Who and what is a literary life coach?

Today’s guest post comes from a friend; Lisa Allen, who is not only a talent writer, but also a Literary Life Coach.

Family lore puts four-dozen Golden Books on my bookshelf before I turned two. As much as defining my familial reputation as the bookish one, I like to think that such an early relationship with words and paper has also served as a subliminal guide towards my role as a Literary Life Coach. What is a Literary Life Coach? Well, it’s another way of saying book shepherd, book midwife, or writing coach. I like to include the word ‘literary,’ as it is my way of implying quality for the end-product.

1182178016_50870517afIn the excitement of seeing their names in print, it is easy for first-time authors to overlook fundamentals, such as grammar and spelling, before self-publishing or querying a manuscript. Although I do not proofread, copy edit or edit manuscripts, my Rolodex of publishing professionals includes others who do. It is my mission to ensure that my clients’ projects have integrity, from the inside out.

A writer creates their own work schedule. This is where I bring out my virtual pom-poms. The Literary Life Coach is a customizable cheerleader, a writer’s accountability partner, with a mutually agreed upon timeline and an eye on the end-goal. Those pom poms are shaking, twisting and shouting during every phone check-in. Working with an accountability partner is a writer’s tool for keeping a project on track, an ongoing source of encouragement.

Everyone has a book in them, I say, and have always enjoyed talking with people about their writing projects (you don’t have to be a professional writer to have a book idea or publish a blog!), problem-solving concept and/or structural issues, encouraging writers and following up on their progress. A cross-pollinator of people and ideas, it is thrilling to help others make valuable connections, so if you meet with me, be sure to bring paper and pen for note taking. As the Literary Life Coach I work with non-fiction writers, primarily business owners, who use books or websites and blogs to strengthen their visibility in the marketplace — to help them make noise in the world.

Recently, I had a call from a business consultant who described her current project as “writing hell,” although she is already the author of several books. With input from her team of advisers, she had three versions of the manuscript. She was absolutely stuck on how to organize the chapters and how to edit out some elements that should be used for a different project. How lucky was I that she was vacationing at her lake house, and that we could meet there for a day-long session?! Together we worked out the best flow of information for her book, and, the true test, after sleeping on it, she was energized and focused and back on track.

A very different kind of project is the children’s picture book biography of a famous historic figure. The manuscript has been edited, finely groomed, given the thumbs-up by important people in high places, yet the author needed regularly scheduled check-in sessions to override self-doubt. With the manuscript already in good order, we have brainstormed publishing options and marketing strategies. I will soon be meeting with the author and her illustrator, an accomplished artist. It is exciting to see this project come to fruition.

Writing can be a lonely process. Belief in a project’s completion can feel elusive. For the duration of a story’s journey, a Literary Life Coach is that guide with a headlamp, a reassuring voice in the dark.

 About the author:

web_Headshot_Lisa Allen 2013 150x200Lisa Allen Lambert first discovered the lure of writing while researching and writing travel news at Yankee magazine. Later, she wrote, designed, and self-published Eating Clean, a cookbook based on the healing and healthful benefits of unprocessed foods. Recently, an excerpt from her MFA memoir thesis, “Paradise Not Quite Found,” was a finalist in the anthology contest “Times Were A-Changing.”

As the Literary Life Coach, Lisa can help you with your nonfiction book or blogging projects. She is the managing editor for Tall Poppy Writers (website launching in Sept.), a new online consortium that connects smart readers with smart books, and is the assistant residency director for a low-residency MFA program in creative writing.

15 thoughts on “Who and what is a literary life coach?

  1. This does seam ideal. I am currently writing my memoir and on the second draft of my manuscript. I feel myself searching through the dark corridor of my childhood and life, trying to phrase, and structure so the reader will feel as if they lived it with me. I have never written anything more than five pages for school before. Writing an entire book is a whole new concept.

    My focus in my own writing is so I can leave an imprint on the world. A way to say “this is who I am, this is what I do.” I find myself retelling story after story of my life, and finally decided to write a book to hand people.

    I hope to be able to give it to my children and loved ones one day so that they can see who I am. The places I have been, and the hopes for the future. Writing can be lonely and I can see the pull towards alcoholism and other substances. Once I start writing I enter this vortex of a whole new world. My mind gets transported to a different place and often it is hard to come back to reality.

    I wish to say thank you for being a guiding force to people who choose the endeavor of writing a book and being their light 🙂 Maybe someday I will have the chance to work with you 🙂

      • Thanks :)) Already put in over 300 hours into it and write a few hours here and there when I can. Sometimes through reflection it takes some time to emotionally process what I am writing before I can write again. my aim is not to simply say “this makes me sad” or “this makes me happy” but to describe the events around my life so readers can feel emotions with me. I look forward to finishing my second draft to start editing 🙂

  2. Pretty great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to mention that
    I have really loved surfing around your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing
    to your feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  3. Hi Lisa, it was good to see you again briefly at AWP. I was surprised to see you there, as I didn’t realize you were a literary life coach now. I tried to email you after AWP but I must not have your latest email address.

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