Writing Coach

I offer writing coaching to writers working on memoirs, nonfiction book proposals, MFA program applications, and personal essays.

My students and writing coaching clients publish books with small and large publishing houses and essays in national outlets, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. (See examples)

Coaching meetings are held online via GoToMeeting. My philosophy is to meet the writer at the level they’re at and help them reach their goals by teaching discrete skills and giving them honest and usable feedback. My strengths are structural and developmental editing; intuiting a narrative’s emotional preoccupation; and reading at the speed of light. My rate is 120 dollars an hour. If you’d like to set up a session, email me at theonestorprods@gmail.com. 

Content of coaching sessions is held in confidence. Testimonials and names below  shared with permission of writers. 

Selected nonfiction titles from former students and clients:

New York Times Modern Love columns by former students and clients:

Forthcoming nonfiction from former students & clients:

Reckless Steps Toward Sanity by Judith Sara Gelt forthcoming from UNM Press (2019)

Untitled memoir from Noe Alvarez forthcoming from Catapult (2020)

Setting the Wire by Sarah Townsend forthcoming from Lettered Streets Press (2019)

Flying Free by Cecilia Aragon forthcoming from Blackstone Publishing(2020).

Washington Post essays by former students:

My son’s father killed him for insurance money. Full justice hasn’t been served by Hera McLeod.

We’re failing the immigrant kids who show up alone on our border by Noe Alvarez

Marijuana’s addictive risk shouldn’t be ignored by Roger Roffman

My husband was laid off. Here’s what happened to our parenting by Natalie Singer


Theo’s bio:

Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (And a Guide to How You Can Too) (Simon & Schuster, 2013) and How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over (Crown, 2008), which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a 2008 Top Pick for Reading Groups and as a Target “Breakout Book.” An award-winning instructor, Nestor has taught the memoir certificate course for the University of Washington’s Professional & Continuing Education program since 2006. She also teaches at Hugo House in Seattle and has taught two master classes at Hedgebrook. She holds an MA in English Literature from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the University of Washington. Nestor also produces events for writers such as the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat, Bird by Bird & Beyond, and the Black Mesa Writers’ Intensive, featuring talks by writers such as Anne Lamott, Cheryl Strayed, Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg.  You can follow her on Facebook hereInstagram, and on Twitter @theopnestor.  


I’d been daydreaming about writing a memoir for nearly 20 years, but it was Theo's inspired teaching that finally showed me the shape the memoir needed to take. Her patient and insightful coaching enabled me to hone my draft into publishable form. More than anything else, I appreciated her willingness to work with me under time pressure created by my busy work schedule. Theo’s coaching is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. My memoir chronicling my journey from fearful, bullied child to airshow pilot and award-winning scientist, Flying Free, received four offers from publishers and was bought in a pre-empt by Blackstone Publishing. Without Theo, none of this would have happened. ~Cecilia Aragon,
Reaching out to Theo when I was in the initial stages of figuring out a voice and direction for my most recent book was the best decision I could have made. She brought to our relationship (and my project) her gift of seeing the bigger story, understanding the potential of my vision and voice, and painlessly guiding me to express what I was struggling to get out. I’m grateful for her support and shepherding, and she’ll absolutely be my first call should I undertake another book in the same vein.
Debbie Reber
Author of Differently Wired:Raising an Exceptional Child in a Conventional World
Theo was the very first person outside of my sisters to read my manuscript. I wanted a professional and honest critique of my work from someone who I could trust. After reading her work and doing my research, I found Theo to be the perfect fit. My session with Theo was beyond my expectations. Theo is honest, an expert, and truly inspirational. She provided me with guidance, tools, and resources that eventually led me down my publishing journey. I'm extremely grateful to her for giving me the confidence I needed to continue to pursue my writing career. Her energy and smile is a joyful bonus. Theo has my highest recommendation should you need a writing coach.
Rosy Crumpton
Author, All I Left Unsaid: A Latina's Journey Toward Truth
I contacted Theo for support in completing a marketing plan for my first book (initiated during her memoir course!) As a writing coach, she asked me to consider what I wanted from the experience of publication; what was my personal mission statement? Such is the wisdom of a woman who writes and teaches about finding one’s voice. Theo’s coaching is infused with the same qualities that make her a great teacher. She is scrappy, sophisticated, prepared, efficient, entertaining, and heartfelt! I consider Theo a lifelong mentor.
Sarah Townsend
Author, Setting the Wire (The Lettered Streets Press)
I contacted Theo ten years into writing my memoir while I was struggling with structure. She did a “turbo” read and gained knowledge of the entire plot. After our Skype-like discussions, which were as pleasant as they were productive, she recommended I cut the first 120 pages! It was her explanation—her reasoning about why this worked best—that had me agreeing a few days later. And, I loved that I had learned something new. Pieces of those first pages made it into the book as backstory when necessary, and by the time I signed a contract, the initial 120 pages were long gone. Thanks, Theo, I’m certain your expertise made a difference.
For years I wanted to write a memoir about my divorce but never could focus on my goal. After a year with Theo I had a completed manuscript and a well written proposal that sold my book for publication. She guided me all the way. Could not have done it without her!
Amy Koko
Author, There's Been a Change of Plans
Theo is the Mary Poppins of proper writing rule-breaking. She's big-picture wise and detail gimlet-eyed. Her divine compassion, which is a rare gift in anyone, is essential in a memoir coach. Equally essential is her candor, which comes from two goals: to make the writing the best it can be, and to be the seeing-eye guide to her clients' blind spots--and we all have them. I am so lucky that Theo came into and expanded my orbit. It's one of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer.
Candace Walsh
Author, Licking the Spoon; Editor, Dear John, I Love Jane & Ask Me About My Divorce
I turned to Theo in the latter stage of revising my memoir, at a point when I needed a frank assessment from someone who knew neither me nor the story I was trying to write. She delivered in spades. Her questions about the story arc and her suggestions with regard to craft allowed me to not only see the problems clearly, but also gave me guidance for how to fix them. My work with her was a key step in my path to publication. I can’t recommend her highly enough.
Janet Buttenwieser
Author of GUTS
I found that, like any good coach, Theo is there for you. She is totally in your corner. What that means is that she is pushing and prodding you, asking you the tough questions about your writing and helping you reach deep, stretch, and grow. She will give you direct, clear feedback that you can act on. It's hard work--and totally rewarding!
Paul Kuehnert
Theo is a gifted teacher. She is so incisive and helpful in steering me in the right direction that I can’t say enough good things about her. I highly recommend!​
Shigeko Ito
Theo's enthusiasm, professionalism, and sincerity helped take my writing to the next level. She is so wonderfully kind and caring, with an eye for editing. The connection I built with Theo gave me the ability to write more vulnerably, and ultimately more engagingly. I highly recommend working with Theo, especially as a memoir writer.
Raz Tal
During our coaching sessions, Theo tended to each of our submissions with feedback that ranged from pacing to diction, to voice, all of it given in a way that acknowledged our strengths and encouraged us to dive into the next revision. Always positive and supportive, she did not hesitate to identify unclear passages and suggest relevant readings or identify the universal issues we might not know we were addressing ourselves. Following her mentorship and a year later, my book is slated for publication in June! It will be printed in my native language by a publisher in Greece!
Sophia Kouidou-Giles
I took a self-styled “sabbatical” from my psychotherapy practice so I could work on my memoir. But after writing about 150k words I was at an impasse about how to make it all fit together. Around then, I read Writing is My Drink, which I loved. I got the idea to contact Theo for mentoring, though after reading her book I was somewhat star struck and wondered if she was too famous and talented to want to work with someone like me. Answer: no! She was wonderfully down to earth, like that funny friend that you can’t quite get enough of. She read all of my pages – so many! – and then we met via GoToMeeting for an hour and a half. The meeting was recorded so I could return later to review it, which I have. Theo did something that isn’t easy: she gave me just enough critique to get me moving, but also plenty of positive reinforcement. I left the meeting feeling buoyed and hopeful. Her main piece of advice has had a huge effect on my project. She said she thought that my memoir was actually a novel (and gave me many reasons why). Though I was surprised, I knew she was right. After this nudge I haven’t looked back. I have finished one full draft of the novel and am working on revisions. I’m so grateful for Theo!​
Jennifer Noel
Theo is a dream to work with. She's a fast reader and that meant a quick turnaround when I sent pages to her for critique. Theo's got a keen eye for detail and voice on the page. And she has a warm way of conveying how I might make a piece better, more readable, more salable. I never felt judged by her comments. Instead, I felt like I'd sent my pages to a wise friend who honestly wanted to help me polish the piece, to make it the best it could be. Theo is the coach you've been looking for.
Jason Poole
Not only does Theo bring strong academic credentials and experience as a published writer to her role as writing coach, perhaps most importantly, she brings her generous humanity. Theo offers original insights and practical suggestions for your writing which cohere with your own vision. As a skilled and experienced coach, Theo guides you towards your authentic voice and provides encouragement as well as creative suggestions as you reveal your story. Her strengths as a well-read writer often come into play in the coaching process as she suggests texts and authors as reference points and resources. Nestor is able to discern the strongest framework for your narrative because of her unique perspective but she never imposes her vision on you. Working with Theo is always collaborative. Theo meets you where you are as a writer and guides you with firm compassion to tell the story within you. Her flexibility and willingness to work with your schedule also lessens a bit of the inherent pressure of writing. Theo’s extensive writing knowledge and strong editing skills, coupled with her deft touch working with writers make working with her highly satisfying and enjoyable. I have had a multitude of teachers and coaches over the years, and Theo stands above them all. With her combination of professional credentials, experience as a published writer and her innate compassion towards writers and the writing process, Theo is a rare resource.
Kit Cudahy
Theo Nestor is my go-to manuscript coach. With her guidance and critique, I crafted a personal essay and writing sample that resulted in my acceptance to Columbia University’s MFA program in creative nonfiction. Around the same time, I came to her with an essay I had written about a traumatic event just after the event had occurred. Her advice to me was to step back and take time to process and gain perspective. Theo was right—I’ve only recently come back to that essay and am now able to explore the event with literary and emotional honesty in a way I couldn’t have before. More recently, I sought her expertise on an essay for which I could not pin down an ending. She diagnosed the problem—I had tried to address more than one issue in an essay requiring a singular focus. During revision, I followed her advice and wrote not only a stronger essay but also the once elusive ending. I am deeply grateful for her insight, kind but direct feedback, and actionable suggestions. More than any other writing teacher, Theo has helped shaped my writing and, therefore, my life.​
Phoenix Glass
Theo Nestor changed my life. Taking her Certificate in Memoir class at UW in 2015-1016—blew the top of my head off. I can't describe it any other way. It was as if Theo opened a trapdoor to my childhood and everything that came after. She validated all the life experiences I chose to write about, and in so doing affirmed that I had a voice worth sharing with the world. The following year, two students from Hugo House and I entered into a coaching program with Theo. We met twice a month to share and critique our pieces, often with Theo recording our sessions so we could play them back at home in case we didn't catch everything that was said. Theo consistently approached our work with respect, honesty, and compassion, encouraging us—with razor-sharp insights—to go deeper and unpack the meaning behind our pages. Not only was she a fabulous mentor, she went out of her way to introduce me to magazine editors who would publish my work and gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to apply for a Hedgebrook scholarship. And did I say she has a wonderful sense of humor? I have taken many writing workshops since that UW class, but I know I won't find a teacher as generous and open-hearted as Theo Nestor. She is one of a kind. I owe her a deep debt of gratitude.
Reni Roxas
Children's book publisher & editor
Just as she is a gifted teacher, Theo Nestor is a gifted coach. Her feedback is specific, concrete, and honest. She has deep knowledge of the publishing world. She is strategic, and she is wise. She is funny. She inspires. Hire her.
Page Ulrey
Theo is a gifted teacher. She is so incisive and helpful in steering me in the right direction that I can’t say enough good things about her. I highly recommend!
Carly Bergey

12 Responses to Writing Coach

  1. Margaret Coombs Farris says:

    Dear Theo-Thank you for everything you have taught me this past year. It has really contributed to my recovery and has helped me find my current passion (I hope it continues). I spoke to you a while ago about meeting with you privately. In particular I’d like to get some suggestions for my “Stratus” entry as well as some tips on the writer’s conference in July. I’ve never attended anything like this, and I want to get as much out of it as I can. If you could give me an idea of good times for you, I’ll let you know that I’m flexible and can drive during the day, but can also meet at night if that’s better. I look forward to hearing from you. Fondly, Margaret Coombs Farris

  2. Pingback: Free Coaching Session for the Next 3 Doe Bay Retreat Signups! | Writing Is My Drink

  3. Pingback: The Doe Bay Work-On-That-Book Writers’ Retreat, June 4-8, 2014 | Writing Is My Drink

  4. Theo is a highly-skilled teacher and coach. I owe much of my publishing success to her instruction.

  5. Pingback: How to Write a Modern Love (That Stands a Chance) | Writing Is My Drink

  6. Pingback: Nutgrafs for Memoirs and Personal Essays | Writing Is My Drink

  7. I’m a nonfiction writer wanting to write a memoir…

  8. Pingback: How to Write a Modern Love Teleseminar Starts Tomorrow at 1pm | Writing Is My Drink

  9. Pingback: What I’m Digging Right Now #3 | Writing Is My Drink

  10. Pingback: What I’m Digging Right Now #5 | Writing Is My Drink

  11. Pingback: Why I'm Relaunching My Coaching Biz in 2019 - Writing Is My Drink %Writing Is My Drink

Comments are closed.