Ailsa Bristow

Writing Coach and Workshop Facilitator


When Ailsa was a little girl her mother gave her a beautiful book, full of creamy blank pages.

Inside it said, “for stories.” She never looked back, falling in love with the way that words allowed her to connect with worlds beyond herself.

Ailsa went on to study English Literature, gaining her Masters in Modern and Contemporary Fiction. Though she loved this opportunity to immerse herself in the world of words, she came to realize that academic settings had stifled much of the wonder and openness that she had brought to writing. Harsh critique and competition made her wonder if she was even a writer at all.

When she first moved to Toronto from the UK, she quickly discovered Firefly Creative Writing. It was around that table that Ailsa was able to rediscover the magic of weaving stories and sharing with others, and to first find the confidence to send her work out into the world. She has since published a handful of short stories, and is currently working on her second novel.

Ailsa has travelled along the same road as many writers – charging headfirst into a new story, and then taking unexpected detours, tumbling down plot holes, and sometimes even abandoning the journey altogether. She knows the ups and the downs; she also knows that every writer’s path is unique. As a writing coach, she is able to bring deep curiosity and compassion to both the work and the process, and an intuitive appreciation for what is distinctive and strong in a writer’s work.

When she isn’t immersing herself in words, Ailsa can be found calming her busy-brain through knitting everything from sweaters and socks to cozies for crooked teapots. Her ideal day would involve driving out of the city, walking in crisp bright sunshine, discovering a tucked away brewery, and then snuggling up with a book when she gets home.

Ailsa did her Firefly Creative Writing coach and facilitator training in 2017. You can read more about her writing and work outside of Firefly here.

What clients are saying…


I’m so glad I took the Keep your Pen Moving class with Ailsa! It’s motivated me to finally start writing my novel, which I had been putting off for years and I had the opportunity to workshop the first chapter in class. Ailsa created a welcoming, positive and non-intimidating environment. Would definitely recommend!

Sarah Hunter

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Working on a story with Ailsa takes all anguish, anxiety, and self-doubt out of the editing process. She has been perceptive, sharp, and conscientious as she has gone through my stories, picking up on all the right details (or lack thereof) and asking all the right questions. Even if it turns out a story needs a lot of work, Ailsa’s help makes me feel confident and inspired, ready to go back and tweak or rewrite based on her suggestions and commentary. Without a doubt, I wholeheartedly recommend Ailsa’s services as consultant/editor.

Nicole Brewer
Writer, Editor, Publisher

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Ailsa is one of the warmest, most supportive and insightful facilitators I’ve known. She nurtured the art of writing with ease, unleashing creativity and confidence in us all. Keep Your Pen Moving kept my pen moving and my juices flowing! The class was a deeply moving and inspiring experience. I feel more connected to that part of me that wants to write, thanks to this session.

Marianne Chilco
Communications Professional