Writing Coach vs. Mentor: What Is the Difference?

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing
on February 8th, 2021

We all need mentors to guide our way. Sometimes these mentors serve as role models. Other times they are people in our lives who give us practical advice on our hopes and dreams or show us who we can become. In the world of book writing, there is another mentor-like person who can support us throughout the creative journey. That individual is a book writing coach. Writing coaches and mentors have a lot in common, but there are several specific differences that set the two apart.

A Writing Coach Will Take You All the Way

Your book writing coach is a mentor, in a sense. However, most of the time, mentors lead their mentees up to a certain point and then allow the mentee to find their own way. Mentors don’t give away the secret sauce; they expect their mentees to find it during the journey. Your book writing coach will stay with you from your book idea’s inception all the way to the publishing pipeline. Writing coaches will not just show you the way but will also take you all the way.

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A Writing Coach Will Give You Homework

Book writing coaches love to give clients homework to strengthen writing skills. You may be challenged with a sensory exercise, where you recall a childhood memory in great detail. Or you may be asked to create a dialogue between yourself and someone you haven’t met yet. Your writing coach may invite you to line edit your work or see if you can find your own areas of strength and needs for improvement. Above all, your writing coach will give you homework in the creative areas you need it the most. Like any coach, you can expect feedback on your homework as well.

A Writing Coach Has to Be Invited In

Beyond the quite literal need to “hire” a book writing coach, you will need to invite the writing coach into your world. Mentors have a way of finding their mentees by happenstance. Or sometimes the mentees are simply drawn to the mentors after encountering them in person. Taking things a step further, there are times when a mentor appears in your life when you least expect it and challenges you to try a new path. This can come as a surprise. However, a book writing coach is someone you seek out. You deliberately search and find this person (or request them).

Fear not: a book writing coach is never arbitrarily assigned. There is a reason you two have been brought together. You just have to make the first move.

“Writing coaches will not just show you the way but will also take you all the way.”

A Writing Coach Is Craft-Specific

Mentors can and will guide you through any facet of life. Your book writing coach is there to help you tap into your story, put it on the page, and bring it to life. While exploring your story together, there will be plenty of vulnerable moments. Your writing coach will support you as you process and articulate those moments, but every speck of guidance will be craft-specific. A book writing coach is not a therapist, counselor, or support group guide. They will always be empathetic to your needs but, in doing so, will establish work-related boundaries to keep you on task.

A Writing Coach Is an Expert

Your book writing coach has had a lot of practice writing books and coaching writers to find their voices. They eat, sleep, live, and breathe writing. So when you hire a writing coach, you can be assured that they are devoted to your writing needs, excited to guide you through the wondrous world of storytelling, and capable enough to give you tough love when needed. No book writing adventure is ever the same, but the foundational aspects coaches use to guide their writers are standard and nearly universal. You can trust your book writing coach to give you honest feedback in constructive ways.

As you can see, book writing coaches and mentors are very similar. But if you’re looking for an expert who is craft-specific and will give you the guidance you crave, you may want to hire a book writing coach. They will assign you practice, evaluate your growth, and ultimately set you on the path to win your own individual book writing game.

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