Writing: Working on a basic coaching process

The cycle

Schrijvers en coaches

Writers and coaches

1: Selection process

Writers are selected and approached by coaches based on their potential as a writer (voice, unique voice, promise as aspiring writer). Sources can be existing story contests (and magazines).

One of the primary factors is in my opinion age: younger than 25 years old. I am aware aspiring writers can be of any age and setting age as a filter excludes a set of people equally deserving coaching. But you need to start somewhere.

Two factors play an additional role in the next step of selection:

  1. Is there a willingness to work?
  2. Is there a willingness to listen to feedback and criticism?

If the writer shows potential, is willing to work and willing to listen, this writer can be considered to be eligible for the coaching trajectory.

2: Shape

The shape of the coaching process in this model is shaped as follows:

  1. One year intensive — One year to learn it all.
  2. 5 meetings — Obligatory. Each 2 months separated from the other
  3. 5 stories — Obligatory. Finished. Ready for publication.
  4. 3 story-deadlines per period — For each stage in the process, at least 3 clear deadlines are set:
    1. Draft
    2. First finished version
    3. Final and revised version
  5. Feedback from coaches — Provision of feedback from at least 2 to 3 different coaches during the year, in three stages of the story: a) draft, b) first finished version, c) finalized version
  6. Feedback from peers — Writers will feedback each other: helping each other to apply instructions and deliver a story to their coaches that is more than a rough draft.
  7. Assignments — Obligatory. during this period, coaches will give the writers 5 assignments to work uit in one of the 5 stories. This can be a theme, a certain element, or the use of a certain style.
  8. Theory — During the 5 meetups, 3 hours will be spent on theory on writing and story building. 3 hours will be spent on other things.
  9. Writing workshops — Obligatory. During the 10 months, in thins model, writers have to follow existing workshops given by other writers in the genre.

3: Coaching process

  1. Selection of writers — Coaches will select the writers they might want to coach. In basis this will be 1 or 2 writers. Coaching more writers is possible but not a requirement.
  2. Feedback — The feedback will consist of clear instructions (“do this, change that, do so and add so and so”), feedback in the document and feedback on the story as a whole (gaps, points for improvement)
  3. Support — Support can consist of this: finding out what is wrong when things take too long. Helping solve small issues (writers block, whatever). Important is that the coach focuses on the writing process only and let the writer produce and do the work.
  4. Result — Per cycle, the coaches will look at the results. These results are this and only these two things:
    1. Did the writer implement the feedback?
    2. Did the writer produce result?
  5. Exit? — When a writer does not produce result (stories, implementation of feedback) a possible exit of that writer is considered. (Maybe offering a place to writers who did not make the selection process at first.)
  6. Is the work publishable? — If the work is publishable (it’s a story, it’s engaging, it has a beginning and an end and it could sell) the coaches will help the writer choose a platform and stimulate the writer to get the story published or use it for a contest.

4: Expected outcome

  1. Growth — Some writers will benefit incredibly form the process.
  2. No change — Some writers will remain on the same level as they started
  3. Dropouts — Some writers will either drop out or be asked to exit.
  4. Unexpected — Some writers might surprise the coaches in any way possible

All is valid.

The gap

Playfield

Playfield now?

The current playfield in Holland covers magazines, publishers (pro, semi pro, self-publishing) but hradly any support for aspiring writers. This lack of support includes:

  1. Education — How do you write? What are the different direcitons you can take? The different narration forms? What works for what audience? What not? Why? How do you select?
  2. Feedback — So you wrote a story. But who will give you proper feedback? Tell you where you can improve? Make it better, let it surpass itself?
  3. Work attitude / writing like a pro — An important part of writing is work: research, editing, reworking, rewriting, implementing feedback. Part of the work attitude is: how do you deal with criticism and feedback? Can you listen to instructions and make your deadlines?  In brief: when you want to break through to more professional writing, including working with publishers, it helps to know how to write and work like a pro.
  4. Support — This includes but is not limited to all the above.

The intention of this coaching-process is to fill as much of that gap now with what we can do today, for the people we can support. The intention is to get to this:

A better playfield

Emerging playfield in 2014?

Further

1: Writers to become coaches

In the ultimate situation, the writers will learn all the basic traits to become coaches themselves. It might be that writers are invited to run the second yer, but than providing feedback from their points of view to the new batch of writers, helping to build their own skills.

2: Contact with different platforms

Magazines, publishers (both pro and semi-pro), magazines, sites.

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