Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blog #6 The Blog that Ate My Brain

I must admit, all this daily blog writing, posting, and commenting feels like it’s occupying all my waking moments. I keep thinking “I could blog that”. “I should tweet that.”  What I’m supposed to be doing is writing a book!!  And getting ready for a writing workshop.  The countdown is on, just 7 days left until we leave the stinking desert and head for the chilly, foggy Oregon coast. 

Having been at this writing gig for a while now, I’ve attended a fair number of workshops geared toward writing for children and teens.  I’m a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators which has always been a top notch organization, much better than some other groups who shall remain nameless.  I’ve attended several of their conferences in my region, but have yet to attend either of their national conferences yet.  Some day…

But anyway, there are benefits to attending workshops, as well as some draw backs, so if you’ve ever wondered about it, read on-

Top 3 Benefits – encouragement, exposure, and education

Just being in the presence of a like-minded group of folks can really encourage you, remind you that you aren’t the only crazy one out there, pecking away at your keyboard in the lonely wilderness.  You can make great friends at workshops. You can also gain valuable exposure to agents and editors you might otherwise never cross paths with. The insight you can gain from meeting these folks face to face is invaluable, especially if you are lucky enough to have them critique your work or hear a pitch.  It’s scary, but it’s worth it.
Get your feet wet~

Top 3 Drawbacks- discouragement, expense, and misinformation

That said workshops can sometimes be discouraging too. Sometimes you just aren’t writing the kinds of stuff everyone else is or the stuff the agent is telling you is “hot” and you start thinking “what am I doing wrong?” That’s when you have to remember that you have to be true to yourself above all else.  It really doesn’t matter what the fad de jour is. If you aren’t writing what you love, it will show.  Workshops can be expensive, but so can other hobbies and personal pursuits.  I look at workshops as an investment in my writing career. It will pay off in the long run if I listen and learn all I can. And lastly, my biggest peeve about workshops is misinformation. 

There are lots of agents/editors that will stand up in front of writers and tell them how to write.  Many writers are thirsting to be told, hungry for the magical pill that will make them desirable to agents and editors, and that’s fine.  I just get annoyed when someone tells me for the umpteenth time “Don’t start your book with a character waking up in the morning” and then pulls out the Hunger Games as an example of a great first page.  What is it? Katniss, waking up in the morning!!  Writers, please, please, remember, agents and editors are just people with their own likes and dislikes. It doesn’t mean you have to do everything they say.  In fact, you could easily make yourself crazy trying.  Write what you love and other people will love it too.

Cross that bridge when you reach it~
Have you been thinking of attending a new class or conference of some kind?  What's your experience been?


  1. First off, I'd like to say that I'm jealous you will be heading to Oregon Coast. Take the time to enjoy the beaches in between workshops. It's my favorite place on earth.

    I'd have to agree with your benefits and drawbacks list. They are pretty aligned with the professional conferences I attend. The best part of conferences for me is the networking and learning about what other people are doing in the field.

    However, when looking at everything, there are far more benefits than drawbacks. It seems you have waded through the misinformation from your previous conference experiences, and ended up on the positive side of just believing in what you love to do. Like you said, if you are not passionate about what you write or how you are writing it, it will show.

    It's not as if, as a reader, you can pick out specific places within the first few chapters where you can say, "oh, they hate what they are writing." However, you can definitely get that sense. There have been plenty of books that I have put down after the first couple of chapters and never finished - disappointed in what I thought was a lack of "passion" - no matter the subject.

    Have a fabulous time in Oregon, at the conference, and if you get a chance, pick up some salt water taffy for me. :) :)

  2. I will Marissa! I know a great candy shop in Cannon Beach :)

  3. Have a wonderful conference! I do my best thinking with other people - all together in the same room. I wish you much curiosity and learning.

  4. I will :) Thank you so much for commenting.