Writing coaching: it's never just about the writing

cartoon of a set of dumbbells

It's amazing to see how a little bit of one-to-one writing coaching can transform someone's way with words.

But if there's one thing being a writing coach has taught me, it's that the writing is never just about the writing. Here are three reasons why.

1. Corporate culture = what really matters

Organisations are breeding grounds for bad writing. And when someone comes to me for some writing coaching, I usually discover their bad writing habits have been nurtured by their colleagues.

It can be hard not to give in when your peers think it's impressive to bang on about 'leveraging synergies' and 'delivering platforms for excellence'. Or if the top bods in the org have misguided ideas about 'signposting' (check out the free preview of Lecture 21 of my online report writing course to see what I mean).

Taking time out with a business writing coach can give you a fresh perspective on your firm’s writing culture. And that’s the first step in resisting the temptation to write badly.

In fact, often, my writing coaching is less about giving feedback on someone’s work.

And more about giving my coachee strategies for defending good writing in the face of pressure to write in pompous ‘corporatese'.

(For tips on this aspect of writing for business, see: Ten ways to stop that verbose exec from mangling your copySix more sneaky ways to make them write it your way and 13 arguments to try next time someone accuses you of dumbing down (and 1 you should avoid).

2. Writing coaching = therapy

It takes guts to get that first draft down - whether it's an HR strategy document or a childhood memoir, a report for the board or the great novel. So a session with a business writing coach can sometimes feel a little like therapy.

Because becoming a better (and quicker) business writer is as much about mastering the emotions as mastering technique. The biggest thing I do for my coaching clients is give them confidence to take a risk with a horrible first draft. And, of course, the confidence to push back against the corporate guff (see point 1).

3. Good thinking = good writing

Finally, as most of us know, good business writing is clear and to the point. And clear, to-the-point writing requires clear, to-the-point thinking.

So most of the hard work of writing is done before you even put words on paper. At least it should be. Knowing what you want to say, to whom and why is way more important than mastering every last rule of grammar.

Working with a business writing coach can help you break free of the frustrating and debilitating cycle of worrying what words to use.

Instead, I often get my coaching clients to focus on why they want to say something.

Or, best of all, whether they need to say it at all.