Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday's Children - Writers' Workshops

This past weekend, my local writing group had a writing conference. It was full of the things all awesome conferences share, chances to pitch your book, Q&A with industry professionals and workshops - 12 brilliant hands on workshops.

Since I was one of the conference coordinators (as well as the person who found the speakers and put together the schedule) I was able to choose the workshops I wanted to moderate (a coordinator's job is never done). We had a whole morning and afternoon of fabulous speakers, and the four that I moderated were nothing short of brilliant.

There was a hilarious and also incredibly informative presentation on Time Management for People with No Time. Jen provided all kinds of useful tips and tricks to get more writing into to your day - even if you have a million and twelve other things to do.

I also enjoyed the workshop on plotting using Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey given by Brynn Paulin. Using popular movies, she broke The Hero's Journey down in a slightly different way than I've seen before that effectively explained the concept and made it easy to work with using our own plots.

Lara Zielin gave a fantastic interactive lecture on The First Five Pages and how to make them unforgettable (in a good way) I wish there had been more time to go through the opening pages that the attending writers brought. But the ones we did get through were helpful no only to the authors, but the rest of us as well.

Margaret Yang's talk on Plotting for Pantzers was exactly what I needed. I'll admit, I'm not a plotter - more like a wanderer following a trail of breadcrumbs. I tend to stop along the way and pick up rocks and pretty leaves - sometimes they're useful for the story I'm telling, sometimes they're not. Because of my wandering, I tend toward side trips in my writing that need to be heavily edited. Thanks to Margaret's workshop, I had several "light bulb moments". I feel like my side trips are going to be far less problematic.

Now I'm not saying that I've suddenly turned into someone who plots my book chapter by chapter, but I think I'm definitely becoming a wanderer with a purpose. And a path. I couldn't be more grateful to Margaret for her workshop.

For those of you who've never been to a writers conference, I highly recommend going. Sometimes the smallest thing can change your perspective and give you a whole new view of your story.

What about you - have you ever been to a writers workshop? If so, what workshop had the biggest impact on you?



10 comments:

  1. I think the biggest impact I got from attending a writers' conference was connecting with other writers--people who shared a passion with me.

    http://otherworlddiner.blogspot.com/2012/11/hitting-brick-wall-in-national-novel.html


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    1. You know...that *is* the best and most important thing I've ever gotten from a writers conference!

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  2. I haven't been to one (maybe when my children and dogs are less needy). They sure sound like fun though! I'm with you on the pretty leaves and rocks, lol.

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who picks up pretty leaves and rocks while writing. :)

      A well done writers conference is a great thing - as is hanging with like-minded writers!

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  3. I haven't been to a conference either! :( I live in Toronto, Canada... and although this is one of the largest cities in North America, strangely enough there aren't many Writer's conferences, haha.

    There are also Writer's Groups and informal Workshops, organized via Meetup, but I've found those to be a bit tough (everyone's got a busy life, and groups are only as good as the number of members who consistently attend.

    That said, I've found the online writing community, like this one, to be much more helpful. You aren't worried about things like a one-time event or the potential inconvenience of a weekly meeting. You can get feedback, send people stuff, give feedback, and find inspiration any time... even at 2am! It's great.

    Thanks for sharing this,

    John

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    1. Hey John,

      Thanks for stopping by. I love the online writing community, too. There are so many amazing people I've met all thanks to the internet.

      I'm really lucky because the group that I belong to that puts on the conference also has monthly meetings where we have a meal together, enjoy a presentation and hang with other people that just get us. But that said, I love the online community just as much. :)

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  4. I love conferences!!! I love basking in the writing atmosphere (I also love the pens and notepads that come in the totebags too). I always come away ready to do great things.

    I agree--Margaret's plotting workshop was both wonderful and just what I needed. I had a branding workshop a few years ago that was brilliant as well. Unfortunately, I haven't employed that one with the greatest success...yet.

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    1. Margaret's workshop keeps playing in my head. That's honestly one of the best workshops I've ever been to. There's something really motivating about being in the company of that many other motivated writers. :)

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  5. Great post, Chris. I went to a writer's conference while I was home in the States in September and it was super useful but definitely not for wimps! I got a couple fun CPs and Beta readers out of it and I think I've gotten better at sorting through other people's feedback and figuring out what feels right to me. Kristina x

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    1. Those conferences can be exhausting - but so worth it. And I think the best thing is figuring out what works for you and pitching the rest. I think it's awesome that you ended up meeting CPs and Betas during the process. Well done! :)

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