Are you curious about how to lean into the slower periods and making the most out of that time? How about learning more about publishing deadlines and how to best ask for an extension? Or strategies to help you move closer to your writing goals? We talk about it all and more with Sara Zarr.
Sarah is the acclaimed young adult author of Gem & Dixie, The Lucy Variations, Story of a Girl, and her upcoming novel Goodbye from Nowhere. She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner. Her novels have been variously named to annual best books lists of the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, the Guardian, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library and have been translated into many languages. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and has served as a judge for the National Book Awards.
We kick off our conversation discussing her courageous journey to becoming a full-time author and the importance of creating a life that supports your writing. We discuss finances and how to support yourself, your writing career, and how to sustain it long-term. We then dive into the gravity of community and a support system to lean on as your career evolves.
Further in, we chat about publishing deadlines and how to best make use of the low times during the publishing process to grow other projects or work other jobs to bring in more income. She shares her experience shifting publishers and editors for her book Gem & Dixie, how she avoided a path of bitterness by choosing a gratitude mindset, and how critical it is to not compare yourself to others on social media and ration your social media use.
We also chat about her upcoming young adult novel Goodbye from Nowhere and her first nonfiction novel Courageous Creativity. She shares the invaluable advice of removing our own expiration dates we’ve put on our writing goals. And finally, we wrap up our conversation unpacking her writing process and the steps that help stimulate the flow of her writing.
Books and resources:
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
- Singin’ in the Rain directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly
- Author Sarah Dessen (Check out her podcast episode on 88 Cups of Tea right here!)
- The Artists’ Way by Julia Cameron
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
Check out these highlights:
- Sara’s journey from falling in love with storytelling to becoming an award-winning author
- We get into some real-talk about finances and how to support your writing career and sustain it long-term
- Why it’s pivotal to surround yourself with a supportive community as your career evolves
- Ways to utilize slow periods during the publishing process to grow other projects and bring in side-income
- Sara shares her experience switching publishers and editors and how she learned to choose a gratitude mindset to avoid the path of bitterness
- The best way to ask your publisher to push deadlines
- Why it’s crucial to not compare yourself to others on social media
- How removing expiration dates you’ve set on your writing goals is critical to your growth
- Sara dives into her writing process and the actions she takes to help her get in the writing mode
“All you have to do is give yourself permission and that’s it.”Sara Zarr
“For anyone out there who’s just like ‘There’s an expiration date on my writing goals,’ there is not. There’s only so much you can control, and things are gonna happen in the time that they happen in. You can only do your part showing up, engaging in the work, having good habits, and being yourself.”Sara Zarr
“The answer is in the work. And by that, I mean if you’re struggling with solving a problem in your story, reread everything that you have and every note you’ve ever taken and reread it, reread it, reread it because the answer is probably in there.”Sara Zarr
Say “Hi” to Sara:
Learn more about “Goodbye from Nowhere“
Kyle Baker thought his family was happy. Happy enough, anyway. That’s why, when Kyle learns that his mother has been having an affair and his father has been living with the secret, his reality is altered. He quits baseball, ghosts his girlfriend, and generally checks out life as he’s known it. With his older sisters out of the house and friends who don’t get it, the only person he can talk to is his cousin Emily—who is always there on the other end of his texts, but still has her own life, hours away.
Kyle’s parents want him to keep the secret of his mother’s affair from the rest of the family until after what might be their last big summer reunion. As Kyle watches the effects of his parents’ choices ripple out over friends, family, and strangers, and he feels the walls of his relationships closing in, he has to decide what his obligations are to everyone he cares for—including himself.
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr returns with an intimate, exquisitely crafted novel of anxiety and identity, of the ways that secrets keep us together and pull us apart, and of the courage it takes to see those we love for who they are.
Learn more about Sara Zarr
Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of six novels for young adults, most recently Gem & Dixie, which received three starred reviews. She’s a National Book Award finalist and two-time Utah Book Award winner. Her novels have been variously named to annual best books lists of the American Library Association, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, the Guardian, the New York Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library and have been translated into many languages. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and has served as a judge for the National Book Awards. Sara lives in Salt Lake City with her husband and online at www.sarazarr.com.
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