Showing posts from January, 2017

Picking a Writing Conference: 4 Questions to Ask

I attended my first writing conference ten years ago. Prior to that, I participated in a few college-based creative writing classes but wanted more without the hefty academic fees. Conferences Open Doors I met several authors at that first conference, and those introductions developed into relationships with people who are now some of my favorite authors. If for no other reason than getting to know authors on a personal basis, you should attend a writing conference. But that's not all I gained. I learned a lot about the craft of writing as well as the world of agents and editors. One of the authors I met offered to help me stay on track to finish my novel. She did and I completed it with her occasional encouragement. What Should You Look For In a Conference? I've attended several conferences since that first one, some great, some ok. I've never attended one that didn't develop my skills and writing relationships in some way. Some questions you might want to co

5 Tips For Finding Skilled Writing Critique Partners

Barbara teaching a writing workshop. Critiquing someone's writing is hard. Last night, a visitor attended our writing critique group for the first time. After the meeting, I asked her what she thought. She said she enjoyed it and would like to visit a few more times, then she added, "It was hard." Why Is Critiquing Hard? There are many guidelines and techniques in writing, and if you don't know them, your critique may be worthless. I assured this visitor that the first few times I attended the group, the feedback process overwhelmed me. With time, I learned a lot and my writing and feedback to other writers improved. Who Shouldn't Critique Your Work? It takes time and effort to learn how to critique someone's work. This is why you don't choose your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, cousin, sister, or best friend as a beta reader, unless, of course, the person participates in the writing community and understands the critique process. But don

How Do Writers Find Time To Write?

One of the main things a writer needs to know is not based on knowledge, it's based on action. What action? How to fit writing into your schedule. No big deal, some of you are saying, but a lot of writers know what I'm talking about. Finding time to write is not easy especially when it's not your primary form of employment or you have others dependent on you. Over the past ten years, I managed to fit writing into my schedule until last year. What happened last year? My empty nest filled back up with two young children, my grandchildren. Between the obligations of school, medical needs, legal issues, homework, and the desperate need to increase our income, writing took a back seat...over and over again. I tried making to-do lists, but the needs of a nine and five year old took precedence. My sanity took precedence. The continual battle of setting up custody and lining up insurance and dealing with social workers and teachers and making sure everyone had cl

4 Tips For New Writers

Members of our chapter at an open-mic It happens every January. My inbox fills up with inquiries about our local writing chapter of SCWA ( South Carolina Writers' Association ). I've been the leader of the Greenville chapter for several years, so the sudden spurt of interest is nothing new. People start the new year with many resolutions, one of which is: "I'm going to write a book." After a month or two, the ones who really mean it are still around while the others disappear back into their lives of "someday I want to write a book." What do I have to say to these would-be writers?   Writing a book takes time and dedication. I don't know how many people have told me: "I have an idea for a book and one day I'm going to write it." They say it like writing a book doesn't take hard work and skill. They are wrong. To make this offhand statement to someone who is actually writing is like saying to a surgeon, "Someday, I

Kurt Vonnegut Wisdom: My New Year's Gift to Writers

As the days of 2017 span out before us, I wanted to share a short clip from Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories. It is instructive and humorous. In fact, many of you may have seen this clip before. It's not like it's unknown. The video is worth watching, even if it's not your first time. So, this is my gift to you as we begin to focus on our writing plans for the new year. Kurt Vonnegut, The Shape of Stories