Wisdom from the Writing Desk – Pay Attention to Fall

By Erik Hane

If you’re anything like me, you’re very glad that it’s almost Labor Day; summer is too hot, too humid, too stifling. The editors are on vacation, it’s annoying trying to write with the air conditioning on full blast, and it’s too sunny out to feel good about holing up inside and working on whatever creative thing we’ve got half-finished on a hard drive somewhere.

But it is almost Fall. And that means, for writers, it is time to start paying attention.

Fall is typically when your dream literary journal reopens for submissions; it’s when that agent you firmly believe has a taste for exactly your sort of project starts reading their queries with actual vigor, now that they aren’t too hot to think straight. Fall also happens to be when most of the year’s Big Books come out. No matter your category or genre, the next few months probably feature some major releases worth going out and buying, or at least noting that they exist. If you’re trying to get a handle on the current trends in your genre, the next few months are a great time to watch the new releases, know which publishers or agents are talking about which books, and see what’s getting reviewed, and by whom. We’re coming up on the busy season in publishing, which means lots of news and discussion, which means lots of information newly available for anyone trying to understand the book world better.

Something else looms though, in Fall. And we might as well get a handle on it now to save the headache later. November is almost here. It doesn’t feel like it, but it is, and by the time you finish reading this post it will basically be October 27th and it will occur to you mid-sip of whatever your artisanal latte of choice is: I have not prepared for NaNoWriMo.

It doesn’t have to be that way though! We can use the Fall. We can plan out that novel we’re going to spend a month writing, or we can make sure we’ve gotten our beta readers to finish a pass before we take another hack at revision. The key to feeling good about November—the month of a million #amwriting tweets—is to have a good September and October. It is to take advantage of fall, to treat it as the cooled-off fresh start that it is and start doing the legwork now. I’d hate to call September something like National Novel Planning Month, because NaNoPlaMo sounds terrible, but you get the idea. Let’s use this time. Let’s pay attention, because this is the season when it is most worth doing so.




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