Spring Writes! Literary Festival: What I Learned this Weekend

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a literary festival in the new town that we live in! What is a literary festival you ask?

From Thursday to Sunday, writers, readers or literary-lovers of all sorts were able to attend workshops, panels and readings from a collaboration of local writers. These writers are all supported by donations, and a $5 dollar entry fee which purchased the cute pin featured above and was my pass to all the events this weekend.

On Saturday I attended: Workshop: Research Secrets, How to Write What You Don’t Know by and Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, Targeted Writing and Publishing.

What I learned from the Workshop: Research Secrets, is that there is never just one source of finding information out there – the internet is a great tool to finding what you need, but also don’t forget the value of your local library and historic museums, if applicable.

Don’t rule out YouTube and Google Maps as excellent how-to resources when it comes to story research and world-building. Also, remember to validate the credibility of your online sources! (Not everything you read or hear on the internet is true.)

And the instructor also pointed out the value of a good interview. Sometimes the best place to get information is from the person who wrote the book in the first place. Remember to be courteous, prepare your questions and always follow-up.

At the Workshop: The Short Fiction Market, the instructor emphasized that getting your work published is more of a science rather than an art and he pointed out some great strategies that writers can use to get your work out there.

Don’t forget the benefit of submitting stories to Contests. Contests have lower pool of submissions, are judged blindly and carry a lot of weight in a future cover letter if you can brag later on down the road and be like: I am also the first prize winner to XYZ magazine…

He says that contests which feature a specific theme also have a lower pool of submissions, and always remember to ask for feedback when you are submitting something. Most editors will probably not offer feedback, but sometimes someone will.

Focus on the number of submissions that you have out there…it is better to have so many balls in the air that after one rejection, it might not sting as much because you have all those other submissions to look forward to!

The more book reviews you write, the more submissions you submit and the more you get out there and talk to other writers, the more you are building up your social network and other opportunities might present themselves.

Today I attended: Panel: “World Building: If you Build It, They Will Come” and Panel: “Intimate Communities, Starting and Sustaining a Writing Group That Works”

In the world building panel, a group of women spoke about their different processes of world building and their favorite part of the process. Each of their approaches to world building was different.

Some of them approached a world as having a central conflict. What makes parts of the world clash? While answering these questions you get an idea of the different cultures, and the holidays and the food that the characters might eat.

A few of the women started with a character first, and then they built the world around the characters.

They talked about the differences of world building for short stories, versus a novel, and how for some stories you don’t have to know everything, because you will also discover a lot of the world in the writing process.

To organize their notes, one of the women uses the software Evernote, which is what I use! And then another, keeps a notebook with character details.

The best part of world building according to the panel of ladies, is living in another time period, and the power trip: you are basically God.

In the panel, for Sustaining a Writer Group, I learned about the importance of knowing what you want personally from a writer’s group, and remembering to have Guidelines in your group.

Establish those Guidelines from the get-go and you’ll need someone to be the leader, to enforce those guidelines and to keep everyone on task.

I learned so much this weekend, and have some great reference points for finding a writing group in our area that might suit what I am looking for; I am so excited to move on to the next step of the process!

Hope everyone had a great weekend, and Happy Writing!

Part 1 Confessions: Struggling with Writer’s Fear

Something that I’ve been avoiding writing about for awhile now…

And that is about Fear…or, most importantly, about MY FEAR.

A writer’s fear. Yikes. A crippling phobia that leads to self doubt, blank pages and writer’s block. I am so worried about whether or not my writing will be good or not, and I don’t get anything written.

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If you all remember, back in August, I purchased Writer’s Market 2014 with much excitement and enthusiasm, all with the intention of moving myself forward on the path of freelancing and writing as a way to make a living.

I thumped the gigantic book on my desk and then stared at it apprehensively for a few minutes. (No lie.) With a deep breath, I managed to page through the first few pages, and then I pushed it aside, opened up Pandora and started listening to something soothing. Query letters? Submissions? Deadlines? Limits?

Words that didn’t seem intimidating before were suddenly hitting me in the face. Where was my inhaler again? Where was this all coming from?

So, I thought. And I thought some more.

All these questions buzzed through my head: How do I make the submission process, editing and proof-reading work for me? What are my goals? Do I have any? What will bring me satisfaction? What do I want to write and where do I want to send it to?

Wait a minute, self. Slooww down.

I need to keep constantly reminding myself: everyone has their own way of dealing with something. As writers, we should remember that each of us has our own style and that can be applied in all that we do. No one is the same, embrace it!

Also the most important thing right now: Write, Write, Write!  (<<<Something that I will keep reminding myself no matter what! How am I to succeed if I don’t try?)

In the next few days, I will be doing some of my own research to help counteract this weight on my shoulders, and on my chest. I will succeed as a writer. I just have to have the courage to face my own fears!

No April Fool’s jokes for me today, too much to do! Stay tuned for Part 2: My ways to Counteract Writer’s Fear!