With Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach, you'll gain clarity and overcome hurdles to become a better writer, pursue publishing, and reach your writing goals. Ann provides practical tips and motivation for writers at all stages, keeping most episodes short and focused so writers only need a few minutes to collect ideas, inspiration, resources and recommendations they can apply right away to their work. For additional insight, she incorporates interviews from authors and publishing professionals like Allison Fallon, Ron Friedman, Shawn Smucker, Jennifer Dukes Lee, and Patrice Gopo. Tune in for solutions addressing anything from self-editing and goal-setting solutions to administrative and scheduling challenges. Subscribe for ongoing input for your writing life that's efficient and encouraging. More at annkroeker.com.
What’s a Writing Coach (and what kind do I need)?
Have you ever wondered what a writing coach is?
As you can imagine, I get asked this a lot. I mean, it is baked into my branding, and I love sharing insights I've gained over my years of coaching.
Let's start with the simplest, broadest definition of what a writing coach is and does:
A writing coach provides you with input and support designed to close the gap between where you are as a writer and where you want to be.
I coauthored the book On Being a Writer with Charity Singleton Craig (2014), and our editor used similar language on the back cover copy of the book and in marketing materials:
Let this book act as your personal coach, to explore the writing life you already have and the writing life you wish for, and close the gap between the two.1
That phrasing captures the foundational purpose and core intent of this coaching role in a writer's life, so I adapted it here.
And as a writing coach myself for over a decade, I can confirm that this is indeed a high-level description of writing coaching.
Differences in Writing Coaches
Every coach approaches the work differently based on their experience, background, training, and philosophy. As a result, not every coach will feel like the right fit for you.
In fact, you may need one kind of coach at one stage in your writing journey and another kind of coach later.
Bottom line: you want to find someone ready to address your current goals and challenges.
Writing Coaches Are Not...
To begin to understand what a writing coach is and does, let's look at what a writing coach isn't.
➤ Writing coaches are not editors
A coach may have been and may still be an editor. They may offer both services and, thus, be both a coach and an editor. They may also offer editorial input within their coaching style. But these are two different services, so writing coaches are not editors while they are coaching.
➤ Writing coaches are not agents
A coach may have been and may still be an agent. But these two services must be distinct and separate, since authors never pay for representation. If you find an agent who offers coaching, be sure the service you're paying for is coaching.
➤ Writing coaches are not ghostwriters
A coach may have been a ghostwriter and may still offer ghostwriting as a separate service, but a coach's role is not to collaborate or do any of the writing for you. You're the writer!
➤ Writing coaches are not social media managers or designers
A coach may have personal experience and success in social media, and offer ideas to increase engagement with followers. They may recommend social media managers and designers. But writers don't hire coaches to set up marketing campaigns or design Instagram images.
➤ Writing coaches are not marketing and promotion specialists, publicists, or launch team organizers
A coach may offer marketing, publicity, or launch team services in addition to coaching. Authors who become coaches may pass along insights from their own marketing and publicity experience. But when coaching a client, they are not marketing or publicizing their client’s work or organizing a launch team.
➤ Writing coaches are not mentors
My writing mentors—I've had at least five—invested time in me, guiding and steering me through phases in my career, and from those relationships,
Find Your Book Midwife, Say “Yes” Before You’re Ready, Pitch to Build Platform, and Authentically Engage with Readers (interview with author Clarissa Moll)
For author Clarissa Moll, hiring a writing coach was like finding her book midwife, and she urges writers to seek that kind of intimate, knowledgeable support and input for their own writing and publishing journey.
In this interview, Clarissa shares her approach to writing, platform, and publishing, like:
* make a list of 10 things whenever you're stuck or developing an idea* say “Yes” before you’re ready* pitch publications as a core platform-building activity* authentically engage with readers—she's committed to building connections and offering support
Listen to episode 242 and check out excerpts below. You'll be inspired by her clear, sensible, inspiring personality and advice.
Clarissa Moll is an author and podcaster and the young widow of author Rob Moll. Clarissa's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, RELEVANT, Modern Loss, Grief Digest, and more. Her debut book, Beyond the Darkness: A Gentle Guide for Living with Grief and Thriving After Loss is forthcoming from Tyndale (2022).
Clarissa co-hosts Christianity Today's "Surprised by Grief" podcast and hosts the weekly hope*writers podcast, The Writerly Life. She lives a joyful life with her four children and rescue pup and proudly calls both New England the Pacific Northwest home.
Enjoy these highlights from Clarissa's interview.
Find Your Book Midwife
As folks in my life kept saying to me, "You should write a book!" I thought, I don't even know where to start.
I mean, I can write a five-paragraph essay. I can write a thesis. But to write 55,000 words? It seemed like an elephant that was too big to swallow.
I knew that to do it well, in a way that was sustainable in my own life, I needed to make sure that I was having a meaningful life outside of my writing.
And I knew if I wanted to do this again—if I didn't want to end at the finish line so exhausted that I said, "No more. This is it."—I knew I needed some guidance.
And so I reached out to you.
I gave birth to my four babies with a midwife, and when you're in that delivery room, that baby feels like the only one that's ever been born. And isn't it wonderful to have a midwife stand beside you, who's seen hundreds of delivered, to say, "This is normal. You're doing great!" To be able to offer that encouragement and guidance along the way.
And so I found in you my book midwife. You're the person who helped me to make that journey from just a nebulous kind of idea to something that's really concrete.
Make a List of 10 Things
One of the exercises that I have gone back to time and time again is one that we did together.
You encouraged me to write a list of 10 things. And if I struggled with making my list of 10, I had to write another 10.
When you're out of ideas, just force yourself to put pen to paper. That's where clarity is born.
It's not born in the writer's retreat over a long weekend or at a cabin by the lake. It's born out of those very ordinary, disciplined kind of practices that you taught me.
Say "Yes" Before You're Ready
Back in my acting days, I had an audition and the acting professor said, "Could you do an Irish accent for this audition?"
I said, "Oh, I don't know how to do that. I'm sorry.
10 Ways to Start the Writing Process When You’re Staring at a Blank Page
Louis L'Amour is attributed as saying, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”1
Sounds easy enough, but a lot of times we can’t even find the faucet. Or we find the faucet but fail to turn it on.
Either way, we want to write, but no words flow.
Is that you?
Are you ready to begin writing but you don’t know where to start—you don’t know how to get the words to flow?
I’ve got 10 options for you—ten faucets, if you will. I’ll bet one stands out more than the rest.
Pick one. Try it.
See if it gets those words flowing.
1. Start with a memory
Think back to an event that seems small yet feels packed with emotion. You don’t have to fully understand it. Just remember it. Something changed due to that event. The change may have been subtle or seismic, but you emerged from it a different person.
The simple prompt “I remember” can get you started. Use it as a journal entry and see where it takes you, or go ahead and start writing something more substantial.
When you remember and recreate these scenes from your past, you’ll learn from them. I experienced this when I wrote a short scene in this style, called One Lone Duck Egg.
2. Start with a photo
Photos can whisk us back to another place and time, whether as recently as last week or as long ago as childhood.
Pull a photo from your collection of family photos, physical or digital.
Write in response to the scene. Recreate it. Let the memories unfold.
You could be in the photo, or not.
You could write the story behind the moment, or elaborate on a particular person in the scene.
* What do you think was happening? * Why were you—or weren’t you—there? * What does this say to you today?
Another approach is to combine words with images to create a photo essay.
Back in 2011, I walked around the farm where I grew up and snapped photos. Each time, a fragment of thought came to mind, a flash of a memory.
When I got home, I pieced it together to come up with Dancing in the Loft.
3. Start with art
Art ignites imagination. Whether you invent a story behind the piece of art you choose, or you document your response to it, you’ll end up with an interesting project.
One of my creative writing professors in college gave us a similar assignment to write poetry from art. It’s possible she was trying to introduce us to ekphrastic poetry,2 which, according to the Lantern Review Blog,3 is “written in conversation with a work(s) of visual art.”
But she took a less formal approach, asking us to find some art, study it carefully, and write a poem.
I used a small, framed print of an Andrew Wyeth painting as inspiration.
Embrace These 4 Key Roles for a Flourishing Writing Life
I was an English major with a creative writing emphasis. When I looked to my future, I saw myself writing.
Over the years I managed to build a writing career, but as an English major, I wasn’t prepared for the business aspects of writing.
Invoices, receipts, taxes? That was all foreign to me. Sharing my writing through speaking and social media? That’s not what I imagined when I launched my writing life.
I thought I’d be...writing.
But I had to understand and embrace the four key roles that lead to a flourishing writing career.
This is how I think of them:
These four roles in a corporate setting might be something like:
The Decider is like the CEO, the Chief Executive Officer. That’s the top dog, the visionary, the decision-maker.
The Delegator could be the COO, the Chief Operations Officer, the person who figures out how to run the business at a practical level.
The Doer could be the CWO, the Chief Writing Officer. This role, the CWO, doesn't exist in the business world, but we're inventing and elevating it for this discussion because it’s the reason our business exists. Like me, you launched this whole thing so you could write.
The Declarer is like the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer: the person who ensures the message gets out.
At any given moment, a flourishing writer may be completing a task that falls under any one of these areas. Some of the tasks and roles don’t seem like the work of a writer, but they all support that core function.
When all four areas are addressed, a writer will start to build a profession, a career, and a sustainable writing life.
And it starts with the Decider.
THE DECIDER, THE CEO
The DECIDER—the boss, the CEO—is the person making high-level decisions about your writing career.
You fill this role.
You decide your author brand, your audience, your career path.
As the Decider, you determine a trajectory that aligns with your goals and values.
* You decide if you’re in learning mode and need to gain more skills or more knowledge of the profession.* You decide if you’ll focus the next quarter on submitting to literary magazines or developing a book proposal.* You decide if you’ll pursue fiction or nonfiction, short-form or long-form.* You decide if you’re ready to increase visibility online.
When those decisions are grappled with and made, you get to step into a second, practical role—that Delegator, the COO.
THE DELEGATOR, THE COO
The DELEGATOR-you, this COO, is the administrator, the project manager—the person who figures out who will be responsible for a task or activity.
When you’re the Delegator, you take those decisions and figure out the best way to pull them off.
If you decide, as the CEO, you need to learn, then the COO or this Delegator-you will research books, courses, and conferences and figure out which ones are best.
The Delegator looks into social media solutions and determines whether to hire someone to map out a ...
How Simple Systems Can Unlock Your Writing Productivity, with Kari Roberts
If you're like me, you struggle to carve out time to write...you wish you could uncomplicate life and get more done.
Good news! I have business coach and online business manager Kari Roberts on the show to help us think through simple systems that can unlock our writing productivity and creativity.
"It's like you're on a treadmill," she says. "You're running in place, but you're not going anywhere. So you're not really getting anything done."
Sound familiar? Kari knows our struggles and offers solutions. She says, "You might need to strategize or systematize other things so that you can make the space that you need to do the writing."
Kari Roberts is a business coach and online business manager for creative small business owners. She helps them figure out time management and systems that allow them to grow their business while still having enough time and energy for work, business, and home life. Her business advice has been featured on VoyageATL Magazine, The Rising Tide Society, The Speak to Scale Podcast, Creative at Heart Conference and more.
Kari is the host of Finding Freedom with Simple Systems Podcast and the creator and host of Overwhelmed to Organized the Summit. When she isn’t being a “serial helper” through one of her businesses she enjoys watching sports with her husband, walking in the park with her 2 dogs, listening to podcasts, sampling tasty bourbons, and catching up on reality TV.
Her approach to creating systems? "I like to go in and try to find: What's the simplest way. If we're trying to get X done, what's the simplest way to get to X. It may not be the fancy thing. It may not be with the shiny object. But if we can condense it and make it simple, then that can free up your time and free up your mental space so that you can get other things done."
Listen to the interview and you'll learn principles that may transform your approach to writing...and life.
* Kari Roberts' website* Kari on Instagram* Finding Freedom with Simple Systems Podcast* Get your very own copy of Kari's Time-Blocking Schedule: HERE* Simple Systems Setup course
ANN KROEKER, WRITING COACH
Episode 239 Transcript
How Simple Systems Can Unlock Your Writing Productivity: Interview with Kari Roberts
Ann Kroeker (00:03): It's so hard to find time for writing, isn't it? It's hard to do all the things a writer needs to do these days. If only if only we had a simple system that we could set up to make the rest of our creative life flourish…I have business coach and online business manager Kari Roberts here today to help us think through simple systems we can set up to increase our writing productivity. I'm Ann Kroeker, writing coach. If you're new here, welcome. If you're a regular, welcome back. I'm sharing my best tips and training–skills and strategies—to help yo...
Decoding Greatness: Discover the Fast Track to Writing Success
What if the stories we've been told about success are wrong?
What if you could unlock secrets that shave years off your writing journey?
In this interview, Ron Friedman demystifies the writing process and introduces a surprising path—a fast track, if you will. He says "it is the path by which so many writers and artists and inventors and entrepreneurs have succeeded."
What's the path?
To reverse engineer, we start with extraordinary projects and work backward to figure out how those writers pulled it off.
"By comparing the ordinary against the extraordinary," Ron says, "we can't help but identify the elements that make extraordinary work succeed, and thereby improve our skills."
With this book Decoding Greatness (June 2021), Ron hopes to offer "tools to not just execute at a higher level, but to embrace some of those dreams they've abandoned from their youth."
Listen to our conversation for practical insights you can apply right away. When you hear and implement his ideas, your approach to writing will never be the same.
You will, after all, learn the secret—the fast track—to writing success!
* Decoding Greatness website * Ron Friedman, PhD's website* Decoding Greatness on Amazon (affiliate link)* Decoding Greatness on BookShop (affiliate link)* Learn from the Best: Copywork for Grownups* Learn from the Best: Imitate but Don't Plagiarize* Grow as a Writer: Surround Yourself with Excellence* When You're Not the Writer Your Want to Be
Ready to write a book, but you can’t quite articulate your idea?
Join the FREE 3-day challenge: Craft Your Book’s Big Idea, and you’ll finally put words to the idea you long to write.
In just three days, you’ll nail your book’s big idea (and generate a working title)! Sign up and finally move forward with the message that’s in you…just waiting to come out!
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Bitesized Awesome Tips
Ann’s podcast is such a delight and I find myself learning so much more in these smaller podcasts than what I might retain if her shows were longer. Not only does she give great ideas, tips and exercises but she’s very encouraging too. Keep it up! And I am going to keep listening!
Excellent topics and resources
A very well produced podcast, both in quality and breadth of topics. Truly helpful, definitely recommend a listen!
The perfect pick-me-up podcast for writers
Ann has a delightful way of motivating and inspiring writers to approach their craft with a positive head space. She is constantly finding to ways to encourage creativity in the writing process and does so with such humble grace. One of my favourites!