Who am I? I’m Nicola Thompson: writing coach , writing tutor, and just plain writer.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve spent my life dedicated to learning the writing craft and practicing it. I have spent my adult life in a variety of publications and media positions, including working as a videographer and editor at a video production company, as a columnist for Carpe Nocturne Magazine, a ghostwriter, have published short stories and essays in various locations, and worked as a tutor and a mentor in a college setting before moving on to study at Durham University in England. From there, I continued to work as a freelance and ghost writer, spent time as an editor at The Bubble, and honing my skills as a writing coach.
During my time as a tutor at a local community college, I worked with advanced high school students taking college classes, worked with retired folks looking for something to do with their spare time. I worked with people nearing retirement age who had been laid off from decades of manufacturing work and needed to learn a new skill. I worked with students who had come from all over Asia and Africa to learn and improve English as a second language.
I worked with students who were blind, and students who were deaf–which was the true lesson. In working with students who only knew how American Sign Language worked, for example, I soon realized that ASL doesn’t have adverbs or articles, doesn’t have the same syntax and grammatical structure as written English, and thus had to explain the concept of these to students who had never heard these concepts in use so that they could write their essays.
This experience truly shaped how I viewed not only the written English language, but how I approached any student, recognizing the unique and individual needs of each student.
My experience working as a writing tutor for two years showed me so many different ways that people communicate. It was my job to discover the way they communicated best, the way they understood their school work, and how they could get their ideas down onto paper in a way that both showed and expressed their voices and opinions, and complied with academic writing. Sometimes this meant putting a recorder down on the table while they talked about their ideas, or taking notes while they spoke. Sometimes it involved telling them to write everything for half an hour on the computer, printing out what they came up with, and cutting it up and rearranging it.
Each person’s mind works in such a beautifully unique way, and it was so much fun getting to understand all of these people.
While learning how best students communicated and how they saw ideas, I was introduced to the concept of multimodal communication, meaning using more than one medium to enhance the meaning of a piece of work. This was an idea that I carried with me to the 2015 National Conference of Peer Tutors in Writing held in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she presented a round-table discussion on the topic.
During this time, I was approached by the head of the college’s Learning Center, asking me to participate in a pilot course which helped to develop mentors while mentoring students. My objective was to learn to mentor while practicing mentorship, and also to help develop the course, finding its strengths and weaknesses, and assure it was ready to launch the following year.
As a mentor, I worked with students not just on how to write their papers, but how to overcome obstacles outside their education sphere which was hindering their learning. I learned how to listen to their blocks and help them work around, or break through entirely, these parts of their life that was halting their success.
After this experience, I was sought out regularly for private, one-on-one tutoring, working with students who needed more than 20-minute sessions in the Writing Centere. This was where I feel the most growth toward my passion and love of writing coaching developed. This was when I knew what I wanted to do.
I now live on a farm in North Yorkshire, writing, tutoring and coaching from home, nestled between the Yorkshire Moors and Yorkshire Dales.