a writing coach sitting outside a trailer writing in a notebook

Pros and Cons of Working with a Writing Coach on Your Next Novel, Screenplay, or Collection

7 min read

Since we’re getting literary here, let’s compare starting a new novel, screenplay, or poetry collection to setting sail on a vast, uncharted sea, filled with endless possibilities and potential pitfalls. As women navigating this literary voyage, we often find ourselves seeking guidance, support, and validation along the way. Some writers (both aspiring authors and the occasional experienced writer) hire a writing coach to help bring that new project to life. With writing being an inherently personal journey, the decision to collaborate with a coach demands careful consideration, as it could profoundly influence the trajectory of our creative endeavors. In this article, we’ll explore both the potential benefits and drawbacks of booking coaching sessions, empowering women writers to make informed decisions about their writing journey.

What is a Writing Coach, and How Do They Impact the Writing Process?

A writing coach is a professional who provides personalized guidance, support, and feedback to writers as they navigate the creative process from book idea to first draft to publication. Unlike editors who focus primarily on refining a manuscript’s final draft, a book coach will work with writers at various stages of their projects, from conceptualization to completion.

A writing coach with a proven track record will offer expertise in areas such as story development, character creation, plot structure, and writing technique, tailoring their guidance to meet the specific needs and goals of each writer. Writing coaches serve as mentors and sounding boards, helping writers overcome challenges, explore new ideas, and refine their craft.

By offering encouragement, constructive criticism, and practical strategies, writing coaches play a crucial role in empowering writers to unleash their creativity, enhance their skills, and bring their artistic vision to fruition. Through regular meetings, feedback sessions, and collaborative brainstorming, writing coaches facilitate a dynamic and supportive partnership that fosters growth and development throughout the writing process.

Will a Writing Coach Help Me Publish My Manuscript?

Writing coaches can also often provide valuable insights and guidance to help writers navigate the publishing industry. While their primary focus is typically on the craft of writing itself, many writing coaches have extensive experience and knowledge of the publishing landscape. They can offer advice on preparing query letters, crafting book proposals, researching literary agents or publishers, and understanding the submission process.

Additionally, writing coaches may have connections with major publishing houses or be able to provide referrals to agents, editors, or other industry professionals. By helping writers refine their manuscripts to professional standards and offering guidance on the publication process, writing coaches can increase writers’ chances of success in gaining access to the publishing industry.

However, it’s important to note that securing a publishing deal still depends on factors such as the quality of the writing, marketability of the book, and alignment with publishers’ interests and needs. A writing coach’s work is not to secure a book deal for you or other writers. They are simply there to help develop writing projects—whether those be novels or collections of poetry.

Pros of Working with a Writing Coach

Expert Guidance and Feedback

Working with a writing coach provides invaluable access to expert guidance and feedback tailored to your specific writing project. Writing coaches, often experienced authors or industry professionals themselves, possess a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of the nuances of storytelling.

They offer constructive criticism and professional insights aimed at enhancing your work, identifying strengths to leverage and areas for improvement as you write. Writing coaching can help you refine your narrative voice, strengthen your prose, and elevate your writing to a higher level of craft and artistry. Whether writing your first book or your tenth, they can help you develop your latest written world into a truly great book.

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Accountability and Motivation

One of the significant benefits of collaborating with a writing coach is the accountability and motivation they provide throughout the writing process. By establishing clear goals, deadlines, and milestones, writing coaches help keep writers focused and on track with their projects.

The regular check-ins and progress assessments foster a sense of accountability, encouraging writers to stay disciplined and committed to their writing goals. Additionally, knowing that you have a coach invested in your success can serve as a powerful source of motivation, inspiring you to persevere through challenges and obstacles on your writing journey.

Tailored Support

Writing coaches recognize that every writer is unique, with their own strengths, weaknesses, and creative preferences. One of the key advantages of working with a coach is their ability to tailor their support and guidance to meet your specific needs and goals as a writer.

Whether you struggle with plot development, character consistency, or dialogue authenticity, a writing coach can provide personalized assistance and targeted exercises to address areas where you need help. By understanding your individual writing style and aspirations, writing coaches can offer customized strategies and techniques to help you overcome obstacles and unlock your full potential as a writer.

Structure and Organization

Developing a clear structure and organization is essential for any writing project, whether it’s a novel, screenplay, or collection of short stories. Writing coaches excel at helping writers establish a cohesive framework and outline for their projects, ensuring coherence and flow in their writing.

From outlining plot arcs and character arcs to mapping out story beats and thematic elements, writing coaches provide valuable guidance in structuring your narrative effectively. By helping you establish a solid foundation and roadmap for your project, writing coaches empower you to navigate the complexities of storytelling with confidence and clarity.

Skill Development

Writing is a craft that requires continual practice and refinement. Working with a writing coach offers an excellent opportunity for writers to develop and hone their skills across various aspects of the craft. Whether you’re looking to improve your character development, dialogue mechanics, or plot pacing your work of fiction, a writing coach can provide targeted feedback and guidance to help you grow as a writer.

Through personalized exercises, practice prompts, and constructive critique, writing coaches facilitate skill development and mastery, empowering writers to elevate their writing to new heights of creativity and proficiency.

Cons of Working with a Writing Coach


Of course, no writing coach is completely free. One of the primary drawbacks of working with a writing coach is the potential financial burden it may impose, particularly for writers on a tight budget. Hiring a writing coach can be expensive, especially for ongoing or long-term engagements where the costs can quickly add up over time.

For writers who are just starting out or struggling to make ends meet, the cost of hiring a coach may be prohibitive, making it difficult to justify the expense against potential benefits. Additionally, even for writers who can afford coaching services, the cost may still be a significant consideration, especially if they’re uncertain about the return on investment or the likelihood of achieving their desired outcomes through coaching.

Compatibility Issues

Another potential downside of working with a writing coach is the risk of compatibility issues arising between the writer and the coach. Not all coaches may be the right fit for your personality, writing style, or creative vision, which can lead to friction or dissatisfaction with the coaching relationship.

Writers may find themselves clashing with their coach over creative differences, communication styles, or expectations for the coaching process. Additionally, if there’s a lack of rapport or mutual understanding between the writer and the coach, it can hinder the effectiveness of the coaching relationship and impede progress on the writing project.


Working closely with a writing coach may inadvertently foster a sense of dependency on the coach’s feedback and guidance, which can potentially undermine the writer’s confidence in their own instincts and voice. There’s a risk of writers becoming overly reliant on the coach’s validation and approval, seeking external validation rather than trusting their own creative intuition.

This dependency on the coach’s input can stifle the writer’s independence and autonomy, limiting their ability to take ownership of their writing process and make decisions autonomously. Moreover, if the coaching relationship were to end for any reason, writers may struggle to adapt to working without the constant support and guidance they’ve grown accustomed to, further exacerbating feelings of dependency and insecurity.

Time Commitment

Working with a writing coach requires a significant time commitment, encompassing regular meetings, revisions, and implementing feedback throughout the coaching process. This time investment may not be feasible for everyone, particularly writers with busy schedules or multiple commitments competing for their time and attention.

Writers may find it challenging to carve out dedicated time for coaching sessions amidst their other responsibilities, leading to scheduling conflicts or missed deadlines. Additionally, the time required for revisions and implementing feedback from the coach can prolong the writing process, delaying progress on the project and potentially increasing frustration or impatience for writers eager to see results.

Potential for Creative Clashes Now and in the Future

Finally, there’s the potential for creative clashes to arise between the writer and the coach, stemming from differences in artistic vision or creative direction. Writers may find themselves at odds with their coach over fundamental aspects of their project, such as the tone, style, or thematic elements.

These creative differences can lead to conflicts or disagreements regarding the direction of the writing project, causing tension or dissatisfaction with the coaching process. Moreover, if writers feel compelled to compromise their artistic vision or conform to the coach’s preferences against their own instincts, it can hinder their creative expression and autonomy, undermining the purpose of seeking coaching support in the first place.

Final Thoughts on Whether to Hire a Writing Coach

By weighing the pros and cons outlined in this article, writers can make informed decisions about whether coaching aligns with their needs, goals, and resources. It’s essential for writers to recognize that whether or not to work with a coach is a deeply personal decision, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. While coaching can offer valuable support and guidance, it’s not the only pathway to growth and development as a writer.

Writers should feel empowered to explore different avenues for support, whether through workshops, writing groups, self-study resources, or mentorship opportunities, that best suit their individual preferences and circumstances. Ultimately, writing is a dynamic and evolving process, and writers should trust their instincts and intuition in charting their own course toward creative fulfillment and success.