How to stay sane during the fall book season.

fall trees

Heads up, writers: this is the time of year that our dear writing industry (bless it for existing) starts its economic hustle. Take a deep breath: creativity, meet capitalism.

It’s fall book season.

What an exciting time for bookstores, readers, and arts media.

It’s good for writers, too. But if you’re not shortlisted for a prize, or if your book doesn’t have an agent, or if you haven’t written the story you want to have written, then the feelings that come up for you in this atmosphere might be…mixed.


Here are some reminders to keep you sane:

1. Fall book campaigns mean you’re going to be seeing more publicity, promotion, and sales and marketing from publishers and authors than usual, and you’ll hear more about holiday shopping and book prizes.

2. Fall books are released in a storm like this on purpose, so they make money for the industry that prints them and sells them.

3. Remember that book prizes are also about selling books. It’s not a coincidence that the book prize lists come out before people have made their holiday shopping lists. This is an economic decision that benefits our writing economy.

4. Selling books is what keeps our bookstores and libraries and publishing industry healthy. We need book sales.


If you’re feeling prickles of professional jealousy or if you’re hanging out in the low puddles that come from comparing yourself to other writer’s milestones, remind yourself that those feelings are just telling you want you really want to do, deep in your heart.

You want to write.

Good! When you know that, and make decisions based on that, you can change the direction of your energy and put it into your own work.

You might choose to lean in and support the economy that will soon support you: buy the hardcover editions of new releases and celebrate the wins.

Or, you may choose to simply hide out until this season is over, avoid reading the writing news, and focus on writing what you want to read.

I’ve taken both approaches, and they both work!

Just as long as you remember that this is a weird time for writers. If you are feeling jangly feelings about your career right now, it’s totally normal. And it will pass. By January, you’ll feel your equilibrium come back.

Your homework:

Take this time to look back and see your own milestones. Stack them up.

What have you accomplished already? So much. If you focus on what you haven’t finished, you’ll only see the lack. Make a list right now.

Did you do writing practice once a week for a month? Did you submit a query to an agent? Did you read something that taught you how to approach POV differently? Did you publish a story in a magazine? Did you make a date with a writing buddy?

What promises have you made to your writing? Which ones have you kept?

WRITE THOSE THINGS DOWN SO YOU CAN RECOGNIZE THEM.

When you’ve written your list, please share one of the items on your list with me here.

Love,



Hello from the rabbit hole.
Does a real writer stop taking writing workshops?

6 comments

Hi, Sarah The Story Intensive has been my biggest commitment to writing this year! I left the idea of it bounce around in my mind for about two years, but that's okay. I think, for me, taking The Story Course first allowed me the familiarity with the course material to dive in deeper with The Intensive. New ideas and writing concepts are taking root. I can feel it. A new approach to writing has already happened. I no longer hide from writing. ..by doing housework or taking a nap...because writing could be demanding and critical and who needs more of that in life. .. Now, I look for writing tine...we hang out inside or outside. We have lots of notebooks and pens and lots of choices. Sometimes we just play with writing prompts and other times, we dive into the tough stuff... Writing feels like an opportunity. Thank you, Sarah. You and Tara and all of my classmates are an amazing part of this writing journey.
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Hi Sandy! Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad that The Story Intensive is feeding you and your writing — success! May you continue to feel motivated as the lessons continue. xo S
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Hi Colleen! I read your comment and was just nodding yes, yes, yes as I read. Liz Gilbert said something similar -- that writing is like feeling in love. When you're in love with someone, you make time for each other, and it feels easy. Because it's LOVE. No question. The laundry does not take priority over doing the thing that makes your heart race. Saying no to other obligations is huge: well done for figuring this out! And congratulations on making time for The Story Intensive AND your full time job. Respect. xo S
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Colleen Gonzalez

Hi Sarah, Signing up for The Story Intensive was a big commitment to my writing. With a full-time job, it has taught me to organize my writing time better and about saying no to other things in order to prioritize my writing. I've had to miss some things and say no and it's a good thing. If I'm ever going to do this, I have to learn how to make my writing a big, huge, important part of my life. I hope I carry these lessons over after the class. I've loved having this deeper relationship to my writing and just like a relationship, it has it's rough patches too. Sometimes when I get depressed about struggling or feeling like my work sucks, I try to stop and remind myself that feeling that intense about stuff I'm purely making up makes me a real writer. No one is forcing me to do this. I'm enjoying the whole ride! I can't wait to read about all the wonderful accomplishments going on! Thanks so much Sarah!
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Susan! This is wonderful. I think waiting for a couple of years before jumping into The Intensive was just right -- sometimes we subconsciously prepare for a big life change by laying psychic groundwork. House metaphor (I use these often lately, after renovating our house): you have to lay the tubes for radiant heating under the floor before you do anything else. I'm so pleased to hear what is happening for you in The Intensive this year -- that change that you describe is something that can stay with you forever. Even if the connection fluctuates (which, in life, it's bound to do) now you know what it feels like, and you can always go back to it. BRAVA. Huge success. Thank you for showing up for your writing. xo S
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Sandy Poitras

I made a commitment to my creative writing by taking The Story Intensive. It's working well for me because I am a terrible procrastinator. Now I show up to write creatively, every week. Even the simple act of communicating regularly with fellow writers is a success for me! It has proven both inspirational and motivational. Thank you for caring, Sarah. I look forward to reading about alumnis' success stories!
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