Hiring A Memoir Writing Coach

May 21, 2022 | Memoirs

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Memoir Writing: The Nine Things You Need To Know

Finding the right person can be a real challenge, regardless of the job. This applies to mechanics, contractors, and a memoir writing coach. The right fit matters a lot. 

I live in an old house. For the last ten years, in my basement, I’ve had an old bathroom and utility room. They’re next door to my office and for a very long time I have wanted to renovate them. 

It wasn’t until I found the right person for the job that I ended up going through with it. 

Many of the projects we undertake require us to look outside of our own skills and abilities to accomplish them. We all want to work with the right people. It’s quite natural, I think, to build partnerships more based on the feel of being around a person than their so-called expertise.

Although this notion has been around for a long time, I don’t think this is old fashioned thinking. This isn’t quaint. We need to feel a rapport with the person we’re entrusting with our work.

What Does A Memoir Writing Coach Do?

When it comes to writing, whether the project is a feature length screenplay or a novel, you want the writer you choose to understand you. You want them to really get what you’re looking for.

When it comes to a memoir writing coach, the need is similar. 

Think of a memoir writing coach like a consultant. You’re hiring a high level professional to help direct you to the finish. We take your memoir in whatever its current form, whether that means a finished first draft or still in scattered notes, and develop that idea into a publishable manuscript. We help you find new directions when you feel stuck. A writing good coach digs into the memoir’s core story and character conflicts and helps you come up with ways to improve them.

What Are The Three Keys?

What goes into making that kind of professional, creative relationship work? When I work with an editor or consultant, I look at three things:

  1. The ability to listen. A memoir writing coach needs to understand what you’re looking for out of your book. Are you looking to break in with a traditional publisher? Or is the intended audience family and friends? To understand that, they need to be a receptive listener.
  2. An expertise in storytelling. All the listening in the world isn’t going to matter unless that person is able to transform the product on the page.
  3. The ability to communicate solutions. In my mind, this is the most important element of all. The best memoir writing coach will understand what you’re looking for, apply their expertise to your work, and then come back with a creative solution. 

By now what I’m describing should be clear. I’m talking about rapport. I’ve worked with some fantastically talented editors and coaches. The ones I go back to, however, are the ones that understand me. They understand my work and where I want to take it.

Ask Your Memoir Writing Coach For A Sample

If you’re in the market for a memoir writing coach then take this bit of advice. Interview a few before making your final decision. Pay attention to how well they listen to you. Ask about their work enough that you get a sense of their story expertise. These are keys.

As a last important step, I recommend requesting a sample consultation. Ask some of your final choices to look at a chapter before hiring them. A sample edit, while imperfect, affords you the chance to receive their feedback. If you can take their feedback and constructive criticism and feel energized then you have the right person on your team.  

I hope this blog addressed some of your questions about hiring a memoir writing coach. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below.