Creative Decluttering

Say What? offers thought provocation, narrative elaboration, creative decluttering, and stress reduction for students with a writing challenge.

Whether it’s a college application essay, an academic paper, a resume or cover letter for an internship, a summer program application, or practicing for an ACT or SAT written essay, together we’ll do the incredible, and do it on deadline.

Let's Get Started!

Clarity, poetry, and power all reside within you. Text, or call Sue Zemel at 415-845-5984, or email Say What? at for more info and rates.

Coaching sessions are held in person at my kitchen table in Greenbrae, Marin County, or remotely, via phone and Internet (Zoom, Skype & Google Docs, for real-time editing.) 


Celebrate That College Essay

Students, there’s a lot more you in you than transcripts and test scores. Your college essay needs to be an outburst, a well-told celebration of what makes you unique and memorable.

We’ll look in, go deep, surface the humor, outrage, pathos, joy, vitality, and authenticity that makes your story sing!

Your writing coach will embolden you to be brave hearted, free, and explosive -- stand where you are, write what you know! It’s all in the details.





"Say What? was very helpful in my process of writing my college essays. Sue is very kind, smart, and experienced. She helped me turn my essays from ordinary into extraordinary."

-Applicant to multiple colleges, Class of 2021

"Sue has been an amazing, patient, level headed counsellor through this challenging process. Her input - from grammatical errors to the strategizing - was invaluable. She was available for my son even at short notice which is priceless especially close to the deadline. Highly recommend Say What?!

- Parent of University of Michigan, Ross Business School undergraduate, Class of 2022


Get Help With Critical Questions

·      How do you choose your essay topic and invent a compelling narrative in your own style? 

·      How do you mine and mind your experience, showing not just telling the story?

·      Where might your story go, what themes can you excavate and exploit?

·      How can you structure your narrative and pace your words to create a vivid and unforgettable experience for your audience? 

·      What do you really sound like? What can you hear from reading aloud?

·      What questions beneath the answers will you expose to make your reflection luminous? 


“Say What? helped me focus and expand my ideas. It made the essay experience a lot more fun and I felt great about my writing when all was said and done, hah!"

-UC Santa Cruz freshman, Class of 2021.

“Say What? allowed us to step back and let a trusted writer work with our daughter. We were thrilled with the results and recommend this service for any family going through the college application process."

- Parent of UC Berkeley graduate, Class of 2018