About Lisa Cooper Ellison

Writer, Editor & Coach


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Let’s face it: whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been at it for years, the writing life is hard.

You dream of writing a story that changes the world. You dedicate yourself to your craft. You show up to the page. You learn new skills. You think about it all the time.

But none of that stops you from doubting your abilities. Doubting the value and quality of your work.  Doubting the next step in your writing process and wondering if you should (finally) give up.  

Writing is hard. 

The journey is long.

Only amateurs go it alone.

Ready to move past the voice of self-doubt and take charge of your writing life?

I’m here to help.

Like you, I’m a writer. I know your desire to make beautiful art and use it to serve the greater good because I crave that too. For years, I struggled with doubts about whether I was good enough or if my work would ever be published. Then I took a Mindful Writing at the University of Virginia and my writing life blossomed.

I learned to enjoy the process and trust in the power of my work. Since then, I’ve surrounded myself with talented, inspiring writers who’ve served as mentors and peers. They get this struggle, cheer me on and support my growth. I’ve found that community is the greatest antidote to our nasty inner critics. When we share our work and discuss our creative lives with others, we write stories that transcend our experiences.  

Over the last five years, I’ve published my work in national and international publications like Kenyon Review Online, The Guardian, and Huffington Post. I’ve also taught hundreds of students at colleges, writing centers, and conferences and coached dozens of professional and semi-pro writers. No matter the venue, I’ve helped writers silence their doubts, harness their motivation, and get their work published in places like USA Today, The Hill, and Word Riot, among others.

I’m uniquely qualified to serve you. 

I have a background in not only writing but also mindfulness and mental health. As a trauma-informed editor, writing instructor, and coach, I can help you navigate the writing and publishing landscape while finding what works best for you.

My approach incorporates three key components you need to transcend your roadblocks. They include:

  •     A nonjudgmental acceptance of you and your work
  •     The use of mindfulness and other techniques that help you access your inner truths
  •     Kickass writing instruction and insightful, solutions-focused feedback

When you stop trying to go it alone and get the support you need, you can become a writer who takes command of your stories and transforms your experiences into art.

Writing that one story that changes the world isn’t easy. Now, it’s within your reach. 

Writing that story will also transform you. And, that’s what I’ll help you do. 

Ready to take the next step?

“I was not at all prepared to take the kind of risk that personal essays require. I’ve made a lot of progress in that regard, and without Lisa’s coaching, I might very well have relapsed into the cool objectivity of philosophy and finance. As a teacher and writing coach, Lisa reads thoughtfully and critically, yet she is eminently respectful; she offers gently persistent suggestions but wants the finished product to be entirely your own work.” 

Philip Lawton

“Lisa is the best instructor I’ve ever worked with. She is wise, compassionate, and insightful.” 

Student in Memoir in a Year Part One

Professional Bio

Lisa Ellison is a writer, speaker, and writing coach with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a background in mindfulness. She regularly presents and teaches courses on the use of mindfulness in writing, writing about trauma, and all things memoir. A regular contributor to the Jane Friedman blog, her essays and short stories have appeared in HuffPostHippocampus Literary Magazine, the New Guard Review, Kenyon Review Online, and Brevity, among others. She’s currently working on a memoir about how traveling with her husband’s heavy metal band into post-Bosnian-War Yugoslavia soon after her brother’s suicide led to a promise that ultimately saved her. 


Want to Know More?

Lisa has taught classes in fiction, creative nonfiction, storytelling, and various aspects of the writing life through WriterHouse, Piedmont Community College James Madison University, Jane Friedman’s webinar series, the HippoCamp Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference, the Virginia Writers Club Annual Symposium, and the James Madison Regional Library. Students and clients say her strategies and insights have helped them complete manuscripts, take creative risks, and get their work published. 

She was the recipient of a 2019 Teaching Assistant Position at the Writer’s Hotel Conference, a 2015 scholarship to the Virginia Quarterly Review Conference and the Helen Mercedes Rosebury Creative Writing Award. Her writing has been finalists in the 2018 Michagonne Fiction Contest Finalist and Hippocampus Literary Magazine’s Remember in November Contest., She was also an honorable mention in the  C-Ville Weekly Fiction Contest. She has studied with Meghan Daum, Rachel Kaadzi Gansah, Lee Gutkin, Dinty Moore, Elyssa East, Paul Griner, Jeffrey Skinner, and Sharon Harrigan, among others.

 A member of the Moving Forewords Memoir Collective, Lisa is currently working on Lucky Me, a memoir about how traveling with a heavy metal band into post-Bosnian-War Yugoslavia helped her survive her brother’s suicide. When Lisa is not writing or working with clients, she enjoys practicing yoga, playing with her cats, and painting while listening to playlists that include artists like Miles Davis, Tori Amos, and Cryptic Slaughter.

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