Coaching Writers

Abigail and I low-res

Heather Conn and Abigail Schulz

Writing client Irene Policzer of Vancouver, BC offers these words in March 2018:

“Since I engaged Heather as my writing coach, I have seen a substantial improvement in my writing work. Heather has a very special combination of knowledge, depth of thought, sensitivity, respect, and understanding of the issues and barriers a writer must face. Her coaching is gentle and encouraging while at the same time, firm and honest. In the few months we have been working together, she has earned my trust and appreciation. I strongly recommend her for anybody struggling to complete a piece of writing and feel proud about it. It is stimulating and fun to work with her.”

Here I am (at right) with my youngest writing client, Abigail Schulz, age 12, in April 2014. She worked hard to transform a short story and is eager to learn many aspects of writing.

Pam and her first draft

Client Pam Dangelmaier









Pam Dangelmaier emailed this photo (left), which shows her about to send me the first draft of her novel in August 2013. I like how it captures a writer’s excitement when sending her “baby” out into the world. This manuscript became the successful book The Flour Garden, published in 2017. Congratulations, Pam!



How do I differ from other writing coaches?

I inspire students to write from their deepest self, not just to arrange and rearrange words.

I do not limit myself to one specialty area. Besides sharing skills and training in creative nonfiction, I offer expertise in diverse fields and genres, from screenwriting and fiction to commercial content.


With nonfiction book-writing client Gloria McArter

 I appreciate and respect Heather’s gifts as a writing coach and editor and highly recommend her for her expertise. She allows me to dream and makes helpful suggestions so that I can express my thoughts and feelings with focus and clarity.  Heather inspires me to create the content, flow, and structure of my work so it is helpful to the reader. I encourage you to contact Heather as she will assess your needs and outline how she can best help you in your creative writing endeavors.

— Dr. Gloria McArter,
Registered Clinical Counsellor; Couple and Family Therapist

I coached Sunshine Coast writer Rosa Reid in editing for more than a year. Here’s what she says:

“I was fortunate to find such an accomplished mentor to share her editing skills and practical knowledge with me. Heather set up weekly sessions that included hands-on editing and homework. These one-hour sessions were followed up with review and advice. Her lessons were concise and helpful, and questions were encouraged. I enjoyed learning in a one-on-one environment that was mindful of my goals and abilities.”

What does a writing coach do anyway?

In addition to my group classes, I offer more intensive, tailored coaching to individual writers. This one-on-one work can include any or all of the following services:

  • helping a writer get unstuck
  • providing questions and suggestions that give a writer new clarity and focus
  • designing assignments that respond to a writer’s specific needs
  • offering valuable feedback to shape or redirect a manuscript or story
  • editing existing content
  • brainstorming and identifying key ideas, themes, etc
  • recommending specific readings and/or providing a bibliography
  • giving much-needed inspiration, emotional suppport, and encouragement
  • sharing general writing tips and do’s and dont’s.

Mike Oswald, a former writing student, reads from his first book I am a Man Who Cries.


Mike Oswald won a 2010 Writers Award
and trophy from the Special Olympics
on the Sunshine Coast.

For more details on my former writing student Mike and his award, see my archived blog post.

Who are my writing clients?

I have helped beginner and experienced writers in fiction, nonfiction, academia, theatre, and screenwriting. As a few examples, thanks to my involvement, clients have

  • successfully rewritten, redirected, and expanded a short story to make it publishable
  • found the direction, premise and key points of a chapter written for an academic anthology, after considerable frustration and sense of being overwhelmed by too much content
  • condensed a humorous personal essay to make it more readable and entertaining
  • found new structures for making a personal essay more compelling and truer to the writer’s intentions.

I gave Vancouver, BC stuntwoman Lani Gelera a kickstart on writing her autobiography and launching her blog Fenix Fallgirl.



At what stage of the writing process do you need a writing coach?

I have become involved at every stage of a writing project:

Beginning: Someone has an idea for a book or story or blog but isn’t sure how to proceed

Middle: Someone has written a lot of content but feels bogged down, wants to shift focus, doesn’t know how to add new material to what’s there


  • End: A book manuscript is complete, but needs review and editing. The writer wants feedback about content, how to get it published or republished, adapt it to the web etc.


How does writing coaching  work?

After an initial consultation and discussion, I lay out a suggested approach, usually involving assignments, questions, and a request for revisions. This is tailored to the specific needs of each client.

I adapt to whatever works best for the client. Regular communication is  by email or phone. Personal meeting(s) are arranged when desired.


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