Hi, I’m Theo Pauline Nestor, writer, writing coach, and creator of the Writing Is My Drink blog, a place for writers coming into their own and finding their voice. Here you’ll find interviews with writers, 26-minute memoirs, writing advice, lists of “What I’m Digging Now,” book reviews (once in a great while), news about my writing and teaching life, and more. Slake your thirst; find your voice.




Theo’s Upcoming Classes (and more)

Hi All! I wanted to let you know what I’ll be up to this summer. Strangely, not much has changed in my offerings except that this summer my work will all be online, which means wherever you are, you can work with me (and my cats. LOL). Developmental editing: I’m available for coaching and developmental […] Read More

Theo’s Teaching/Coaching Summer 2020

This summer I’ll be offering writing coaching, developmental edit packages for memoirs and book proposals, and numerous classes through Hugo House including a Publishing Intensive, a Memoir Intensive, Finding Your Story, How to Write a Memoir Book Proposal, and How to Write a Modern Love Essay.

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Six Spots Only: Memoir Developmental Edit from Theo Nestor for $600

These six spots have now been reserved. If you’d like to hear about future offers like this one and other writing news, please join my email list: I’m offering 6 spots for flat-fee developmental editing of memoir manuscripts this winter. The total cost is 600 dollars and includes a structural edit of a manuscript […] Read More

No Family Is a Broken Family: Life 15 Years After my Divorce and my Modern Love

This weekend is emotional flashback weekend. With the New York Times’ reprinting of my essay “The Chicken’s in the Oven, My Husband’s Out the Door,” my life is rolling back to that Sunday morning in the fall of 2004 when I was newly divorced and a very personal part of my life was arriving on doorsteps in blue bags.

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“A Writer is a Person who Writes” and Other Confusing Clues to Your Identity.

For the longest time, I wanted to be a writer. Decades. “A writer is a person who writes,” I heard, and so I did. But I didn’t call myself a writer until I started to get published, and even then, I always felt like I was exaggerating. Boasting. Maybe until my second book, Writing Is My Drink, came out. Then, I figured I must be a writer because not only did I write but I’d written a book about writing.

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So You Think You Might Be Writing a Collage Memoir…

You’ve recently read Claire Dederer’s Love and Trouble and Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts AND the deeper-in-the-catalog Bluets. You love Abigail Thomas’ Safekeeping and Terese Marie Mailhot’s Heart Berries. You own multiple copies of Terry Tempest Williams’ Refuge. These are signs.Your manuscript is built of teeny tiny chapters. Can you even really call them chapters? Your book possesses multiple narratives. Some pages contain more white space than words. These too are signs.

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Lessons from Success: Bet on Yourself

Like my students and clients who’ve sold their memoirs, Jill Soloway made a crucial decision to bet on herself and her writing. When her career was at its lowest point, she chose to “double down” on herself.

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Lessons from Success: Take a Note (or Two!)

When I see my students being all adult about workshop notes, I can’t help but try to understand why I wasted so much time pushing away what I so needed to hear. The answer I come up with: I subscribed too heavily to the idea that talent reigns supreme. I believed that these critiques meant I didn’t have enough talent to BE A WRITER. Another issue: I then lacked the skill to take a comment and revise, so I found critiques overwhelming. How on earth was I suppose to use these comments? How could I pry open this formed thing and begin to rebuild?

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Lessons from Success: Commit to Learning the Craft

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Why I'm Relaunching My Coaching Biz in 2019

My life slowed down, and in that slowing my commitment to teaching and coaching deepened. Client and student successes jolted me with pleasure. Witnessing their growth and accomplishment renewed my awe for the creative process. And, I began to realize that coaching had become central to my sense of purpose, that my best work these days often happened in collaboration with a client who was in the midst of a memoir or a personal essay. So why not move coaching to the middle of my life?

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Lessons from Success: Achieve Your Writing Goals in 2019

A memory from my MFA program: The professor looking around the room at our small group of nine and proclaiming: “You’re all talented. It’s impossible to know which ones of you will make it into print. The ones who make it will have tenacity. They won’t let anything stop them.” His words thrilled me. If […] Read More

What I'm Digging Right Now #7

These films equate to a nonfiction lover’s Avengers series. In each one our hero goes against some serious odds and comes out the other side penning Supreme Court dissents, producing music and art, or scorching the tennis court.

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What I Read this Summer

In no particular order: Orange, Tommy. There There (This book is exquisite). Kaling, Mindy. Why Not Me? (Not quite as good as her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? but that’s an awfully high bar). Albertine, Viv. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. Taylor, Sonya Renee. The Body Is Not […] Read More

Book Giveaway!

I’m hosting a giveaway of California Calling: A Self-Interrogation this week to celebrate my friend Natalie Singer’s birthday. Yay! To enter for a chance to win, click on the link here and follow Natalie’s Amazon author page. The giveaway will end on June 1st or when the two giveaway copies have both been awarded. Sorry, […] Read More

How to Write a Personal Essay (That Stands a Chance)

How to Write a Personal Essay will cover the following:

How to generate material compelling to both you and your readers

How to build up that material step-by-step into a essay

How to revise your opening paragraph so it catches an editor’s attention

How to build a story and an argument

How to land the final paragraph 

How to find markets for your essay

How to write a zinger pitch 

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Q: Do I need connections to find an agent?

Q: Do I need connections to find an agent? A: No, you can find an agent without connections, but you do need to be prepared before you initiate the search. Here are some guidelines: 1) You need to be at the right moment with your work. The moment to find an agent is when you have […] Read More

Q: Can I have it all?

Another great anonymous question from one of my students… Q: Is it reasonable to think I can do grad school/kids/job all at the same time? To be honest, I haven’t done exactly that. I did one grad degree when I was single with no kids (advisable!) and the other one (an MFA) when I had […] Read More

What Will My Family Think?

I just finished my quarter as the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Seattle University. I hadn’t taught college-age students in a long time and was a bit nervous, but they were so, so engaged. So willing to dig in. So brave. And so good at supporting each other. On the last day of class, I asked them […] Read More

Jennifer Haupt: Create Rituals to Keep the Faith in Your WIP

Hi Readers, I greatly enjoyed this post about keeping the faith by Jennifer Haupt and hope you will too. Jennifer’s debut novel In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills (Central Avenue Press) is available now. In Seattle? Jennifer Haupt will be in conversation with novelist Jennie Shortridge at the book launch for In the Shadow of […] Read More


This week I had the pleasure to interview my dear friend and new author, Natalie Singer, on the publication of her new memoir, California Calling, a gorgeous coming-of-age story that takes a hard look at what it means to grow up girl and offers up a complex and nuanced investigation into how we become who we […] Read More


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!

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Reni Roxas

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. Children’s book publisher & editor

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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, […] Read More

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 […] Read More

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 […] Read More

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 […] Read More

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, […] Read More

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 […] Read More

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.

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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!

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Janet Buttenwieser

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 […] Read More

Candace Walsh

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 […] Read More

Amy Koko

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! Author, There’s Been […] Read More

Judith Sara Gelt

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 […] Read More

Sarah Townsend

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 […] Read More

Rosy Crumpton

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 […] Read More

Debbie Reber

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 […] Read More

Cecilia Aragon

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 […] Read More