I’m not quite sure what compelled me, at age 40+, to hop on a surfboard for the first time. Oh wait, yes I am: it was my son, who continually challenges me to up my game.

And I can’t say I found it entirely pleasurable—the awkward attempts at balance, the inevitable falls, pitching headfirst into the watery chaos, fearful I’d crash into the razor-sharp coral.

But I had a great coach—a calm guide who had spent years standing waist-deep in the ocean, launching surfer after surfer onto the waves.

With every attempt, I learned something new: keep your eyes on the horizon, commit to the wave, surrender all worries, and, finally, wipe out smiling.

Later, when I wrote about the experience (you can read the whole story here), I noticed the parallels between my surf lessons and the advice I give as a writing coach:​ 

  • Set your goal. 
  • Commit to it.
  • Release your fears, doubts, and anxieties.
  • When you “wipe out” (and you will; we all do), wipe out smiling.
  • Then get back up and try again.

For over twenty years, I have coached writers—brand new beginners, graduate students, and seasoned professionals—through this process. I have provided the skilled editing advice and compassionate support they have needed to reach (and often exceed) their goals.

They have written poems, memoirs, stories, book proposals, artist manifestos. They have published their work in literary magazines, started blogs, landed book contracts, won awards, and launched literary careers.

They have set their eyes on the horizon, committed to their goals, met and released their fears, wiped out (sometimes smiling), and gotten back up again. Are you ready to do that, too?

What are your writing goals? How can I help you reach them? Click here to start a conversation. 

Have I told you about the time I took surf lessons?

What do you want to write


Cheryl quickly assessed my writing process to develop a coaching technique tailored to me. Thanks to Cheryl’s encouragement I was able to silence my critic, write the rough stuff, and move forward. Her insightful feedback to include identifying themes and conflict in the early draft of my memoir helped me solidify my approach to revision. With Cheryl’s guidance I more than exceeded my highest expectations. Working with Cheryl was delightful. Cheryl Dumesnil is a gifted coach.

-Lorene V. Garrett, MFA

Cheryl is a masterful, dynamic, accomplished, and inspiring teacher. She’s funny, witty, sensible, and downright down-to-earth, which makes learning from her all the more wonderful. She seems never to tire of finding creative ways to spark new writing. I still turn to her notes on style experiments, playing with figurative language, and exercises using symbols. When I asked her advice on how to publish a manuscript, she provided invaluable advice, links, and encouragement. Up to this day, I credit her comments with placing me on the right path towards publication.

Deema K. Shehabi, Author, Thirteen Departures from the Moon

It's Cheryl's high level of emotional intelligence that leaves me wondering whether she's discovered a direct line into my own instincts. She often reads my mind, providing encouragement when needed, or putting to words the things I hadn't yet found the strength to say. Within a month of working with Cheryl on my memoir, the progress I made was shocking, and the clarity of mind I developed around my writing style and voice was invigorating. Without her guidance, writing this book would have been a long and lonely process.

-K'Dee Miller, Patina Pictures

It is because of Cheryl’s teaching that I was able to recognize my poet’s voice and follow it. She is the type of teacher one never forgets.

-Elsie Rivas, Author, Swimming in El Rio Sumpul

everyone has a story to tell. let me help you tell yours.

My clients would like to have a word with you . . .

I can help you with that.