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If you’re thinking about writing a book but you’re really not sure how to push through the often-frustrating process, you might consider hiring a writing coach or surrounding yourself with a group of writers to help you to “The End.”

stressed african woman with computer

Writing Coaches

In a nutshell, a writing coach is like a physical trainer. They don’t do the work for you, but they can help you through the process.

A writing coach offers guidance through the developmental process. He or she will help you outline your book and plan the chapters. After defining the scope of your book, you and your coach will decide upon a calendar. Every week or so (depending on what you two decide), you’ll send a chapter to your coach via email. The coach will give feedback on each chapter. You’ll move forward through each chapter of the book with your coach’s input and a sense of accountability along the way.

Some coaches provide other services, but this is the basic gist of what writing coaches do and how one can help you reach your writing goals.

For the record, I am NOT a writing coach. I don’t use a writing coach, but I know authors who have used writing coaches, particularly for their first book or two.

The writing coaches I know well are all booked up for now, but you can send me an email if you’d like their contact info. If you’re a writing coach or if you know if a good writing coach, please feel free to post your contact info. in the comments!

Writing Critique Group

Study group

My first experience with a critique group came at the home of award-winning, seasoned author Lena Nelson Dooley (thanks, Lena!).

Here’s how it worked: One evening each week, we met and circled up in her living room on chairs and couches—sometimes as few as 5, as many as 12 or so. Whoever had something to read (up to 10 pages double-spaced) read their work aloud. Everyone listened and followed along (if that person brought copies for everyone to read). Lena commented first, then everyone else went around the circle adding their two cents. Some of the comments were praise, most were suggestions for improvement, all were helpful. Even if I didn’t bring a chapter, I learned so much by listening to the other writers’ work as well as the following critique.

We all wrote Christian fiction or non-fiction. Most were members of the local ACFW chapter, but some were personally invited.

Several of us who used to go to Lena’s formed a smaller group, closer in proximity. It’s been absolutely amazing to celebrate the achievements of the group. Since we’ve been meeting, 3 have signed multi-contract deals with major publishers and several have self-published with amazing success.

If you don’t know any authors who might invite you to a critique group, consider forming a critique group of your own! Quick tips:

1) For safety’s sake, I’d host it in a public place (library or café) unless you know everyone

2) My groups have been all-women. When I hosted a group in my home, we did move it to a library when men wanted to start coming. I don’t think my husband would have taken kindly to some dudes sitting up in his living room with me when he came home from work

3) My groups have also been comprised of people who read and write in the same genre, for the most part. When people understand the genre’s expectations, they are able to provide critique that lines your work up with the standards

4) In my current group, we don’t bring physical copies of our work. We send it via email ahead of time. Everyone makes their comments through Microsoft’s reviewing options. We send the comments back to the author via email after having our conversations.

If you’re not the one for meeting face-to-face or one-on-one coaching, you might consider virtual support groups (Google hangouts, FB groups, etc.). Any more ideas for how to collaborate with others to finish your work? Please post in the comments!