Road Trip Wednesday is a blog carnival, where YA Highway’s contributors and readers post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s take on the topic.
This week’s topic:
What kind of writing coach do you need? When you have to coach friends, what kind of coach are you?
Back in August, Sarah Enni posted about types of writing coaches and mentors—ranging from Always Positive Mr. Rogers to Boot Camp Tiger Mom. And she discussed the pros and cons of each type of coach. Here’s a quick recap:
1) The Positive Feedback Coach—Soothing and focused on a 'glass half full' feedback message. Always re-enforcing your strengths with the idea that positive feedback motivates (and it does!). But probably won’t tell you what’s not working with your story.
2) The Gentle Honesty Coach—still approaches critiquing with the Positive Feedback Coach mindset, but will share reactions and hesitations. This person may ask lots of open-ended questions that encourage the writer to explore the depths of his or her story.
3) The Brutal Honesty Coach—“this coach won't hesitate to push someone past their comfort zone with a mix of brutal critique and emotional honesty.” And while tough, this coach fully believes in you and gives you brutal honesty because he or she cares.
4) The Tear-You-Down-to-Build-You-Up Coach—no warm fuzzies here. This mentor “gives it to you straight” with no attempt to cushion.
While I do tend to be my own worst critic, I DO NOT need a Mr. Rogers coach in my writing life. Don’t get me wrong—positive reinforcement is something I need (ohmygosh yes!), but I need honest, tactful feedback when it comes to my writing. Not sugar-coating. Or somebody that will find the silver lining in everything. I can get that beta read from my mother. Or my daughter. (LOVE YOU BOTH!!!) And I do seek that from them at times because it’s nice to just have someone read my story and love it because I wrote it.
That being said, I am definitely in need of a mix of the Gentle Honesty Coach and the Brutal Honesty Coach. Someone who’ll point out the things that WORKED, things that made them laugh or cry. Things that show and don’t tell. Things that they LOVED.
But I also need to know what’s not working. I enjoy the reactive, thought-provoking questions that force me to dig deeper. But sometimes I need straight-up answers. And I need my critique partners to tell me when something just does not work.
And I need my Grammar Nazi Coach—someone to call me on my mis-comma use and to tell me to chill with all the ellipses and em-dashes.
As for Tiger Mom (the break-you-down coach)—sorry, I’ve got some thick skin and can tolerate a lot of punches, but all the time? No thank you. I’d probably shed way too many tears with that coach.
And I definitely don’t want this guy as my mentor.
I’m extremely fortunate to have found CPs and beta readers who are a strong mix of positive and brutal. They coach me through tough revisions and give me AMAZING feedback. And bonus—I know they all care about me, they want my story to be the best that it can be, and they want to see my stories and I succeed. THAT’s what I need most from a writing coach.
As for my writing coach style?
You know that saying, “Do unto others…” I am a complete combination of what I want in a writing mentor. Gentle and Brutal Honesty (or at least I think so). “Constructively brutal” I call it. I guess I give that kind of feedback because that’s the kind I’d like in return.
PS - GOOD LUCK to all my writer friends doing NaNo!!! I wish you ginormous word counts, superfantastical worlds and settings, characters the world will fall in love with, and stories that keep readers up way beyond bedtimes! I'm not participating this year (super busy revising), but I'll be YOUR NaNo cheerleader!!! Write, write, write!
So, how about YOU? What mentor-coaching style works best for you? Are you doing NaNo this year?!