What is writing coaching?

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 two copies of the piece we are about to discuss. I read it on the spot and tease out the parts that might need work. I ask what you meant in a particular passage. I ask what verb would be stronger than did in that sentence. I hint when your word choice is not precise.

Q. That doesn’t sound painful.
A. No, it’s not. We can talk about organizing the piece, finding a good way to begin, avoiding repetition and lots more. It’s not painful precisely because I am training you. 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. You’ll know before I do.

Q. Suppose I can’t get to your office at a convenient time? Suppose I want a writing coach but am not in Philadelphia?
A. No problem. We can e-mail your docs or post them online. We can talk by phone, Skype or any other device you discover. I’m open.

Q. Can I try it without signing up for a big package?
A. Absolutely. I’m happy to offer 15 minutes of free coaching on the phone. Then you can hire me for an hour. After you decide you’d like to work with me, I’d like you to sign up for three sessions at a time. I recommend one to two hours at a time.

Q. If I’m not quite sure yet?
A. You can sign up for an hour of one-on-one. Then decide whether to move on.