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Category: Writing Advice

Professional Coaching For Your College Admission Essay

If you are hoping to get into your chosen college this year, or you are a parent who wants the very best chance for your child who is headed to college, we strongly suggest you get coaching for their college admission essay from Hallie Gay Walden at  Smart Writing.

Hallie Gay Walden
Hallie Gay Walden

Please understand that we are not suggesting someone who knows just a little about helping students create their best college admissions essays. Hallie Gay Walden sets the bar for excellence when it comes to college admission essays. Below is a very impressive list of results that came about from using Smart Writing and Ms. Walden’s coaching:

Recent SmartWriting Client Scholarships and Merit Awards include: 

Two United States Presidential Scholars
(Top 100 student in the US annually)

A United States Presidential Scholar
(Semi-finalist Top 400 in the US annually)

The Cameron Impact Scholarship
($200,000 to any university of your choice)

The Jefferson at the University of Virginia
(~$200K in Scholarship over 4 years)

The Johnson at Washington and Lee
(~$200K in Scholarship over 4 years)

The Reynolds at Wake Forest University
(~$200K in Scholarship over 4 years)

The WT Young at Transylvania University
(Full Ride)

The Otis Singletary at the University of Kentucky
(Full Ride)

As you can very well see, the students and their parents who choose Hallie Gay Walden to coach them in writing their college admission essays are shooting for the stars and often hit the moon.

Hallie Gay Walden is the former Managing Editor of the esteemed literary journal the Paris Review. This is where she began to develop the craft necessary to polish a writer’s voice. At Smart Writing, Hallie tells website visitors and prospective college applicants this, “For over 15 years, I’ve specialized in helping prospective college students put their best “idea” “voice” and “self” on paper. I also provide college planning and strategic coaching for admissions, as well as merit and full-ride scholarship and honors programs nationwide.

College admissions are all about choice. First, they choose you, then ultimately you choose them. The more acceptances you have, the more choices there are, the greater your chance of finding that right fit. Your essays and overall presentation are pivotal to getting them to choose you.

Hallie has coached students whose admission essays have gotten them into such prestigious colleges as Harvard, Dartmouth, and Duke University, just to name a few of the big dogs. Hallie holds a BA in English Literature from Dartmouth College and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University School of Law.

If you need coaching for your college admissions essay, why not give yourself the very best chance available to make it phenomenal? Contact Hallie Gay Walden today and discuss your college dreams and let her help you enter the college of your choice. You can call Hallie at 859-533-9348 or fill out this short contact form and she will get back to you asap. And good luck! However, if you hire this awesome coach we doubt luck will have a lot to do with it. 🙂

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Ten Tips on Writing from Classic Pros

Here is some great advice from classic writers in an article from The Guardian.

Over the past year, Helen Gordon and I have been putting together Being a Writer, a collection of musings, tips and essays from some of our favorite authors about the business of writing, ranging from the time of Samuel Johnson and Grub Street to the age of Silicon Roundabout and Lorrie Moore.

Researching the book, it quickly became obvious that there isn’t a correct way to set about writing creatively, which is a liberating thought. For every novelist who needs to isolate themselves in a quiet office (Jonathan Franzen), there’s another who works best at the local coffee shop (Rivka Galchen) or who struggles to snatch an hour between chores and children (a young Alice Munro).

Conversely, it also became apparent that alongside all this variety of approaches, there are certain ideas and pieces of advice that many writers hold in common. In an 1866 letter to Mrs. Brookfield, Charles Dickens suggests that: “You constantly hurry your narrative … by telling it, in a sort of impetuous breathless way, in your own person, when the people [characters] should tell it and act it for themselves.” Basically: SHOW DON’T TELL. Three words that will be familiar to anyone who has sat in a 21st-century creative writing class.

Our book, therefore, contains a lot of writing advice, ranging from the sternly practical to the gloriously idiosyncratic. We have writers talking about what went wrong, as well as what went right. They discuss failing to finish a manuscript, failing to find a publisher, badly realized characters and tortuous, unwieldy plots. Here are a just few of our favorite tips, which we believe any aspiring writer should take to heart.

1. Hilary Mantel – a little arrogance can be a great help
“The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence – arrogance if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.”

2. Leo Tolstoy and HP Lovecraft – pick the hours that work best for you
Tolstoy believed in starting first thing: “I always write in the morning. I was pleased to hear lately that Rousseau, too, after he got up in the morning, went for a short walk and sat down to work. In the morning one’s head is particularly fresh. The best thoughts most often come in the morning after waking while still in bed or during the walk.”

Or stay up late as HP Lovecraft did: “At night when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”

3. William Faulkner – read to write
“Read, read, read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.”

4. Katherine Mansfield – writing anything is better than nothing
“Looking back I imagine I was always writing. Twaddle it was too. But better far write twaddle or anything, anything, than nothing at all.”

5. Ernest Hemingway – stop while the going is good
“Always stop while you are going good and don’t worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry bout it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”

6. John Steinbeck – take it a page at a time
“Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day. It helps.”

7. Miranda July – don’t worry about the bad drafts
“I was a lot dumber when I was writing the novel. I felt like worse of a writer … I would come home every day from my office and say, ‘Well, I still really like the story, I just wish it was better written.’ At that point, I didn’t realize I was writing the first draft. And the first draft was the hardest part. From there, it was comparatively easy. It was like I had some Play-Doh to work with and could just keep working with it – doing a million drafts and things changing radically and characters appearing and disappearing and solving mysteries: Why is this thing here? Should I just take that away? And then realizing, no, that is there, in fact, because that is the key to this. I love that sort of detective work, keeping the faith alive until all the questions have been sleuthed out.”

8. F Scott Fitzgerald – don’t write and drink
“It has become increasingly plain to me that the very excellent organization of a long book or the finest perceptions and judgment in time of revision do not go well with liquor. A short story can be written on the bottle, but for a novel, you need the mental speed that enables you to keep the whole pattern inside your head and ruthlessly sacrifice the sideshows … I would give anything if I hadn’t written Part III of Tender Is the Night entirely on a stimulant.”

9. Zadie Smith – get offline
“Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.”

10. Muriel Spark* – get a cat
“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially on some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp … gives the cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impeded your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable and very mysterious.’
*(or rather, the character of Mrs. Hawkins in A Far Cry from Kensington.)

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