Midwest Writers Workshop 2017: Top 10 Things I Learned This Year

notes-macbook-study-conference.jpgMidwest Writers Workshop 2017 has come to an end all too soon but it was a very successful [and sold out] workshop. Faculty and writers come from all over the country to attend annually.

Three days of learning, networking, and eating. During downtime, the air is abuzz with laughter, pitch practices, advice, book signings, photo-taking, and excited writers talking about the new contacts they’ve made and the reviews they’ve received.

MWW has such amazing faculty each year that it’s difficult to pick which classes to attend. This year I left with a new mentor, a publisher who’s interested in my manuscript, and made a few new writer friends to boot! I always learn so much but here is a list of my top 10!

  1. Enter the scene as late as you can and get out as soon as you can. –Matthew Clemens
  2. Titles: It’s part of your sales pitch. Keep it short, three words or less. Keep it honest to content. Make it memorable. -Holly Miller
  3. Evernote: A digital media tool. It organizes your projects, lists, notes, and syncs across all your devices. It has a chat/meeting feature as well. –Jane Friedman
  4. Find your weakness in your writing and focus on it until it’s your strength. –Jessica Strawser
  5. Turn off your spell check and grammar check in your first draft so you’re not distracted by those colored lines that make you want to edit. –Mike Mullin
  6. Research: time yourself. Set a timer for 15 minutes so you get in and get out without being sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet! –Matthew Clemens
  7. Every chapter should have a title. -Holly Miller
  8. Before bed, you should work on or think about your next scene. Your subconscious will keep working on it while you sleep. –Mike Mullin
  9. Publishers are looking for books with shelf life, movie potential, and series potential. They are looking for writers with platforms. -Holly Miller
  10. Career vs Hobby. If you’re not writing every day, it’s a hobby. You have to decide what writing means to you. You must be able to produce a book a year. –Matthew Clemens

New Blog!

MWW book and tagYay! I have found myself with a fresh website and blog! Just spent a few days last week at the Midwest Writers Workshop. My second time and it was just as fabulous as last year. If you live in or near Indiana, you need to think about attending this workshop. This year they offered about 45 courses. There’s something for everyone. I am now a charter member and plan to return every year. Amazing talent there and glad to be associated with it.

The Paramour– well, many have asked how the book is coming along. It’s coming, as they say. (Insert sigh here!) A lot harder to write than you would think, especially a historical one, AND an anti-hero, compounded by my OCD and inner editor nagging at me ALL the time! I did hear a valuable phrase recently and even pasted it on my laptop keyboard: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” (Terry Pratchett) It’s true and I’m trying to get that into my head, that if I can just finish this first draft and quit overthinking and trying to perfect it along the way, it will become a novel! LOL The plot itself is coming along nicely with some unexpected revelations!

I’ve been working for Inquisitr this year and recently quit after writing about 70 articles. News reporting just doesn’t jive with me and my imaginary friends. It took up too much of my precious free time. Summer is just the time to be outside in the garden, not slaving over news articles and the added pressure of deadlines. UGH! However, I have nothing but nice thoughts of the staff at IQ though. Top notch! 🙂

Now, what I’ve been looking at today…

I’ve got some holes in my plot and I found a couple of authors who have good ideas. Lara Willard has nicely mapped out the plot and has a worksheet to boot! Get the plot outline and worksheet from her site!8c-worksheet

Another handy tool that I found on Pinterest. I’m not sure who created it. It’s been used on many sites so I apologize for not giving it credit here. plot worksheet

Both are good and the visuals help to see what should be happening in your story. For me, it’s helping me to find my holes! I’m always working against the grain though, my fondness of antiheroes who dance to a different tune, can make for complicated plot. Ok, off to write some more!