bryony doran at work

The word ‘coach’ comes from the Hungarian word for carriage and later it was also used as a verb, to coach, to transport a person form where they are to where they want to be. At Oxford University, from around 1830, it came into use as slang for a tutor who ‘carries’ a student through an exam.

‘Mentor’ was the wise and trusted figure who guided and supported Telemachus, son of Ulysses, through his father’s absence.

In modern English usage the exact definition and difference of the terms coach and mentor seem to be under dispute and so I shall explain how I see and use the different terms:

I use coaching to explore issues around a writer’s work. (see Coaching)
I use mentoring for practical application, to appraise a writer’s work and give feedback. (see Mentoring)

I mentor writer’s wanting feedback on the novel or short story. Poet, Ruth Valentine will  mentor poets wanting feedback on their poetry.

When working with a writer over a long period of time I will use a combination of both coaching and mentoring.


My Professional Background

After graduating in 2004 from Sheffield Hallam University with a MA in Writing, I began to work with other writers. Initially I did it to help friends but found that I loved doing it so much that I decided to get some coaching qualifications. (I already had a certificate in counselling and a practitioner qualification in NLP.)

In 2007 I began a coaching course run by Literature Training to offer PDP sessions (Personal Development Plans) for writers. After the course I went on to do further coaching training, during which time I worked extensively with writers.

In 2008, as part of the Off The Shelf Literary Festival, I ran a series of PDP coaching sessions with fellow writer and coach Kate Thompson


coaching at bankst

I am currently involved with Writing Yorkshire on an exciting new project coaching and mentoring selected writers.

coaching at Bank St. Here is a photo of myself, Ray Hearne and Noel Williams on a Mentor Training course, run by Cathy Grindrod who is a Literature Project Manager, Writer and Mentor.

The course took place in October 2013 at Bank St Arts, Sheffield.

Towards the end of the course we got together in groups of three to try out our skills. In this photo I think Ray had just been coached by Noel and I had been the observer. I wonder how Ray ended up with a cup and saucer and me and Noel with mugs.