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Where Writers Grow

At our new online home, we’re delighted to share how we look at writing and what it can mean for the writer. Our decade of coaching has deepened our belief in the enduring personal growth a writer experiences in the journey between the blank page and the final draft.

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Fall College-App Essay Support

Every fall, we hear from parents who tell us that — despite everyone’s best intentions — their senior did not write a college-application essay during summer vacation. Or maybe they did, but they’d like specific feedback to help them strengthen their draft. Our coaches can still help!

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Why the Particulars Matter

I tend to ask a lot of questions, especially of college-application writers. If you’re talking about preparing for a robotics competition, then I want to know where your team gathered, what songs you jammed to while you drew the designs, and the fact that you nicknamed the robot “Sparky.”

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Stepping Off the Stage

Early in the writing process, performing is my worst enemy. The cursor keeps blinking while I keep staring. The problem in these moments is that I’ve leapfrogged over writing, straight to publishing, and to what I think the audience wants from the final draft. And then … I’m frozen.

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The Anxiety of the Takeaway

As we come face-to-face with the anxiety of where this essay is going, I’m reminded of trying to walk my son to school on time. Once we hit the street, he’s fascinated by everything he sees. Don’t tell my son, or I'll despair of ever getting him to school on time, but college essay writers should be like him!

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Raiding the Closet

I often imagine college essays as first-impression outfits. Sure, it’s nice to be stylish, but college admissions officers don’t need to see you in your wildest clothes. If you look in your closet, though, and see no wild outfits at all, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to wear.

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The Value of Two Cents

One of the most helpful things that a parent can offer is context and perspective. The writers always know what is most meaningful to them. But in most cases, a parent has the ability to provide a unique view of the child’s experience. There are some benefits that come with age, after all!

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The Process and the Pearl

Here’s an incomplete list of things we don’t typically think about when we think about writing: the doodled-on diner napkins, the hastily-scribbled notes on the backs of receipts, the three cryptic words on a palm: “mulch, apple, Volkswagen.” The scattered moments of potentially promising thought.

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The Creative Freefall

When I started writing in elementary school, the stories flowed out of me like magic. I remember hunching over my paper, scribbling down each chapter as fast as I could. Writing was fun and effortless and — at least the way I remember it — I never agonized over ideas or phrasing.

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Give Yourself Away

As a young writer, I often felt I needed to write about something beyond myself — something accessible only to writers older, more intelligent, more talented than I was. This pressure often resulted in stagnant, dreadful writing, full of clichés.

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The One Who Knows

Her email arrived thirty minutes before we were to meet. She wrote: Attached is the same draft I sent you, but my parents had someone else look at it. The second version on the document was primarily written by my dad.

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To Learn To See Is a Blessing

A few years ago, when a student in the audience at a talk I gave about writing the college-application essay asked me what I would say if I could give only one piece of advice, I responded: “Start paying attention to what you pay attention to.

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