Continuing ed.

Coaching executives to write nonfiction.

Just like the people who report to them, executives often need help improving their writing. Whether they are trying to write to or about their own businesses or nonprofits, executives, too, may need writing coaching. For C-level people and top managers, confidential, individual writing coaching may hit the spot. 

  • Adults know why they want to learn.
  • Adults approach learning as problem solving. 
  • Adults want to contribute to their own education.
  • Adults learn from experience, including mistakes. 
  • Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

Identify your own learning needs and objectives. Challenge yourself to participate actively. 

Q. What, really, is a writing coach?

A. She’s similar to a personal trainer at the gym. She reviews your manuscripts. She asks what aspects of writing plague or terrify you. She makes a “diagnosis” of where you need help.

Q. What does coaching look like?

A. You bring in the piece you want to discuss. I tease out the parts that might need work. I ask what you mean in a particular passage. I ask what verb would be stronger. I hint when your word choice is not precise.

Q. That doesn’t sound painful.

A. No, it’s not. We might discuss organizing, finding a better way to begin, avoiding repetition and lots more. It’s not painful. If you need help with leg raises, I don’t mention your arms. If you want to learn to create brighter metaphors and analogies, that’s all we discuss.

Q. How will I know if it’s working?

A. As your abs feel tighter and you can run like Rocky up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you know your training is working. As you begin to recognize a passive verb you have already typed and know you have to revise the sentence, you know it's working. 


Coaching clients

  • I coached a former president of CONRAIL. He came from extreme poverty, worked himself up to unimaginable heights and knew that he wanted to retire early and write about his art collection. We met weekly for six months as he built up his skills.
  • I coached the late Elliot Shelkrot, then president of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the 13th-largest public library system in the United States. He wanted to begin to write and speak about an enormous expansion of the Central branch, which, sadly, never happened. We attended some public forums to hear the Israeli/Canadian/ American architect, Moshe Safdie, and then we huddled in his office to work on his prose.
  • I coached the CEO of a chain of hospitals, helping her communicate to the CEOs of the medical facilities in her domain. The issue was tone: How to tell these people what to do while remaining respectful of people who were recently her peers. 
  • I coached the head of a mid-sized (100 lawyers) law firm to write articles about her legal specialty for publications that her clients and prospective clients read. After our first successful magazine placement, I worked with several small groups of attorneys in the firm. All but one learned to write what clients wanted to know and basked in the glory of a byline in print.