ⓘ Sheila Bender


ⓘ Sheila Bender

Benders many books on writing include Creative Writing DeMystified, Writing and Publishing Personal Essays, Writing in a New Convertible with the Top Down, Keeping a Journal You Love, A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery, The Writers Journal: Forty Writers and Their Journals, and Perfect Phrases for College Application Essays. Her memoir, A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, chronicles how reading and writing poetry helped her cope after the loss of her 25-year-old son and find a way to live with love in the spirit of her son. Her newest collection of poems, entitled Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, appeared in 2012.

She has devoted most of her career to the teaching of writing and the improvement of writing instruction. In addition to her dozen books on writing, she has written instructional and feature articles for Writers Digest magazine and The Writer magazine. She founded WritingItReal.com, where she provides an online instructional magazine for those who write from personal experience and offers individual as well as online group writing instruction.

Bender provided the prompts to the innovative journaling software LifeJournal with Chronicles Software, which helps writers not only generate interesting journal content, but organize and retrieve their ideas. She is also a regular instructor, panelist, and presenter at writing and educational conferences, including at Centrum Foundation in Port Townsend, Washington, and many locations where annual Writing It Real conferences have been held, such as Port Townsend; Oracle, Arizona; Nashville, Tennessee; and Istanbul, Turkey.

Bender is well known for her three-step response method that helps authors receive response from trusted listeners, which empowers authors efforts at revision rather than have them feel their work is being "critiqued" or "torn apart," as the root of that word implies. Authors, she believes, can improve their writing and best fix their drafts after they have heard 1) the words and phrases that stick in the listeners /readers ears, 2a) the feelings listeners/readers have after hearing/reading a piece that they feel are in keeping with what the author attempted, 2b) the feelings that are in the way of fully appreciating the work such as places of confusion and feeling left out, and 3) curiosities, where the audience wishes to know.


1. Education

Bender graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in English and earned an MAT in Secondary Education from Keane College and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in anthologies, newspapers, and literary magazines around North America, including The Bellingham Review, Northwest Passage, Poetry Northwest, The Seattle Times, and the Womens Studies Quarterly.

She lives and works in Port Townsend, Washington.


2. Publications

Benders books on writing

  • Writing Personal Poetry: Creating Poems from Your Life Experiences, 1999.
  • Writing and Publishing Personal Essays, 2005.
  • The Writers Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and Their Journals, 1997.
  • Keeping a Journal You Love, 2001.
  • Creative Writing DeMystified, 2010
  • Perfect Phrases for College Application Essays, 2008.
  • Writing and Publishing Your Essays, 2003.
  • The Writers Journal, 1996.
  • A Year in the Life: Journaling for Self-Discovery, 2000.
  • Writing in a New Convertible with the Top Down: A Unique Guide for Writers with Christi Killien, 1992.
  • Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page, 2002.


  • A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief 2009.


  • Near the Light, 1983.
  • Love from the Coastal Route: Poems, 1991.
  • Sustenance: New and Selected Poems, 1999.

Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, 2012


  • Washington State Poets Association Anthology, 2004
  • We Used to Be Wives, 2002
  • Boomer Girls, 1999

Women Writing on Family, 2011 Women on Poetry, 2012


  • LifeJournal for Writers with Chronicles Software