Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's Next? Getting Organized After a Writers Conference

Edie Melson
Writers ADVANCE! Writers Boot Camp is now just a memory (hopefully a really GOOD memory) and the euphoria of being with other writers has dissipated. You may have noticed a correlation between the excitement waning and the doubts returning. It’s not uncommon to come away from a conference with enthusiasm, only to have it replaced with insecurity after a few days at home.
My suggestion—don’t let that insecurity dig in and take root—get organized and get busy. Here are a few things you can do to capitalize on the connections you made and the things you learned while in the mountains.
  • Make a list. Actually, make several. Start by writing down every one you talked with who asked you to submit something. Then list everything you learned that you want to immediately incorporate into your writing life. For example, if you’re a novelist you make have learned the difference between showing and telling and want to go back and incorporate it into your current manuscript. Finally, make a list of all the confirmations and positive things you heard during the week.
  • Set your priorities. Obviously you can’t do everything at once. I recommend you pick a couple of things to start on immediately. Pick one short thing and one longer. 
  • Commit to a due date. Even if you haven’t been given a date by someone else, set your own. Otherwise you’ll find the days become weeks, the weeks become months, and next year you’re right back where you started.
  • Find an accountability partner or group. For me, it’s easier if that person’s also a writer. Other writers seem to instinctively know when I need a kick in the pants or a shoulder to cry on. Here are a couple of ways to find one if you don’t already have one.
    • Look at the contacts you made at Blue Ridge and start sending emails. It doesn’t matter if the writers you connect with are near or far—with the Internet we’re all just a click away.
    • Look for a local writers group and visit. 
  • Come up with a schedule. Look at your lifestyle and carve out some regular time to write. It doesn’t have to be a normal time—but it does need to be consistent. When I first started out my kids were little, so my writing time was unconventional. I waited until my kids and my husband were asleep and then I wrote from about midnight until three or four in the morning. My husband would get the kids up and off to school and I would sleep in. Then I’d do my household stuff and be fresh when the kids got home from school. We’d have family/couple time in the evenings and then I’d be back to writing. Like I said, unconventional, but it worked for us. That’s the key—find what works for you.
Hopefully these tips will help keep your writing on track. If you’ve come up with other ways to get on track after the conference, leave a comment and share them with us!