Confession: Why I Ran Away From Being A Writing Coach

One of the people I admire most in the world made a confession this week: he feels not good enough. And that’s what’s held him back from pursuing the business he was truly passionate about, because he was feeling like he has no right to go out there and teach people things that he’s not really an “expert” in.

His blog post confession was raw, honest and full of love for his readers. And he inspired me to share myself with you.

I’ve been writing fiction for twenty+ years and studying the art of writing stories for almost as long. But it wasn’t until I came across an article from Larry Brooks talking about story structure that things really fell into place for me.

Not long after that moment I had an inspired thought—I could coach writers. I could save them time and cut years off of their novel-writing journeys by teaching them about story structure, and helping them execute it in their own stories.

I sent an email out to my list at the time and offered up five spots in a four-week coaching program where I would help each writer develop and plan her story before NaNoWriMo started. Within 48 hours, all five spots were full. And my writing coaching business was born.

Except it scared the fuck out of me.

Who was I to think I could help people with their stories? I’m not Larry Brooks—the expert in story structure and someone I admire. I’ve never published a novel (though I have written several, and published several nonfiction books).

So rather than dive full-force into my coaching business and help more writers, I resisted the calling. I ignored it. For years.

While I still helped writers here and there, my focus was scattered.

But the calling never went away. That nagging voice inside, telling me I wanted to help writers plan, develop and write their stories.

There’s a reason I’ve always been obsessed with writing fiction. There’s a reason reading novels is one of my all-time favorite-favorite things to do, and why story structure jumps off the screen at me when I’m watching movies.

It’s because I’m meant to be a fiction coach, a story coach, a writing coach. I am meant to help emerging novelists write and revise their stories.

And I’m not going to hide from it anymore.

For the last year—since my mentor died last October—I’ve been 100 percent focused on working with fiction writers and coaching writers on story structure.

I’ve worked with some of the most awesome writers this year, and helped them develop, plan and write their novels. I’ve watched stories come to life that may have never seen the light of day otherwise.

It’s been incredible. The best year of my life, so far.

I’ve learned, grown, and made huge commitments—to myself and to my work.

And now I want to make a commitment to you.

I am here to serve fiction writers to the best of my ability.

I will always be 100 percent honest with you about what it takes to write a novel you can publish. I will tell it like it is and never sugar-coat things.

I will learn, develop my skills, and grow as a person and a coach—to better serve you.

I will continually seek out the information you most need to overcome the challenges that stop you from putting your stories out into the world, and then share it with you in a way that’s easy to digest.

I’m holding space in the world for your story, the one inside you that your heart so desperately wants to write.

I will be an example of living the writing life, by writing the stories and ideas in my head, and publishing them for you (and the world) to read.

I accept that I am someone who takes on too much—because that’s how I work best. But I am not always gonna get it right. Sometimes I’ll bite off more than even I can chew, and when that happens I will do my best to make it right.

I will not teach you things I haven’t yet tried myself. Not now, not ever.

I will practice gratitude on a daily basis—because I’m so fucking grateful for you and for the fact that I get to spend my life helping people write novels (‘Cause let’s be honest, who gets to do that?!)

I will partner with people who inspire me to be great and do great things.

I will love myself every single day for being perfectly imperfect. And I will put myself and my creative work out into the world—where it belongs.

With this commitment comes new beginnings.

A new website. New content. New coaching programs. And a new contest where one lucky writer will win 90-days of free coaching with me.

Isn’t it time you let your story out? Let’s make 2015 the year you finally do.

6 Replies to “Confession: Why I Ran Away From Being A Writing Coach”

  1. Thank you for being brave and sharing this. Being a young professional who provides career development coaching, I have felt this way on many, many days. We can find our confidence in knowing that we have a great deal more experience than most in our specific fields from our intense focus on developing the necessary knowledge and skills. I’m about to embark on my first novel-writing experience and really appreciate your insights, tips, and resources– so glad you took that scary leap to become a writing coach!

    1. @Allison Thanks so much! I really appreciate you saying that. I definitely try to find confidence in knowing that I was truly put on this planet to do this work. Staying connected to my “why” helps a ton. Good luck with your novel!

  2. Thanks for your honesty, Jennifer. Just curious–why novels? Maybe you could specialize in coaching people who write non-fiction. There are plenty of people who could use help in that area.

    1. @Rachel Because I wanted to specialize in something that I love and that I’m really great at. I used to work with non-fiction writers, but there are tons of coaches out there who specialize in that. Not quite as many who specialize in fiction/novels.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I know it’s over a year old, but I googled “how to become a writing coach,” and this was the first thing that popped up. While this isn’t a “how to” article, I think you more than highlighted the first step – overcoming fear and embracing your calling. Thanks for being honest! And that’s so fun you want to coach fiction writers. I hope it’s going well for you!

    1. @Rachel Thanks for “stopping by.” I’m glad you found the article helpful. It is going great for me! I now make most of my income from coaching writers and authors, both fiction and nonfiction. As for the “how to” part, there’s really no official “how” for achieving the goal of being a writing coach. You just have to be further along than the people you’re coaching. So if you’re not already writing and publishing and if you don’t already have your writing habits solid, those are a few other things to work on. If you want to coach writers, you’ve gotta walk your talk.

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