals to be achieved within a realistic timescale. Life coaches takes these skills and use them to help clients see a way forward towards what may have seemed an unachievable goal.   

I told Suzanne that my goal was to finish my My Weekly Pocket Novel. At present I was only working on it once a week and therefore had lost momentum each time I came back to it. I am easily distracted into writing shorter stories for competitions and magazines – because I like the feeling of achievement that comes from having finished a piece of writing.

Suzanne asked me to imagine how I would feel when the Novel was finished (proud of my achievement plus an increase in confidence for future writing projects) and also how I would feel if I didn’t complete it (a failure plus a feeling that I could only manage shorter pieces).

She then got me to talk about the obstacles to completing the Novel and to think about ways in which they might be overcome. With Suzanne’s help, I created a plan for moving forward, with Easter as my first milestone:

  • Print the Novel so far
  • Read and make notes on each chapter (a sort of reverse planning)
  • Plan out each as yet unwritten chapter (by Easter)
  • Write the unwritten chapters according to the plan

This may not seem like rocket science but it is a step forward for someone like me who finds it hard to plan (because there’s no satisfaction of watching the word count increase and I find it difficult to see my characters until I actually write scenes with them in) and prefers writing in discrete chunks (hence my love of shorter pieces). Once the plan is in place I will be able to write my chapters in discrete chunks and will be less likely to ‘lose the thread’.

At the end of the session Suzanne pointed out that I had found the way round my own obstacles – she had merely asked questions to direct my thoughts. The advice about the water was good too – my mouth was getting dry towards the end of the session!

So now I’m feeling a little nervous but excited too about achieving the goals I’ve set myself.  

Suzanne is a member of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has recently qualified as a life coach. She would like to specialise in coaching writers and other creative types and is currently offering free telephone coaching sessions in order to practise her skills and build up her experience.  If you would like a coaching session with Suzanne please contact me via the form on my ‘About Sally Jenkins’ page (accessed via the tab on the top left of this page) and I will pass your details on to her.

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  1. #1 by Patsy Collins on March 28, 2011 - 6:58 pm

    I hope your plan works well for you – does sound as though it might. Planning out each chapter is what I do now (my plan is often just a couple of sentences per chapter)and I do find it helps keep me on track.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on March 28, 2011 - 7:15 pm

      Patsy – I’m finding that taking a step back from the actual writing in order to think about the story as a whole is making me feel a little less at sea and a bit more confident about being able to get to the end eventually.

  2. #3 by Marcy on April 1, 2011 - 3:15 pm

    Free coaching for writers? That sounds awesome. Too bad I’m in the US — the phone bill would be horrendous. Maybe with skype? =)

    I’d recently decided on similar goals for my novel. I hope it helps us!

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on April 1, 2011 - 7:35 pm

      Marcy – shame you’re too far away to try out the life coaching but thanks for dropping by and Good Luck with the novel!

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