Tuesday, September 25, 2018

How is a Writers' Conference like a Pumpkin-Spice Latte? by Angela Arndt

Warning: the following topic of pumpkin-spice lattes may be divisive and controversial. Take care when mentioning this post in mixed company or among family members.

Time for Pumpkin Spice Latte!

Autumn is Here

The calendar says that autumn began Saturday, September 22nd, but the leaves won’t change until November in my neck-of-the-woods. Here we have two seasons, Unbearably-Hot-and-Muggy followed by Cold-and-Rainy. Our autumn separates the two for about week-and-a-half. But it’s my favorite season, I've already indulged in one of my favorite drinks: pumpkin spice latte or PSL. I love the color with its pumpkin orange and autumn leaf brown swirls in that creamy goodness. But I think the spicy clove-cinnamon-ginger-nutmeg blend tastes like autumn-in-a-cup.

But PSL is understandably a byword for overindulgence to some, especially with all the new and ridiculous pumpkin-spice products that come out each year. There are sweet things of course, like pumpkin-spice cookies and shakes, but can you imagine pumpkin spice kale chips, pumpkin spice pretzels, or even pumpkin spice salsa?

Too much of anything, even something wonderful, is sickening. As much as I love this recipe for PSL, I only buy one can of pumpkin. When the can is empty, there are no more seasonal coffees in this house.

Too Much is Too Much

Laundry, laundry, laundry
Conferences not only teach writers new things, but they all help refresh us. Remember that one conference you attended where you stayed at that gorgeous hotel? People from all over the world gathered and everyone talked the language of writing. And those amazing sessions! Afterward, you talked with friends until the wee hours.

It was as great as that first sip of PSL.


When you returned home, you were exhausted. Thoughts of how to update your website, create tweets and memes, ask engaging questions on your blog posts, plus all the ways you could fix your novel filled your head until it hurt. The list was as enormous as the stack of laundry that somehow doubled in size while you were gone.

Where do you begin? 

Some teachings are full of sweet PSL-ness and while others go down like pumpkin-spice kale. How do you decide which advice to take? Here are a few tips I use:
  • Create a list of Action items from the handouts and your notes, then prioritize. 
  • Is it more important to update your website or should you finish editing your book and in the proposal that agent requested? 
  • If you’ve finished your final edits and you have 27 followers on Facebook, it’s probably time to start making memes. 

Beat the Doubts Before They Begin

I have the habit of attention to such excess, that my senses get no rest - but suffer from a constant strain. Henry David Thoreau**

What did Thoreau mean? His mind is under a constant strain from worry and you may be, too. There's always a “honeymoon” period when you get home. Ideas for your book come free and easy. You'll find time for social media. You may even start making those changes to your website or crafting that proposal.

But, around the time I put the last spoonful of pumpkin in my coffee,
 you’ve probably begun to fall back into your comfortable habits. Worse yet, doubts creep into your mind. “Who do I think I am? I can't do this.” 

Stop worry. Squash those doubts. Keep going. 
Nothing stifles creativity faster than guilt.

Here’re a few tricks that help me when I'm doubting:

  • Create a schedule and try to stick to it. Are you a morning person? Try to find a time to write in the morning. Night owl? Stay up a little later to get a few words in.
  • When you're fast-drafting, words are words, don't worry so much about quality until re-writes.
  • Find a writing friend or two and encourage each other.
  • When you get an encouraging note, email, or message, put it in a special folder so you can re-read it when "the doubts" come.
  • If you see something online that encourages you, share it on your favorite social media. Then, take ten minutes a day to like or comment on your followers’ posts. If you try to encourage someone else every day, you'll be encouraged.
  • When Christmas or a family emergency interrupt, take the time you need to be with your family. Nothing stifles creativity faster than guilt.
  • Write down the reasons you fell in love with writing.
My pumpkin spice lattes are refreshing to me, a signal that change is coming. Writers conferences are meant to renew and refresh writers through teaching, fellowship and even pampering. It's my hope each time I attend one that my writing will change for the better and that I'll be one step closer to my dream. 

Click to Tweet: Writers, when you’re discouraged, try to remember why you fell in love with writing. @aearndt #amwriting

Click to Tweet: How is a writers conference like pumpkin spice latte? Angela Arndt shares the comparison on #SeriouslyWrite. @aearndt #amwriting

What’s the best tip you ever got from a writers conference? 

I've got to ask: how do you feel about pumpkin spice lattes? If you hate them, what's your favorite Autumn tradition? Leave a comment below. I'd love to hear from you.

About the Author

Angela Arndt
Angela Arndt is Jesus-follower and God-lover. She loves to write women’s fiction with a thread of romance and tell stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their own “back roads” to find their joy in the Lord.

She and her husband, Charles, live on a bee farm in the middle of a big wood with their three dogs, Beau, Harley, Buddy the Wonder Dog, and their new kitten, Poppet.

She's also team-member of Seriously Write. Click here for more posts by Angie. By the way, she'd love for you to join her on her websiteInstagramTwitter, or Facebook

*  TwainQuotes 


  1. I like pumpkin ice cream. Great tips for whether you've attended a recent conference or not, Angie.

    1. My thoughts exactly! ... except for the pumpkin ice cream part. I've never heard of it but now I want to try some. ;)
      But agree, these tips are great whether or not someone is going to conference. Thanks for putting this together!

    2. I think Eddy's makes it, Anita. It tastes like pumpkin pie. :)

  2. Thanks so much, Sandy! I haven't tried pumpkin ice cream! Sounds delish!

  3. I agree, A.M! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. You're welcome!

  4. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are great for snacks--maybe not so much for breakfast, though!

    1. I like my Cherrios dry, too. I'm not sure what the milk would do to all that pumpkin spicyness. :)

  5. Pumpkin cheesecake - divine!

    Oh, my brain is so overloaded after conferences I’m not sure I can think of just one thing to name. A biggie for me is being around all the other writers and the sense of energy it gives me. I go home brimming with ideas.

    1. Yes, yes, yes! That energy is so exciting and calming at the same time. It's like we're with family. Kind of like being with my Seriously Write family. ;)


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