Jessica Van Devanter
Creative Writing Coach
Coaching Sessions are in-depth classes tailored to your interests and where you are in your writing journey. Conquer writer's block, find inspiration, organize and develop your ideas, form a sustainable writing practice, improve your productivity, spark or re-spark your passion, or learn the basics.
Workshops take an in-depth look at a work-in-progress. If you have an early draft that you want to strengthen and expand, or a complete piece you are refining, we will take a deep dive into your work and look at elements like themes, structure, character development, and line edits. Prior to your workshop, you will send a piece or selection to me (maximum 10 pages double-spaced per session) that I will read before our session and provide feedback on. During our session, we will discuss my comments, questions or ideas you have for it, and brainstorm ways to take your work to the next level. Stephen King said, "Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." A workshop is a place to open that door wide.
Contact me for a free 15-minute consultation
Hi, I'm Jessica
I have a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Hunter College in New York City, where I received a comprehensive education in long and short form fiction writing. While at Hunter, I studied with amazing authors including New York Times best-selling author Tea Obreht, National Book Award winner Colum McCann, Booker Prize winner Peter Carey, and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Adam Haslett. I was also a research assistant for Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead on his novels Nickle Boys and Harlem Shuffle. Prior this, I also studied in the Creative Writing Certificate Program at UCSD Extension. I specialize in flash and short stories and my work has been published in online and print literary journals since 2016.
Writing should be a passionate, fulfilling, intoxicating, therapeutic, and challenging experience. It is not all of these simultaneously, but we aim for it to be at least one of these things at all times. I do not believe in a harsh “tough love” approach to coaching. In my experience, that shuts more writers down than it helps. Your internal environment is even more important than the external. A writer should feel comfortable, even excited, taking risks. I encourage my clients to embrace imperfection, laugh at mistakes, and ignore the critic who lives in your head (you know the one, saying your idea is not good enough even before you write it). Writing is a practice of experiments and I believe in a collaborative environment that involves looking at what is working and not working in a piece with curiosity, then coming up with a plan for the next experiment. This could mean exploring things like other techniques or digging deeper into the themes and characters to bring them to life. We are sometimes disappointed by an outcome or frustrated when we feel stuck. In my experience, an open environment that enjoys the experimentation process is where writers flourish. You won’t know if something works until it is on the page. Like Ray Bradbury said “you only fail if you stop writing.” Your reading practice is also crucial in your writing journey. Explore the greats, but also explore the rule-breakers. Explore what you hate, not just what you love. Knowing what you don’t like helps you refine what you do. I have hundreds of recommendations, but also love to hear about some of your favorites and how they inform your work.