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, I just needed to pay attention.

Also, at age nine typing seemed cool and official.

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 is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach with a background in mindfulness and mental health. A 2015 recipient of a Virginia Quarterly Review Conference scholarship for potential literary excellence and a finalist in the 2018 Michagonne Fiction Contest, her work and life story have appeared or are forthcoming on NPR’s With Good Reason, and in The New Guard ReviewThe Kenyon Review OnlineHuffington PostThe Rumpus, and The Guardian, among others. A fan of creating playlists that feature Miles Davis alongside Cryptic Slaughter, she is currently working on two books. In the Land of Flood and Slaughter is a coming-of-age memoir about believing you’ve escaped a fate only to have it find you. Lucky Me is a memoir about how traveling with a heavy metal band into a country that committed genocide gave her the courage to live after her brother’s suicide. A writer in the Moving Forewords memoir collective, Lisa runs the Heart Speak advice column. To learn more about Lisa, check out her website


“She went over and beyond. I learned things that I didn’t expect to. She covered an astounding amount of areas clearly and concisely. Calm and mindful. A very refreshing teaching style. One of the best classes I’ve taken here.”

“She explained concepts very well. I liked the discussion of the external conflict and the internal conflict, what things would need to be done to take it to the next level, etc. Very helpful to hear mine and everyone else’s too. Really loved this class—thank you so much.”

“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.”