About lisa

Writer, Editor & Coach

about lisa cooper ellison

Lisa Cooper Ellison
Lisa Ellison is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. She teaches memoir and the art of story telling at WriterHouse, a nonprofit writing center in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work and life story have appeared on NPR’s With Good Reason, and in Huffington PostThe RumpusThe GuardianStreetlightGravel Literary Journal, The Rusty Nail, Charlottesville Family, and The Healthy Living Directory. She is currently working on a memoir titled In the Land of Flood and Slaughter, a coming-of-age memoir about the events that led her to carry her belongings in trash bags across a divided highway during the summer before her senior year– this time leaving home for good.

Before choosing to work as a freelance writer and editor, I spent eleven years in the helping professions—first as a special education teacher and then as a mental health therapist. While working in those fields, I developed strong active listening skills that helped clients revise their personal narratives and connect with their creativity. During that time, I wrote in the evenings, attended graduate-level MFA courses in fiction, and opted for professional assignments that furthered my growth as a writer.

In 2014, I took the plunge and started working on a memoir and wrote freelance articles and personal essay for magazines and journals. I also started facilitating mindfulness-based writing groups and providing developmental editing for writers. Eventually this led to my work as an instructor and writing coach.

John Irving writes, “Half my life is an act of revision.” For many people that period of revision feels like a lonely road. That’s why I firmly believe in the power of creative support. For me, the best part of being an editor, coach, and facilitator has been watching other writers blossom.


Work with Lisa

Send me an email:

“I care about helping other writers learn to own the power of their stories and take lived experience and turn it into art.”

What I care about

In his book The Mindful Writer, Dinty Moore introduces us to the four noble truths of the writing life:

  • The writing life is difficult, full of disappointment, and dissatisfaction.
  • Much of this dissatisfaction comes from the ego, from our insistence on controlling b other he process of writing and how the world reacts to what we have written.
  • There is a way to lessen the disappointment and dissatisfaction and to lie a more fruitful writing life.
  • The way to accomplish this is to make both the practice of writing and thew York itself less about ourselves. To thrive, we must be mindful of our motives and our attachment to desired outcomes.

As a writer myself, I experience this tension between my desire to create art that satisfies my ego and my desire to do something that’s for the greater good. The greatest antidote to the ego I’ve found is community. When we discuss our creative lives with others, we have the power to create works that transcend our meager existences. I care about helping other writers confront and accept these truths while they learn to own the power of their stories and take lived experience and turn it into art. I do this through nonjudgemental acceptance of the writer and their work, the use of mindfulness and other techniques designed to slow writers minds down enough to hear their inner truths, and instruction in the craft of good storytelling.

professional organizations

Awards & Accolades

• Honorable Mention in the Cville Weekly Fiction Contest
• WriterHouse Scholar and selected reader at the 2015 Virginia Quarterly Review Conference
• Helen Mercedes Rosebury Creative Writing Award

Recent Editing Projects

  • Developmental edits for books on leadership, mental health, and memoir, as well as personal essays.
  • Manuscript evaluations in fiction, memoir, personal essay, and nonfiction books
  • Coaching clients in the areas of book, essay, and story structure as well as how to maintain motivation during long projects.
  • Developmental and copy editing for a behavioral health program policies and procedures manual at the Charlottesville Free Clinic
  • Co-editor for the Central Valley Counselors Association (CVCA) newsletter (2009 – 2012)
  • Updated and improved the 5-county 2010 Comprehensive Directory of Mental Health Services, published by James Madison University, and created an online version of this publication to increase access and improve use

Education & Professional Development

  • 2017 AWP Conference attendee and tabling volunteer for Virginia Quarterly Review
    Writer House: Year-long MFA Courses in Memoir (2015 & 2016)
  • 2015 & 2016 Creative Nonfiction Conference
  • 2015 Virgnia Quarterly Review Conference: partial tuition scholarship, selected reader
  • James Madison University: Ed.S Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Spalding University: M.A.T. Learning and Behavior Disorders
  • University of Louisville: B.A. English Literature and Creative Writing, summa cum laudeI’ve had the privilege of studying under the following writers: Lee GutkindKevin HaworthPaul GrinerJeffrey SkinnerDinty MooreRachel Kaadzi Ghansah, and Sharron Harrigan.
When we discuss our creative lives with others, we have the power to create works that transcend our meager existences.

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