Earlier this year, Fox Vernon decided to expand his coaching website. What happened next was something many of us experience: He just couldn’t get moving on it. As the project slid further down his to-do list, his frustration with it grew, making it even less likely the project would ever launch. We’ve all been there, right? He asked me for some informal support (we've been friends for years) and realized a more formal arrangement could be helpful. Read on to learn more about his decision to hire a writing coach.
Do I need a writing coach?
a guest post by Fox Vernon
Well, honestly, at first I didn’t want a writing coach. My wish was that I could just get the project done on my own. I know how to write, after all, and I’m a good thinker, so I figured this was just an issue of motivation. Also, in my hope that I could do all this work on my own, I inevitably just kept putting it off. I had lots of different ideas about what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know where to start. And frankly, it just wasn’t getting done. I was stuck. And week after week and month after month, my website wasn’t getting the refresh that I felt it needed. So I became more and more “blah” about the whole affair.
At some point, I relented, and invited Margot into my process to help me get this writing project done. It was a question of did I want this project done? Or did I need to do it myself out of my own pride? Did I want to refresh my website or was I looking to expand parts of my business? Honestly, now that I look back, I was conflicted inside, held back by my own self-doubt, indecision, and lack of confidence. So it wasn’t that I wanted a writing coach. No, the truth was that I needed a writing coach.
How a writing coach can help
And what did I need help for? Simply to have an accountability buddy? Well, partly, yes, that’s one thing I definitely needed: someone to hold me accountable. It’s amazing how much a coach helps with accountability, and just that gentle presence can change my internal dynamic such that I become much more productive. I just get things done. And those things don’t have to be perfect anymore...well, I still want them to be perfect, but knowing that I’ve told someone I will do it just helps me finish and hand things off even if I know they are far from finished.
But beyond accountability, I think a larger and deeper issue is that my self-doubt, indecision, and lack of confidence all were a big mess of negative emotions and confused thinking, and it was not a place I could drag myself out of on my own. (Nor did I want to drag myself into it...so I just procrastinated and procrastinated.) Sometimes I can pull myself out of the doldrums of self-doubt on my own. But usually I can’t or won’t. I need someone to accompany me into the quagmire of my thoughts and feelings to help me sort things out. And when I finally brought Margot aboard, I started to gain some clarity and some traction. Now admittedly, some of the clarity came from Margot and not me. And some of my new confidence again, originated from Margot and not me.
But that's exactly why I needed a writing coach! I needed someone else’s levelheadedness and optimism to rub off on me. And it rubbed off on me because when she said it or did it (or wrote it), and I could witness it more objectively, it made sense to me. But when I was saying it to myself, I didn’t trust it.
Working with Margot provided a combination of guidance and compassion mixed with challenge and motivation. I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t doing it. I knew I could do it (and I was right about that), but the bald truth was I was not doing it. I needed someone else to come down into the mess of my unfinished paragraphs and half-baked ideas and tell me what made sense to them and what would actually work. Once I had that, I was off and running!
There are many additional ways a writing coach offers help (say, organizing projects into bite-sized pieces, providing feedback on writing, giving tips about how things are usually done according to current standards and thinking, and more), but for me, the main thing is the emotional support to get through the yucky feelings of deflation and stagnation, and move to getting a project completed. Nothing feels better than that: getting the thing done!
See the resulting website here: foxvernonmusic.com
Alexandria, Va.-based Fox Vernon is a licensed clinical psychologist, offering individual, couples and group therapy to adults wanting more from life -- including creative expression therapy. He is also a music coach, helping musicians and songwriters hone their crafts and complete their projects.