I work with academic writers via coaching—that is, regular, hour-long consultations about writing projects.
Coaching consultations are intensive conversations, via video conference or phone, in which we discuss concrete strategies for drafting and revising your work in progress. I read a chapter or article draft before each meeting, and we dive into the big-picture issues that are key to making any book or journal article compelling—issues like structure, rhetoric, argumentation, voice, clarifying your intervention in your field or fields, and how best to address your intended audiences.
With a PhD in English and published scholarship in literary studies and the environmental humanities, I know the conventions of academic genres and the pressures academic writers face. But my curiosity about disciplines distant from my own areas of expertise also makes me a good outside reader. I help you ensure that your arguments come across clearly and forcefully for readers in your field and beyond it.
My approach is informed by composition and writing center pedagogy, which emphasizes the power of talk to clarify thinking and writing. I listen carefully and ask a lot of questions—questions that prompt you to explain your argument, reflect on your target audience and their expectations, and develop new ways to persuade your readers or structure the piece. I strongly encourage writers to treat me, or any other writing coach, as just one part of a writing support network that also includes colleagues with whom you exchange drafts, a writing group or writing partner, co-authors, and of course the formal peer review and editing processes of journals and academic publishers.
Partial and messy drafts are most welcome for coaching, since consultations focus on your big decisions as a writer—the questions that are in flux when you’re in the middle of drafting or revising. And because consultations can be useful even in the early stages of a project, a draft is not required for a consultation.
You can schedule a one-time consultation with me about a discrete, stand-alone project, but for writers who are working on writing or revising a book manuscript or a series of related journal articles, I encourage regular consultations, held once a month, every other week, or once a week.
The best way to explore the possibility of working together through regular coaching consultations is to schedule a brief, free conversation with me. We’ll talk about your project, any external pressures on it (such as a tenure clock or going up for full professor), and your concerns about the writing process—and we’ll figure out if we’re a good fit.
No matter how we work together, I will engage with your ideas with curiosity, rigor, and kindness. I won’t hesitate to let you know about any substantive concerns I have about your argument, but I always aim to do so in a way that empowers and enables you as a writer. Think of it as very low-stakes peer review from a generous generalist.
Principles and practicalities
- Confidentiality: I keep your work in progress and our work together private; I only add projects to my portfolio with the writer’s express permission.
- Ethical coaching and editing: As a writing coach, I do not create content. (And as an editor, I did not take on projects that would have required creating content rather than editing it.)
- I accept payment from universities and institutions.
- You can download my fee schedule here:
A note for graduate students
If you’re pursuing your PhD or master’s degree, you probably have access to wonderful writing support for free. Most universities have writing centers, which are sometimes called writing labs. Many of them offer graduate students one-on-one appointments with a peer writing consultant—often another graduate student trained in working with writers, as in the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where I taught when I was earning my PhD. Other universities—like some in the University of California system, for example—have a Graduate Writing Center dedicated specifically to supporting graduate students.
I also encourage graduate students (and all academic writers!) to set up a regular writing group with peers in or outside of your department, program, or institution. Meeting regularly with three or four colleagues to check in, offer mutual encouragement, and read each other’s work with a spirit of generosity and an eye toward improvement can make a monumental difference in the work and careers of all members of the writing group.