Advice I gave my sister

Newsletter editor Rachel here

Is anyone else dippin’ out on cyber Monday/black Friday shopping this year?

I feel more over it than ever before. Which is deeply ironic since everything I own fits into the back of a Subaru Forrester. 

If there were ever a time to splurge on myself, this would be it. But I’m not going to. I’ve gotten used to spartan living. My three flannels, camping gear, and neon pink roller skates bring me so much joy. I don’t want other stuff.

I’ve found out that I prefer experiences over things. 

If it can break or tear I don’t want it. If it’s going to be used only once and then clutter up my home and my mind space, I’ll pass. If it takes batteries or effort to put it together –oh hell no!

That said, I DO have my eye on a snorkeling class off the coast of Puerto Rico for myself. I am debating buying a kid-friendly pottery night for my sister and her kiddos. And I know my mom would love a season pass to take my nephews to the trampoline park (it’s as much for her as much as it is for the nephews).

And I know with 100 percent certainty that my sister would THRIVE attending one of our writing retreats this year. 

Here’s the catch with my sister: she cannot be told what to do or else she resists it with every inch of her being. So when I want to suggest that she do something, I have to convince her that it was her idea in the first place. (Don’t worry, I already signed her up for our free writing events coming up so Catherine Connors can work her magic). 

My sister is a brilliant writer. She is creative, sassy, and intuitively knows what will snag a reader’s attention. She once wrote a blog post for Burts Bees that had me on the floor laughing– and it was about chapstick.

BUT. . . she isn’t consistent with her writing. 

Over the weekend, I hid in a corner of my parents' house to get some work done in silence. I was typing away and my sister was supposedly working too. . . she was actually shopping for winter tights.

“I feel like a failure when it comes to writing.” She said suddenly. 


I had ZERO idea what she was talking about.

She went on to explain that she knows she’s a good writer. She knows she is talented and creative but can’t force herself to do it. Instead of writing, she works on home improvement projects, she gets distracted on Tiktok, she researches wallpaper for her dream home. . . she does anything but write. 

“Well. . . that’s all of us,” I said. “Every single writer knows how impossible it is to sit down and start. It’s kind of a joke among writers about how difficult it is to focus at first. It’s intimidating and painful and soooo frustrating. But then you do it every single day and you start slow and keep going. It’s like a reflex. You train your brain to know that at a certain time each day you will sit down and do some highly focussed writing.”

She had NEVER heard that before. 

She’s been an editor, creative writer, English teacher, and copywriter for a decade and she still didn’t know this truism about writing. 

I thought every writer knew that starting every single day was the hardest part.

This upcoming year we have 4 writing retreats planned. I want to buy my sister the first one in February because I know it will change her writing trajectory. Catherine, who is condensing her 6-week writing course into a weekend intensive, is simply incredible. And her writing framework will help my sister create time, prioritize writing, focus, set goals, and feel energized about writing instead of like she is a failure. 

I also know from first-hand experience that sometimes getting out of a writing rut takes a physical relocation. Staring out the same window at the rainy suburban sky is NOT inspiring. But carting off to a mountain retreat in lovely California gets allllll the creative synapses firing again. 

I know this writing retreat will jumpstart her writing again. But she has to want it for herself too, and this isn't something I have any control over. But I will continue to talk up our writing retreats and send her inspiring quotes from Catherine. (It's all about the long game!)

In the meantime, if you are feeling stuck in your writing, just know that we all feel that way in the beginning- and often in the middle and end - and this does NOT mean that you are a failure. You might just need a kickstart. 

If you feel like this is you, go ahead and check out our Write-Off Retreat.

And who knows? If all goes according to my strategic plan, you might meet my sister there.