Friday, August 4, 2017

Using What You Have Learned From A Conference

Conferences are fantastic for energizing a writer and really getting the creative juices flowing. You come back after sitting through a ton of workshops and now have a lot to consider. But now what?

Unfortunately, I see too many authors making huge mistakes with this information. These mistakes go in two different directions.

The first mistake is to attempt to use all of the new learning in the current work in progress. One presenter said using Strategy A will sell the book, another said Strategy B, another said Strategy C, and the critique group provided 5 other options. Now the author attempts to put all 8 of those ideas into the story. What they are doing is essentially saying it is time to make chili, opening up the pantry and dumping a little of all their spices from the rack into the meal. How did that work out? Probably not too good.

It is important to look at what you have, study what works best for that situation, and use the strategy conservatively. Go slowly. You probably are not fully clear how those strategies work yet and it could make things worse.

The second mistake is believing that you are already good to go. In other words, you learned all of this stuff, but when you get back to your writing, you convince yourself that your writing is fine without that strategy. This too is not going to work.

I am tutoring two high school students this summer to improve their writing. We work in a small 1 hour session and then give them a small project to work on for the next session. I have now met with them 3 times and in each case, they just didn't do the work. When they left the session, the they saw the value in the skills, but simply did not follow through.

So how do you think their writing is improving? I do think there will be some of the learning that sticks in their head, but the odds are, without the practicing of the skill on their own, they are no further ahead.

Look, you just came home energized to work. You have all of these new tools. Now take the time to study those tools and use those tools with your writing.

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