write better, write now

About Us

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The Writing Center was established with a single goal: to help individuals more effectively express themselves through the written word. 



Founder Paula Barksdale first recognized the need for extracurricular writing instruction working with students in her college counseling practice. Many of her high school juniors and seniors lacked the basic skills and confidence to successfully navigate the college application process without some writing assistance. At the same time, confident writers were frustrated by the dearth of creative writing opportunities and instruction within the school system. Paula has been connecting students with writing coaches ever since.



Since its founding in Los Angeles in 2010, The Writing Center's focus has expanded to include counseling for writers of all ages and interests -- from elementary, middle and high school children to blossoming novelists to business executives and job seekers. The Writing Center team has developed a broad network of experienced coaches, each carefully screened and trained to meet The Writing Center standards, serving the South Bay and all of Los Angeles.

Paula Barksdale, Founder

For more than a decade, Paula has helped high school students in Los Angeles define and achieve academic goals as the principal of Manhattan Beach-based Paula Barksdale & Associates college advisory services. Under Paula’s guidance, the college application process can be a time of great personal reflection and self-discovery, an integral part of which is the ability to communicate that personal vision in clear, written English. Recognized for her work throughout the industry, Paula is a member of the University of Georgia High School Advisory Council and the exclusive Bird Dog group of educational consultants.  She is a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling, the Western Association of College Admission Counseling and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA).

Prior to establishing Paula Barksdale & Associates college advisory services, Paula worked in corporate marketing and was a successful entrepreneur. Those experiences instilled in her a passion for effective communication and the business skills necessary to help The Writing Center succeed in its mission. She earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her MBA from The University of California, Los Angeles.

Josh Stein-Sapir, Managing Director

Josh Stein-Sapir graduated from Columbia University with honors, earning a B.A. in English.  He is a published author whose work has appeared in New York Moves magazine and whose poetry has received several awards of distinction from poetry.com. Josh is also an experienced editor of novels, screenplays and advertising copy. As a teacher, Josh has coached students with college essays, term papers and general writing skills. While living in New York, he participated in the America Reads initiative, an after school educational program for underprivileged students.

As managing director of The Writing Center, Josh is responsible for all aspects of the client relationship, assigning writing coaches to new students and ensuring student objectives are satisfied.

John Barksdale, Editorial Director

John Barksdale is a professional communicator with 20 years experience in corporate and private consulting environments, including managing public relations activities for mid-size and Fortune 500 businesses. John is responsible for setting quality expectations for The Writing Center’s coaching team so their work meets the highest editorial standards.

John is an award winning writer and editor, whose work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, from the Christian Science Monitor to text books on the craft of writing. He has served on the executive board of the Los Angeles chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators and chairs the communications directorate at Manhattan Beach Community Church in Los Angeles County.

John received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and a master’s degree in Communications Management from the University of Southern California.