The Power of Getting Coached
Next up we're gonna talk about the power of getting coached. And the reason we're talking about this is because of this exciting partnership that we have with Creative Live to offer coaching to people in this class so you get feedback on these elements that we have talked about today. I started a coaching company because I believed that coaching gives you the project management support, emotional support, and editorial support that you need, especially at the beginning. I'm just a huge advocate for not going off in a direction. I mean, here's the thing, if you've never written a novel, why should you know how to write a novel? It's a really hard thing to do and we get in this head space where we think we've read so much, all of us are readers, we love to read, and we think, I can do that, and you probably can but there's some skills that you need to learn how to do it and I think the best way learn that is in one on one. I've taught a lot of courses, a lot of workshops, and it's very f...
rustrating to be a teacher in a writing workshop 'cause you can't give the sustained attention to the writers that you want. People want feedback on their pages, they don't wanna just talk about it, they want feedback on their work and that's what you get with coaching with that editorial support. And what these things lead to, the outcome is that you get confidence. You know when you're doing it right, your coach is gonna tell you when you're not. I mean, what we did with Jocelyn, we gave her some tough love about the middle of her book, you're gonna know when you're doing it well and when you're improving your skills. You don't have to guess, you don't have to wonder. And with that in mind, you wanna find a coach that you can trust is gonna give you the truth and there's a lot of ways to think through that but you just want that to be what you're looking for. And then you're gonna have clarity of what you're doing, why you're doing it, what you're aiming for, and you're not gonna be confused about what your story is. And then you're going to actually finish your book. Our mission is to help people actually finish their book. And those are the outcomes that come from coaching. You can sign up to get coached on the workbook for this course and all the materials for that on that yellow bar on the course page you can click on that and see, but we have quite a few people in the audience, actually, who have been coached by my coaches, which is wonderful. Thank you guys, all for coming. And some people from quite far away, it's wonderful. And we have the opportunity to speak briefly with one of our coaching students to hear what that's been like for her, so I wanna invite up Jocelyn, who's been a great sport so far. I feel like I've invited you over to my messy out. Sorry.
I don't see ants! We'll make it artful. Jocelyn, you have been coached for quite a while now.
Been through twice.
Right. So, what is it like?
Well, the first time through was with a book that I had started that I just could not get out of about the first hundred pages.
And what does that mean? I'm just gonna stop you, what does that mean? Like, did you just keep writing them?
I could not leave them alone. I was stuck in, this isn't perfect, this isn't working, I need to get the first chapter working, I need to get the first page working, I need to get the first five pages working. Then I'd go forward a little bit and then, oh, no, I gotta go back and start over again. And I just could not get out of that 50 to 100 page rut.
And were you going to conferences, workshops? What kind of input were you getting?
I was gettin' a little bit of input. I was going to conferences, I was meeting people, and I just kept feeling like I had to get that first 50 pages right so I could move forward. And like I said, I could not get out of them.
So, why did you choose coaching?
So, I've been following you for a while. And then Story Genius with Lisa Kron came up and I took that. The coaching program was relatively new and it spoke to me of accountability. And that's when I signed up, I told my first coach, I'm gonna go through this at 20 pages a week and I'm not going back, you can not let me go backwards. I'm not gonna rewrite a scene, I'm not gonna go back and look at a character, every week you're getting 20 new pages. 'Cause I knew I wouldn't get through it otherwise.
And did you do it?
I did it!
How did it feel when you were done?
The draft was ugly, I mean, it wasn't beautiful, I'll be totally honest, it was not beautiful. And there were parts that had I gone back I would've gotten stuck, but I just had to keep going forward. I would see the comments the coach would write and I would look at them and I would acknowledge them and then I would keep going because that accountability piece was so important.
So, talk about what that feels like. So, somebody's waiting for your pages, you've paid them, you've got a deadline, what does it feel like to miss that deadline?
Like you're walkin' out in the street and lighting money on fire. (laughter) That's really what it felt like. If I don't turn those pages in, I've just burned up a Benjamin.
Right. Did you trust your coach to tell you the truth?
The first feedback I got, honestly, I felt like, what are you saying? I was very resistant at first. And then I had to get my ego out of it and I had to take a step back and recognize I was coming in to learn something. No matter who it was, they were gonna have something to teach me, and I wasn't there to fight against the coach. I was there to get through the draft. And their goal was to get me through the draft. So, I had to manage my own expectations and recognize that this is a partnership and they're not putting up obstacles to stop me from getting through the draft, I have to recognize they're a partner in this and they're trying to help get me through the draft.
And what about the thing, I hear this a lot, people say, oh, they're gonna take my story away, like they're gonna make it their own or they're gonna impose their thing on me. Is that something you have ever felt?
No. I mean, I don't think so, because you can always not agree with what's being said. And I don't feel like the coaching experiences I've had anybody has said, take your mystery and make it a romance. They've made suggestions and I can say, I don't agree with that, or I can think about it and well, maybe there's something to this. And I can try it and I can try it on and if I don't like it, I can change it.
So, what I always say is that the coach is like a mirror, we're holding a mirror up to the writer to show you what we see. We're an avatar for the reader. What's their experience likely to be of this and if we hold that mirror up and you look at it and you think, no, I like that, and we're saying, I don't know, but you're saying, no, that's it, I think that's a really good outcome is we see this and you can either agree or not agree but we're not imposing. A good editor is never imposing their will on your pages, they're helping you write the best thing that you can write.
Well, and the second time I went through with coaching it was with revisions for that first draft, that first very ugly draft that I got to the end and I knew it needed work, and there was a section that wasn't working and then I emailed back and forth with my coach and said, this isn't working, I'm not quite sure why this isn't working, and we talked back and forth and she said, well, I'm gonna suggest this. At that point I was rewriting and so I went back and rewrote the chapter with her suggestions and it totally changed a bunch of things but it worked better. So, I was willing to try it.
And now here you are with a new story, starting at the very beginning and you've got some work to do in the middle.
Yeah. What middle now?
I know right. (laughter)
The vast money middle. Are you feeling confident? Like, what's your level of confidence in yourself as a writer?
I have a strategy now. I feel confident coming forward after going through blueprint for a book and sitting through today, I know I can sit down. It's like when I sat down and started penning out this story that you looked at today. I sat down on a Tuesday, penned out three or four different, kind of played with three or four different ideas, and I could go through the workbook and start answering questions almost immediately and start putting the piece, very raw obviously, but I could start--
Something, something, something, rawr. I could start putting the pieces together. And that was amazing because a year or two ago it was just like, I got a cool character, I got a cool world, and cool stuff's gonna happen.
Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. Does anybody have any questions for Jocelyn about what it's like to be coached or what that feedback looks like or anything you wanna know? Or of me? Yeah?
What was the actual format? Were you in Zoom with them or just getting the feedback in comments on a word doc? Tactically what was that like?
It was in Word. So, I turned the chapters or the pages in in Word and then my coach would go back with track changes and put comments in and then we'd upload everything to Dropbox, so there would be my original work and then there would be a new document that would be her edits so I could see both of them.
And in our core program you would have phone calls with the person as well. With this program for creative live it's all email based, word based, but you're gonna get those kind of comments like you saw me making on you know, this is good, this is looking great, I'm not sure about this, how does this relate back to that, where's the and so, and so what's the point, you know, you're gonna get that poking holes and we have a rubric for sort of scoring each one of these elements of the workbook so you can really have a clear idea of what to work on and how to move forward.
Let's go here and then in the back.
Did you Skype at all with your coach?
I did not.
So, you don't know what your coach looked like or seen them?
Well, I know from the website.
It's actually a really good question. So, there are many different levels of help that one can get in the world and there is a form of coaching, one on one customized coaching where you would get Skype or Zoom or constant interaction and feedback. What we're tryin' to do at Author Accelerator is make the coaching very accessible. So, we have some limits upon it to make it a price point that most people can afford and that was the goal of that. So, the core program doesn't have that interaction so we can keep the price down, but if it's a think that you desire, from us and from other coaching companies, there are more customized versions of doing that. And if you're looking for a coach or an editor there are so many good ones out there, and like I said, the thing you really wanna look for is are they gonna tell you the truth? I think that's the most important thing because the worst possible thing is, I think the worst possible thing is somebody who's just gonna go in and well, do what my husband did, which is, here's the commas, and never stepping back and saying, well, wait, your whole thing isn't holding together. So, I think that the key thing to look for, no matter the format, is do they appear to you to be somebody who's going to tell the truth. There's a question back here.
Two parts, it's really about the process of coaching. So, how do you match somebody and then the other part is, you wrote your book, then what happens? I don't know what the aftercare is.
What a great question. That's like a big old softball pitch to my own self. I understand what you're asking because there's so much frustration in the writing world about what's the path, what do I do, so what I showed before was the path for writing the book. So, you write a rough draft, you revise it, you get feedback, you revise it, now you have a polished draft, now you're gonna go out and get it published. My company provides a success path at every one of those stages, right up until publication. You actually did the revision. We have a revision class, if I recall correctly, we kinda tore it apart a little bit.
You tore it apart. Yeah.
Yeah. That's a thing we did. And then we help you build it back up, we have a whole program for helping you pitch. I should also mention Creative Live has a number of amazing classes on this success path as well. If you look at those courses on the Creative Live website, there's courses on writing a book proposal, there's courses on revision, there's a beautiful course on writer's block. You mentioned Lisa Kron, she has a great class here at Creative Live. They're building out a really fantastic library of writing courses that you can get the help that you need at every step of the way, so you definitely want to get that help all the way through. A lot of people get very confused at the choice of publication of what to do and I taught a course on here at Creative Live about how to get an agent and some of the choices around that. There's a lot of good information. There's big decisions at every step of the way and again, it's trusting the source and trusting the information that you're getting. But the goal with our coaching program is to get you all the way through to write the best book you can. We can't guarantee that you'll sell a single copy but we can guarantee that you'll write the best book you can. This is an opportunity to have a little bit of coaching which is usually a hard thing to get and this partnership with Creative Live allows us to offer, we'll give you a taste of what it's like. You can see what it's like to get this feedback on your work. And you asked about the matching. In my company we're very proud of our matching process, we call it our secret sauce and we have this giant spreadsheet of who our coaches are, what genres they coach in, really weird things about them like do they have a dog. I mean, it actually matters because a lot of books have dogs in them. Do they ride horses, do they know about sports? You know, like whatever the thing is and we actually do our matching in a very human centered way. You can see me smiling. It's the thing that I think is the most fun because, well, you can speak to this, people tend to end up really loving their coaches.
Yeah. I've worked with three different coaches through the program. When I went through again for the revision I picked a new coach, not because it was anything about the coach but I wanted new eyes looking at the piece from a different perspective and I think that's really valuable. You can stay with the same coach. I've gotten great coaches.
I think they're all great. So, I would point you to the course page, the yellow box gives you the coaching option that we bundled with this course and again, you'll get feedback on all the things we've talked about in your workbook and you'll get it within three weeks of signing up and you'll get that meaty feedback so that you know where you stand so you can write forward with confidence. And we'd love to have you check that out and give it a try, and then of course look at the whole catalog of Creative Life courses. They keep adding all the time to the writing catalog, so check it out and you should probably find what you need there.
Is there any deadline to submit all the workbook?
Yes, it's within six months of your making the purchase. And it says all that on the sign up page, to turn your work in within six months and then we'll get it back to you within three weeks. Great. Well, I think that's it. Thank everybody for coming and for giving all your energy today and good luck with your books.