Tag Archives: conferences

Writer’s Training

Today Dear Daughter begins driver’s training.  She’s thrilled beyond words to start this part of her life’s journey.  For two weeks she’ll learn the basics in the classroom portion.  When to stop, when to yield, when to merge.  Upon her 15th birthday, she’ll have the pleasure of taking her written test.

A straight “A” student, she’s already passed the exam in her head.  She’s not worried about her ability to answer the questions correctly so she can receive her permit.  Then watch out world, she’ll be road-ready–with a parent–until she completes behind the wheel in another year and takes her actual test.

She’s five foot nothing and fearless.  To her, driving is coveted.  It’s something she looks forward to doing in a way Eldest never did.  For DD, her permit and license represent freedom and success.  For Eldest, it was simply a natural part of growing up.  Something you do so your parents don’t have to drive you to band practice. 

He’s conservative: DD is ready for a cross-country road trip–or cruising the square, at the very least.

Our writing journey is similar.  At some point in our lives, we look at books in a different way.  We see them as a vehicle to another future, and so we begin our own training.

Writer’s training.

Some of us are fearless and just know we’ll succeed.  We never doubt that our novels will take us on a cross-country trek, so we begin the journey with a grand road trip in mind.  Others fall into writing as a means to an end. 

Regardless, we all go through writer’s training. 

Do you remember the moment you decided to write?  How have you trained for your journey, both in the classroom and behind the wheel?  What kind of driver writer are you: fearless and bold or quietly clocking the miles to success?

Curious minds want to know.

Home again, home again. Jiggity-jig.

Okay, so it wasn’t quite that fast.  Forty eight hours on a bus in less than a week is more snailish than anything.  Certainly not worthy of jigging.  But home, sweet home.  Nothing in the world is like it.

After six nights of sleeping in various beds, I finally got to sleep in my own last night.  I woke up to my alarm clock–a soothing melody–and not the annoying buzz of the hotel version.  I drank my coffee, not a six-dollar Starbucks’.  At home, I get free refills and don’t have to wait in line.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Youth Gathering was amazing.  The food delicious.  The atmosphere out of this world.  I recharged my spirit and soaked up the energy of thousands of kids.  I even participated in the Guinness worthy “largest boomwhacker choir”.  It was a blast.

Writing conferences are like that.  They energize the soul and spark the creative muse.  They feed us with delicious tidbits and foster lasting friendships.  They are the lifeblood and the pulse of the writing community.

But at the end of it all, the experience is nothing more than a jumping off point.  At a National Youth Gathering with 30,000 people or a conference with 120 people, the experience is ours to take from and use when we get home.

 I guarantee you that returning to the comfort of your bed, your morning coffee and the melodious buzz of your real life will suck the energy away if you do not foster it. 

You can lead a horse to water…

You can equip a writer or a Christian with all the tools they need to succeed in their newfound lifestyle, but you cannot make them use the tools you have given them.  Nor should they use every one immediately.

Vomiting children will take time and patience.  Demanding jobs will suck up valuable time.  Significant others will require the return of our affection and rejections will weigh us down. 

My recommendation for those who attend conferences, conventions or gatherings of any sort is this:

Incorporate only one or two things into your real life.

Seriously.  Just one or two.  We hear so many great ideas and become passionate about applying each and every one to our lives–writing or otherwise.  But it is too much.  We simply cannot maintain a healthy relationship with our pre-conference/gathering/convention lives and our post ones if we try to do it all.

How do you stay energized after attending mass events?  What tips can you provide that will help us balance our pre and post lives and still come out better for the experience?

Have you ever returned home from a mass event only to find yourself more dejected or unsure than when you left?  If so, why and how did you overcome it?

Inquiring minds want to know.

The Best Writing Tips Ever

“…I thought of the lesson, only lesson I learned and remembered from two years of a creative writing class…”

This quote from one of my commenters got me thinking about the resources we tap into on our writing journey and the lessons we take away from them.  For instance, each book I read leaves me with one memorable lesson, while each class I’ve taken teaches a new concept or solidifies an old adage.  

I have more writing books than a duck has feathers.  I have listened to speakers at writer’s conferences who impart great advice.  Some of it works for me and some is just out of my reach. 

Probably the most common advice I have heard is to “Write every day.”

I would love to, but it just isn’t realistic for me at this point in my life.  I have kids who need a taxi driver mom and a dog who demands my affections.  I love spending weekends with my DH and nights get crowded with bedtimes–mine included.  Every day does not work for me.

“Write what you know.” 

What if I don’t really know enough about anything, but I know a lot about everything?  To me, this advice is pretty vague.  I write for kids.  Do I know them?  Sure, I was one–30 years ago.  Things have changed.  I love gardening, but in my own willy-nilly way.  Not the Garden Guru kind of way.

As writers, we read blogs and books, attend conferences and cozy up in the comfort of writing communities and critique partners–all in the hopes of honing our craft and getting our byline out there. 

So, my question becomes: what have you learned?  What is the single most valuable lesson you have taken away from a mentor, teacher or kindly rejection letter?  What words do you live by to be the best writer you can be?

My all time favorite words of writing wisdom come down to this: Create characters readers can care about.  If they don’t care, they won’t read.  I live by this lesson.  It drives my novels. 

As people comment, Iwill add them to our list for easy reference.  Don’t forget to read the comments, as each tip has a little more info than is posted here.

The Best Writing Tips (Ever)

  1. Leave out the bits that readers might skip.
  2. Create characters readers can care about.  If they don’t care, they won’t read.
  3. Two words changed my life: “Precise and spare”.
  4. Finish something, even if it’s terrible, get to “The End”.
  5. Edit, edit, edit and then edit some more.
  6. “Cut the crap” was one thing a prof used to always say. It made me smile, and works.
  7. Don’t just kill your darlings; kill your gerunds. Die, “ing” clauses, die.
  8. Mind your misplaced modifiers.
  9. Know your characters.  Interview them.
  10. Type, don’t think. Thinking comes later after you get it on the page.
  11. Open your brain–to learn about writing and to let your characters in.
  12. Write, get it down on the page. You can edit crap. You can’t edit a blank page.
  13. Be true to your vision as a writer.
  14. Of criticism, know what to take and what to leave behind.
  15. Do what works for you and your story.  It frees me to use any words I want in any way I want whenever I want.
  16. Don’t compare. My writing journey is mine, not yours.  I enjoy my journey and celebrate with others along theirs.
  17. “Find out what your hero or heroine wants, and when he or she wakes up in the morning, just follow him or her all day.” Ray Bradbury