The Hyphen: Books, Breathing & Back2Skool

Hi friends—

Hope all is well,

September is my all-time favourite month. For me, it has the hopefulness of New Year’s (without the intense pressure) and the imprinted nostalgia of new pencil cases and box fresh shoes. Before I was self-employed I would always look for a new job in September, like it was ingrained somehow in my internal body clock. I couldn’t escape those excitable itchy feelings of a fresh start. September for me is absolutely synonymous with change. I’ve also changed my hair. Was it Coco Chanel who said “a woman who changes her hair, is about to change her life?”

I am having a very ‘back to school’ week having taken a break from this newsletter (and everything else) for August. Hopefully you enjoyed some of the old replays I posted on Ctrl Alt Delete. I’ve always wanted to take a proper ‘break’ but always found an excuse as to why it couldn’t happen. I have a brilliant team and a business that can keep its own wheels turning for a hot minute. I always felt a jealous twang in my chest when people reminisced about their gap year, feeling like I’d completely missed the boat — except I didn’t want gap year, I wanted a gap month.

And after a very busy July (launching my debut novel OLIVE) and a busy September looming (launching my new non-fiction SABOTAGE), August was winking at me. I was afraid to do it. For so long I assumed having a long period of time off was too luxurious, naughty and bad. (Where does this bullshit come from?) And I felt these feelings coming back to me, because of the strange times we’re in. Work felt like the only safe place to exist, even though I was burned out. When the world is crumbling around us, we can often make sense of our own path again. When the distractions of the physical world disappear, there’s literally nowhere else to go but inward.

Lockdown inspired me to hit the reset button. I used to be that person that said “yolo” flippantly before making a stupid decision as an excuse if it all went wrong. Now I genuinely think yolo. Actual yolo. I think so many of us are currently going through —or about to make— MAJOR life changes. We are not the same people who entered into 2020. Every single one of us has changed. I feel pretty unrecognisable. And with that comes great joy (stronger bonds, self-knowledge, internal balance) and great pain (friendships that weren’t quite strong enough to survive a new norm, owning up to uncomfortable truths and saying goodbye to old ways).

Hope you enjoy today’s newsletter. (If there’s anything you’d like me to share in next week’s newsletter, or anything you’d like to see more of, just drop me an email me at

Emma xo


7 things I did recently to ‘reset’ myself:

1. I kept a journal.
I used to roll my eyes whenever anyone suggested this. But it’s been so good to get everything down on paper, and has helped me process things, and stop things from anxiously floating around in my head.

2. I ‘paused’ social apps on my Google phone. For me, I just get tetchy if I delete them completely. It’s like ex-smokers having to have a packet in a drawer, not touching it, but just knowing they’re there. Putting Insta, Twitter and emails on pause is something I want to continue doing on weekends and evenings.

3. I learned to breathe properly. I listened to the audiobook ‘Breath’ by James Nestor and realised I can soothe my own anxiety literally by changing the way I breathe. It’s crazy how much we hold our breath when we’re stressed or agitated.

4. I hired a life-coach. This is an idea I had toyed with for ages but had not met the right person yet. It’s a relationship based on trust and vulnerability and I found someone brilliant who I felt really myself with. Looking forward to talking about the benefits of this more soon, if anyone might be interested.

5. I re-read Big Magic. I am supposed to start working on a new (daunting) creative project soon and I was feeling as flat as a pancake about it. (Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled with how OLIVE has done, but there is a weird anti-climax once all the hard work is over.) Big Magic helped me remind myself why I do this work.

6. I walk an hour a day. I still despise exercise and find most fitness videos on Instagram triggering and off-putting — but walking I can do, and really enjoy. Inspired by the brilliant Adrienne Herbert, who makes exercise feel accessible to all.

7. I read before bed. Booooooks. So many books. I’ll be putting my book recommendations over on @thehyphenbookclub.

My NEW non-fiction book SABOTAGE hits the shelves on the 24th September. THIS MONTH!

Sabotage is a book about challenging the behaviours that keep getting in our way.

🌱 Do you have a loud inner critic?

🌱 Do you start to worry when things are going well?

🌱 Do you clam up over self-promotion?

🌱 Do you have a creative project you feel stuck on?

You can pre-order yours now! (and if you’re a US subscriber, you can pre-order the US version here!)


What’s New on Ctrl Alt Delete Podcast?

This week's podcast is with the brilliant Zoe Sugg: author, entrepreneur, content creator and business owner.

In this episode we talk about life in lockdown, her journey with anxiety and her mental health digital detox campaign with Lush and I Am Whole.

Plus why she decided to separate her Zoe Sugg and Zoella channels on social media, how to run a business, and how to structure your day when you're working on multiple things. We had lots to talk about and I hope you enjoy this one! Listen wherever you get your podcasts.


Things I’ve Consumed This Week:


The brilliant Selina Barker has launched her very own Audible series called The Career Change Coach. I will be listening to this on a long walk soon, even though I don’t necessarily want to change my career, I love listening to Selina’s pep talk voice. I think this will really help anyone wanting to make a career change right now.

I really enjoyed listening to Jia Tolentino on the Ezra Klein podcast talking about what happens when life turns into an endless performance. This episode feels even more relevant to pandemic times perhaps, a time when we are/were existing mostly online on Zoom/digital platforms.

There might be something psychological about how much I am daydreaming about other people’s houses right now, being trapped inside my own. I’ve become totally obsessed with Architectural Digest, Selling Sunset and houses featured in Domino Mag - like this, the home of producer Camilla Blackett, in California with an outdoor bath. Swoon.


FYI: an event!

  • I am very excited to be taking part in Cheltenham Literature Festival this year, IN REAL LIFE, on 7th October, tickets and more info here (where you can also alternatively sign up for the livestream!)

Click here to join 50,000+ students by signing up to my Skillshare class! "5 Exercises To Build Creative Confidence"


Thanks for subscribing! I'm Emma, the person behind this newsletter. I am the bestselling author of The Multi-Hyphen Method, SABOTAGE, and my debut novel OLIVE, and creator of the hit podcast series Ctrl Alt Delete. You can also follow me on Instagram here, and Twitter here.

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