Ask the Coach — Week 23

Date posted: August 24, 2011

 

[dc]T[/dc]his is the column where I answer a website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles. To submit your question, see the guidelines at the bottom of this page.

Dear Kerri,

I’ve worked in book publishing for almost four years, on the production side. I’ve always wanted to work in editorial, but I haven’t had any luck despite my experience and knowing I would be a great editor.

I had been thinking about becoming a life coach for about a year, so I did my research. Earlier this year, I enrolled in Coach U’s Core Essentials Program. I’ve really enjoyed the classes, but I’ve been thinking about who I want to coach and what my niche would be. Not surprising, working with writers (especially romance writers) came to mind, since that has been my dream.

In your experience, how is coaching writers different from regular life coaching? If you need to help them with their writing or manuscripts, do you bill them for the reading time?

Thank you for your help,
Curious Coach in Edmontoncoaching column

Dear Curious Coach,

Thanks for writing!

Yes, I coach both writers and non-writers, and I find that there are more similarities than differences. Whatever goal you want to pursue, a key component in succeeding is to get clear on what’s getting in your way. Many of my clients may say that they don’t have the time, they don’t know how to take the next step, or they don’t think they’re cut out for whatever it is they want to do, but I know that there’s always more to the story. If there is something we really, really want to do, but aren’t doing it, there must be a payout for us avoiding it.

This is where the similarities come into play. If a writer isn’t making progress on a project, there is most definitely a reason. And it’s never for a lack of time. (I’ll pause here while readers gasp and debate). It could be a fear of being seen, a fear of failure, a belief they hold about not being worthy or good enough, etc. So the payout of not moving forward is that they get to stay in their comfort zone — you know the place they say they so desperately want out of? 😉 Same goes for non-writers — what’s under the fear that’s preventing them from proceeding or making that change? It could be as simple as the next step being too big. This is where, together, we’ll break the steps down into much more manageable ones and set them up for success.

A writer-specific issue that comes up frequently is resistance to sitting down to write, or as one of my clients calls it “Ass on Chair time” (AOC). Instead of trying to push through the resistance, I encourage my writing clients to treat it as a collaborative partner and not the enemy, and, without fail, exceptional progress is made on their project. I’ll often spend a significant amount of time on this piece. I credit this ability to the years I spent coaching brand new writers who were terrified of the process, but really wanted to take it on. It truly is life-changing in the career of a writer.

As far as reading manuscripts or editing, for regular, ongoing, writing coaching clients, I’ll look at some of their writing as part of the month-long support I provide in their package. I do also work with writers in an editing/consulting capacity only. Most of that work happens electronically via email and is a separate service, typically charged on an hourly basis.

My last bit of advice? I wouldn’t worry too much about selecting a “niche” as it can really narrow the field. My niche, if I were to say I have one, are clients who “get it”. And by “it”, I mean the bigger picture in life. Clients who have done some emotional work on themselves; who understand and appreciate the fact that there is a beautiful Universal force ready to really behind them and support them. See how that “niche” is broader? But, that’s just me. I choose to keep my client base a bit open. Niches can certainly be important, but I wouldn’t spend too much time and energy on it.

Best of luck to you!
Kerri

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  1. Kerri,
    I really enjoyed reading your answer to the question about narrowing our niche as life coaches. It’s something I’ve wondered about myself. It seems everywhere I turn it is suggested to narrow our niche so that potential clients can know we “specialize” in their situation. However, I do work that can be effective with any situation. Because I use the Enneagram and work with parts of self, we get to the “underneath” of the matter and create a life-long shift. Thanks for your point of view!

    • Thanks for your input, Nanette! I think so many really talented coaches don’t end up expressing their full potential because they get bogged down in the whole “niche” idea. I completely agree with you that the work each of us does can help lots of different people.

      Love the Enneagram, by the way. So spot on!

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