Lorraine Pintus is an international speaker, author, and writing coach known for her bold teaching on women’s issues such as sex, hormones, parenting, marriage, and intimacy with God. She has been a guest on hundreds of radio and TV programs and is the author of six best-selling books, including Jump off the Hormone Swing , Intimate Issues, and Intimacy Ignited.
Today, we’re focusing on Lorraine’s role as a writing coach who helps other writers craft their message and discover their voice.
Please help me welcome, Lorraine, as she shares encouraging insights for Inspire writers from a coach’s perspective.
Thanks for joining me, Lorraine. Why did you decide to coach writers?
I never set out to be a writing coach. God just sort of eased me into it. As God graciously gave me increased success in the publishing arena, wanna-be authors asked me if I had a secret formula. “Yes,” I said. “It’s the three W’s: Worship, Wait, Write.”
They asked, “Can you tell me more?”
And, voila! My coaching practice was born.
What are the benefits for someone hiring a writing coach?
The first benefit is improved writing skills. A good coach will help you craft your words and take your writing to the next level by explaining on each page how your work can be improved by using writing tools such as pacing, grouping, building, sensory imagery, story-telling, or more dynamic transitions.
Second, you gain objectivity. No writer can be 100% objective about her own work—she needs a trained eye to reveal what she cannot see.
Third, the writer gains resources. I’ve worked with five major Christian publishers. My contacts become my client’s contacts, as well as my list of cover designers, typesetters, and editors.
Fourth, you gain accountability. A coach helps you set realistic goals and requests concrete assignments to help you move your project forward at a quicker pace.
Finally, and most importantly, you gain a skilled advocate who believes in you as a person and who will cheer you on in your work. Because a coach is “sunk down” into your message and trained in the craft, that person can provide insights that your best friend cannot.
What can I expect from you as a coach?
My style, which is probably different from other coaches, is to be up close and personal. I invite my clients for intensive writing retreats in my home. Our home is quiet and at the base of the Colorado mountains. My clients have their own living space and access to a library as well as a hot tub. I find taking writers away from their distracted environments and giving them a serene place where I can work 24/7 with them for a short period of time is the most effective way to move a book project forward. The other format I use is a monthly or bi-monthly skype call. My client emails material for me to edit prior to the call. During the call I explain my edits and we talk over goals and assignments for the next meeting. Most of my clients are writing books. Therefore, prior to accepting a new client, I would want a synopsis, Table of Contents, and at least 5,000 words written before we’d consider a partnership.
What’s the number one stumbling block that you’ve noticed among writers? What advice do you give them?
The number one stumbling block I see is the destructive habit of comparison. I hear, “I just can’t write like so-and-so.” Or, “why did she get published and no one will look at my work?” Or, “how can that author pop out a best-seller every year while I’ve been working on this book idea for three years?” The downward spiral of negative comparison results in a defeatist attitude: “There are already books out there on my topic. Why bother?” Why bother? I’ll tell you why bother. Because no one has your story and no one can tell it through your voice and heart! If you refuse to write your story, the body of Christ misses out, and you miss out.
What do you tell writers who get discouraged and want to give up?
I tell them, “Writing can be agonizing, grueling work. Go ahead and quit.” This shocks them, then I say what I mean with all my heart: “But if God has called you to this project, do not quit under any circumstance. This is about obedience to God, not about getting published.”
I notice you pray before you write. Tell us why including prayer is imperative before our fingers hit the key pad.
Prayer punctuates everything I do with my clients. We start our time in prayer, end in prayer, and if we’re in the middle of something and lack clarity, we stop and pray. Jesus told his Heavenly Father, “Apart from You, I can do nothing.” How much more true is this for us? How can we not pray?
I imagine writers open up to you about their writing journey, and not just the craft.
It’s my job as a coach to pull words out of my clients. So yes, they open up. I weep with my clients, laugh with them, and they share things with me they’ve never told a soul. Because it’s so intimate, I don’t coach men (although a writing couple is fine). If I can’t work with them in an honest and spirit driven way, then we agree it’s best they find someone else.
You’ve co-authored several books. Did you find it easier or more difficult than writing a book by yourself?
I love the energy that explodes when you write with a like-minded collaborator. My co-author situations couldn’t have been more wonderful! In truth, I never write alone. God is my co-author and the Holy Spirit my editor.
What is your opinion of self-publishing for aspiring writers?
I’ve worked with five of the largest Christian publishers and have enjoyed what I learned from them and appreciate the help they gave me. But the publishing world has turned upside down in the last 15 years and the truth is this: if you do not have a speaking, media, and/or social media platform, you may not have the option of a traditional publisher because publishers are asking far more of their writers in terms of selling the book themselves than they were a decade ago. Self-publishing is a wonderful option and I highly recommend it. Don’t feel less than—remember, obedience to God is your goal, not a certain publisher.
Thanks, Lorraine, for sharing your insights and your secret formula: “Worship, Wait, Write.”
Check out Lorraine’s website: www.lorrainepintus.com and see how God is using her speaking/writing ministry. You can also leave comments and questions below.
Karen Foster is a speaker for women’s events and a nonfiction writer. She has written devotionals for The Upper Room and The Secret Place. She also writes first-person narrative stories about God’s love and grace in people’s lives such as her ghostwritten story: Inside Job that recently appeared in Bible Advocate’s ezine: Now What?