Thursday, March 27, 2008

Online Writing Workshops

Okay, if the thought of spending all that time, energy and money to go to a workshop or conference makes you make a face like my dog, there is an alternative. Online workshops. There's even an online conference: The Muse Online Writers Conference.

So, here are my favorites, with a little about each:

Margie Lawson gives a series of excellent online workshops. For example, Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors teaches the writer how to be more effective, focused and creative.

Coffin of Felony and Intrigue 2008 is the Romance Writers of America's Mystery and Suspense Kiss of Death Chapter's online workshop page. You don't have to be a member of Writers of America to take these superb classes--many of which are more about writing craft than the specifics of mystery and suspense.

And Writer U provides a variety of classes on a wide range of subjects.

All these online classes are inexpensive. No travel. And you can turn in your assignment at 2 a.m. while in your pajamas!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter to all the Creative Folks

Happy Easter

Happy greetings to all the creative folks out there. The bowl is a gift as are the eggs. Easter is a day of gratitude as well.

May yours be a great day.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

How to get the most out of a writing workshop or conference.

Now you've picked a workshop or a conference to attend. What next? How to have a successful experience?

A few tips:

1. Go prepared. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But remember to focus on why you decided to attend this particular event. Focus on what will bring you the most bang for your time and energy. For example, meeting agents? Be sure to have an elevator line, a pitch and business cards. Be ready.
2. Have reasonable expectations. Another simple one, that isn't quite that simple. We all dream of an agent at a conference reading our first pages and saying: "This is the best work ever produced! I'll sell it at auction for at least 10 million!" Probably not going to happen. It's fine to have hopes and dreams, but expect to learn and enjoy only.
3. Healthy behaviors--this is not a vacation. This is business. Healthy behaviors before and during insure a good experience. Eat right, try to get enough sleep, don't drink too much at the bar when you're networking.

Any questions? Want to share an experience?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Writing workshops & conferences--which one?

My fellow blogger and good friend Kathy of Well Placed Words mentioned in her last entry about using what she had learned at Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel workshop. Hers is an excellent example of what you can gain from attending workshops and conferences.

Given that it is possible to attend more than one workshop or conference on any given weekend and that the majority of us do not have the money, time or energy to attend year round (and when would you write?) which one to pick?

A few tips:
1. What would you want to get out of anything you attended? Be as specific as possible. Do you want to meet other authors? Agents? Editors? A community? Or are you searching for new tools to improve your writing? If so, in general or one particular problem, or if you are a genre writer, writing for your genre? Or both?
2. When you've narrowed down what you want, now is the time for research. Finding workshops or conferences is easy. Find ones that suit your specific needs then research those. Visit the web pages, the blogs and the MySpace that many of these events have. Talk to other writers about their experiences with a particular conference or workshop. If a workshop has "texts" that go along with it (Donald Maass has Writing the Breakout Novel for example) read those and see how you respond. Google the conference and read the comments (with a grain of salt, of course).
3. And finally, RELAX. The quality of workshops and conferences, perhaps because of the intense competition, is extremely high. Although I haven't attended tons of these, without fail, every one I've attended has been excellent, useful and fun.

So, what has your experience been? Or have you taken the plunge into the vast writing support pool? If not, what would you like to do? Where would you like to go? And why?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Writing workshops and conferences

It's that time of year--no, not for Christmas shopping, but for workshop shopping. The new line of workshops are out, and my, are they lovely fashions.

Okay, enough. The next couple of posts are going to be about workshops.

First: Should you attend a workshop? Any workshop requires 3 things: Time, effort (focus, work) and money--things that are in short supply for most writers. So when to go to a workshop?

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Have you been reading a lot? Of everything? Of books on writing?
2. Have you been writing? A lot?
3. Have you been feeling stuck at a certain level in your writing? Or yearning for some more tools to increase your abilities? Or wanting to try something completely different in writing?

If you answered yes to most of the questions above, you might get a lot out of a workshop. If you have just started writing, or haven't been writing for a while, then it's better to wait. Workshops help with the creative process and it's best to be in the midst of writing.

Readers, other questions that should be asked before spending time, energy and money on a workshop? Experiences with attending a workshop--that were good or bad?

Next up, how to find a good workshop.