Renew your writing practice with a creative companion and adviser

In other words, meet the pencil sharpener for your creative process. 

Let’s get right to the stakes of your own story. If you have the heart of an artist (which, let’s assume that’s why you’re here) you don’t actually need the grinding accountability of a “get the damn book done” approach or the transactional evaluation of “will the book sell?”

 

The more vital, meaningful question you’re here to live out is this: “how, literally, will I write this work within the real landscape of my life and how can the process itself be life-giving instead of depleting?” 

 

In other words – what benefits the work and the writer?

 

This is the writing practice we’re here to create, nurture, and sustain. 

You’re not an art machine.

The real work of writing is about being and being with. 

Anybody with a whistle and timer could stand over you, demanding that the pages get written.

 

Anybody with an opinion (so, anyone) can blab it, telling you what they really think about your words. 

 

But simple accountability or evaluation don’t get to the heart of really writing. In a true creative practice, all of your life counts, both the time spent with the page and the time spent washing dishes, staring out the window, or waiting in line at the post office. 

 

Writing is about so much more than finishing a project for the sake of it (or worse, abandoning it over worries about whether it’ll be “successful”). Instead, rather than muscle your way towards an outcome, you can nurture a writing practice that helps you feel fulfilled all of the way through. 

 

You can feel energized not only by the writing itself but because of what working on (and yes, eventually completing) the project means to how you feel and who you are.

“It’s my life’s work.
I’m not in a hurry.”
—Helen Garner,
Yellow Notebook

Individualized, personal writing collaboration and consultation

The goal? To breathe new life into the writer and the writing.

Despite what you may have heard, you’re actually the expert on your own work. My role in the magic is to help you shape the most fully realized version of the story, essay, or book that’s living in your mind. Together, we look for opportunities where a piece can grow and expand into the next version of itself.

 

I believe in seeing what you’re trying to do and helping you get there with real insight and care, not simply standing back to evaluate what’s currently on the page. With the approach that the writing itself can and should be a joy, we tend to both your writing practice and the project at hand to help each come alive. 

 

Together we create a generative space with plenty of room for possibility. We fortify not only your work but your relationship WITH your work, and that’s what makes all the difference. 

Where’s your writing right now?

If you have a project that’s gone dormant (or are antsy to start something new):

 

If you have a book, essay, or story  draft ready for fresh eyes:

If an hourly consultation’s more what you need:

"I can't tell you how much fun I'm having with writing this week. 

 

Not to be dramatic but my life has been completely transformed?! The knock-on effect on my mood and my motivation and even my patience in parenting is really noticeable. I'm amazed and delighted and so, so grateful to you."  —Heidi

Ways we can work together

WRITING (AGAIN) FEELS SO GOOD

 

In one month, you can (re)establish your writing practice, animate your creativity, and connect with another writer who really truly gets it (that’s me). A blend of creative support and old-fashioned ass-in-chair time can launch a project, wrap one up, or transition your creative process from fallow period to superbloom.

 

Our month together includes:

 

  • Four weekly 1-hour meetings over Zoom, so you can end the not-writing shame spiral and reconnect with what you’re capable of

  • Weekly individualized homework, writing prompts, reading assignments and/or art adventures that give you space to feel like an artist again

  • Guidance on creating and sustaining a writing practice that actually works in your real life (not Hemingway’s)

  • One round of thoughtful written feedback (developmental critique with line edits) on work up to 20 pages

  • The transition out of inertia and into momentum, with renewed enthusiasm and the discipline to keep going into the next month (and the next)

 

$800

 

MANUSCRIPT REVIEW

 

Congrats – you have a draft! Whether you’ve created a short essay or story or a full-length book project, this review is your space to get professional feedback that’s offered in sincere relationship. With an eye towards what is there (rather simply evaluating what’s not), I offer a combination of craft- and language-oriented detail as well as emotional insight into the text and the piece’s reason for being. You’ll be able to continue on afterwards with clearer insight into what you’ve accomplished and what work may remain. 

 

Your review includes: 

 

  • A professional, thoughtful editorial feedback letter (3-5 pages, single spaced) with big-picture, developmental edits focusing on structure, cohesion, and theme

  • Minor line edits and specific-to-you craft lessons to strengthen not only the manuscript at hand but your skills more broadly

  • A 60-90 minute meeting over Zoom to give your work care and attention, discuss your questions, and infuse new energy into the piece

 

Starting at $250 for essays and stories and $1,500+ for mid- to full-length manuscripts

 

OTHER PROJECTS 

 

I’m available for hourly consultations about writing and publishing, MFA application evaluations, and potentially outside the box projects. Get in touch with your ideas and we’ll see what might work for the both of us.

 

$150/hr

 

“From the readings to the generative prompts and lively discussions, I came away feeling refreshed and invigorated not only to write and read, but to make writing an important part of my daily routine. I'm grateful to you for helping me to feel alive and curious again."     —Riley​

“I felt like you set the bar high for how thoughtfully and carefully you approached each one of the pieces, especially when it came to concrete, creative ways of expanding on what was there. I felt pushed and inspired to think about not just what was already there, but what else could be there."  —Daniela

sarah-mccoll-1.png

I’m a writer, teacher, editor, and your creative companion. 

Hi, I’m Sarah. You might not know me yet, but I already see you.

Here’s what you might think you need to know about me: I’m the author of JOY ENOUGH (Liveright Publishing/Norton, 2019), I hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, I’ve been a MacDowell Fellow and a Pushcart Prize nominee, and I’ve been working one-on-one with writers for ten years. 

 

What you actually need to know about me is that I believe art is a way of being in the world. 

 

I’m much less interested in all the industry chatter, publishing metrics, and “who got their MFA where” than I am in the simple truth that the writing is the point. If you are called to write, if you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard in order to create or make sense of what’s around you, then you are a writer, and your work deserves attention and care. 

As a writer, teacher, and parent juggling many roles, I’m also not one of Jenny Offill's infamous art monsters: the mythical person who can keep “real life” at bay to exclusively live and breathe and be art. And this is actually a good thing, because art and life aren’t adversaries. I believe and know firsthand that the in-between is precisely the space in which the thing you’re craving to create can absolutely get made. 

 

And for me, being your guide throughout that process is truly a thrill.

If writing is not just something you do but is also about who you are, then you are so welcome here. 

You don’t need any particular kind of educational background in order for us to work together. 

 

You don’t need hours and hours of uninterrupted time each week to luxuriously wait for the muse to arrive. 

 

And you don’t need the proverbial room of your own, separate from the messy kitchen and sounds of children and with an uncluttered desk where you can write when the sun hits juuuust right. 

 

What you do need is the inner knowing that the urge to birth this project is never going to leave you until you finally write the damn thing. You’ve got the guts and the hunger. That’s enough. 

Some questions I’ve been asked: 

Do we work together virtually or in-person?

We meet over Zoom, so no matter where you live, there’s a way for us to collaborate. 


Do you offer any sliding-scale rates?

We’re in this writing life together – I understand! Let me know if rates are a concern for you and we can discuss payment plans or longer timelines. 

Can you help me get published?

My approach to our work together is much more process-oriented than outcome-oriented: that is, focused on energizing your creative practice and helping you fully realize the best possible version of your writing project. We can definitely talk about the labyrinth of how publishing works, but we won’t primarily focus on the “marketability” of your writing or the steps you’d take to sell it. 
 

Do you work in my genre?

If your jam is fantasy, sci-fi, romance, or poetry, I’ll be honest that I’m not the right reader for you. I love to dig into literary fiction, stories and essays, memoirs, and creative nonfiction. 
 

I’d like to work together but I have something else in mind… can we talk about a different kind of collaboration?

Sure! I’m open to smaller projects, one-off consultations, and other editing work including MFA applications review. Let’s set up a time to chat about your idea. 

If your work matters to who you are, then your work matters to me. 

Let’s create more space for it to grow.

Get in touch