Coaching almost always proves a great pick-up experience for a person whose memoir is floundering. Your coach can help you access process and technique and point of view more rapidly than most people can on their own. But, a coach—even a great one—can only do so much for you.
There are things a writing coach cannot do.
Overmuch of the last two decades, I have coached many, many writers—more writers then I can remember. In those years, I have seen some people soar with the experience—it’s as if I can do no wrong—while unfortunately I have seen others coach with me for periods of time without making any apparent change or progress. Commit myself as I may, it’s as if I cannot do any good.
I have come to believe that there are three essential traits that a coach cannot do for you.
1. Your writing coach cannot provide you with discipline.
It takes much discipline to write a memoir. I can coach you on an all-day phone session. I can urge and cajole and furnish every reason to write on a regular basis but unless you are willing to do the work yourself of sitting down at your computer and of writing your memoir on a regular schedule, you are not likely to ever finish your manuscript. What finishing a memoir does not require is trying to write—a memoir requires writing!
2. Your writing coach cannot make you more courageous than you are willing to be.
Writers that I have worked with have oftentimes expressed that they cannot say certain things in their memoir because its likely to upset someone or even hurt many people. I ask them to name names for these “people” and what the writer will sometimes say is “It is my family. Everyone in my family.” Or, something equally amorphous, generalized.
I suspect that whom they are talking about is some sort of internalized aspect of their family that they are not willing to challenge vs actual people. And if they can name people, it may be someone in a distant part of the country whom they have not seen in 15 years and my never see again. Again, the objection seems to be internalized rather than actual
Alas, these people lack a fundamental courage to speak of their own truth. It may be that, in time, they will access this courage but for the moment, they cannot. As a result all they can write is a chronology of dates and facts.
3. Your writing coach can not furnish you with a vision about what your memoir can be if you think small.
Lack of vision complements to some extent lack of courage. People who have no vision write simply about day to day happenings, overviews of their lives. People who lack vision are not likely to tackle the memoir as if it is a hero’s journey which in fact it is nor are they likely to plunge into the writing so that it becomes itself a hero’s journey.
Instead they stay in the safe environment of easy writing. They tell funny stories and stories that have no depth to them.A writing coach, to some extent, can help these people but very frequently a person like this will not stick with coaching long enough to get through this lack of vision.
I wish I could say that I am able to bring every person through to a success publication of an insightful manuscript. But…
That requires a writer who is willing to bring discipline, courage and vision to the task.
Why not take advantage of our free coaching consultations, to find out how a writing coach can help you to write better, quicker memoir?
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