Lisa Ellison


When did you first feel like a writer?

I first discovered the joy of writing after my brothers and I unearthed a suitcase-style typewriter from a pile of clothes at the bottom of my parents’ closet. I was nine and learning to string sentences into paragraphs. My mother had recently been hired for a second shift job that meant we only saw her two nights per week. As I typed letters to her each night, I felt the power of my words and what they could convey about love and longing. Soon I discovered that everyone had that power. To see it, we just needed to pay attention.

Also, at age nine typing seemed so official and cool.

Feeling like a writer took much longer. I spent years believing I had to achieve very specific things in order to accept this lofty title. But, in reality writers write. All that’s required is the willingness to park your butt in a chair and slap some words in a notebook.

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

Human beings learn by doing. As an instructor, I use a number of experiential activities that create an environment where insights are possible. I see myself as supportive coach and a fellow traveler on my class’s journey, having learned long ago that students are wonderful teachers and our collective wisdom is much greater than what I can provide on my own. For every class, my goal is to foster nurturing communities where artistic risk-taking and challenge are welcome.


Lisa Ellison, Ed.S. is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach with a background in mindfulness and mental health. She has an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from James Madison University and is an experienced teacher and facilitator. Her essays have been published in The Guardian, The Rumpus, Gravel Literary Journal, and The Rusty Nail. Her short story “A Bit of Heaven” was the runner up in the 2015 C-Ville Weekly Fiction Contest. She provides helpful tips on the writing process at


“Lisa was wonderful. She was attentive and caring.”

“Wonderful! Inspiring! Quiet strength and beautiful soul!”

“Lisa is a wonderful teacher, very professional and empathic. Very tuned in to what’s happening in the class.”

“She was very professional, genuinely empathic, very knowledgeable with great resources and patience.”