What do writing coaches do exactly?


As the marketihand under pile of papersng director for WriteAtHome (did I mention I’m also the president, sales director, curriculum designer, recruiter, coach manager, window washer, and parking lot attendant?) I have the hardest time explaining what it is exactly that writing coaches do. We coach, of course, but that’s a bit vague. What do we do with papers?

Customers usually ask if we “grade” papers. I say yes, but really that’s not a good description. We don’t even use grades. We “score” final drafts using a numerical rubric, but that’s a small and relatively insignificant part of what we do. In the same way “assessing” or “evaluating” is only the subjective part at the end.

We “critique” papers, but that has such a negative connotation; I don’t like it. “Edit” doesn’t quite cover what we do, since there’s much more to coaching than fixing errors. And “edit” implies that we make the corrections ourselves instead of directing students in how to do it. Nope; that won’t work.

We “comment” on papers. That’s nice and positive, but a bit nebulous. It can mean almost anything. Same goes for “respond.”

We both “encourage” and “correct.” Those two words cover the kind of balance we like to achieve–pointing out both the positive aspects of a student’s writing and the parts needing work. But I just don’t like the idea that it takes two words to describe what we do. It makes crafting marketing slogans and ads pretty difficult.

Do I need to invent a new word? If any reader out there has a suggestion, I’m all ears.

About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Merri

    The word ‘polishing’ comes to mind. . . I’ll keeping pondering this.

  2. Brian Wasko
    Brian Wasko04-05-2011

    Yes coaching and mentoring are good words for what we do overall. But what I can’t find is a good word to describe what we do when we work on papers. Edit, grade, proof, respond to, comment upon, mark up, critique, evaluate, assess…none of those quite encompass it, do they?

  3. Robin

    I’d agree with mentoring — that’s very much how I look at it ­čÖé

  4. Judy

    We “coach,” the same way my son’s coaches work with him in water polo. That word encompasses that we correct, encourage, suggest, push, mentor…

  5. Merri

    Brian ~ In one word, we Write at Home coaches *mentor* . . .thoughts?

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