It was the first writing symposium/conference that I have ever been to. I am grateful that I remembered to bring my writing notebook and pen because there is no way that I would have remembered all of the wonderful things from the conference otherwise. There was just so much information! All in all, I went to 12 lectures. I will try to summarize some of the things that I learned below.
I actually had a HUGE paradigm shift during the conference about the world of publishing. I will admit that before the conference, I sort of rolled my eyes and looked down my nose at self-publishing. Someone who self-publishes clearly was inferior to those who were published through a traditional publishing house. In my mind, the self-publisher was someone who had written a mediocre book and then had a bunch of copies printed which are now collecting dust in their garage. To learn otherwise was a complete revelation! I have since repented for my narrow-minded snootiness.
A few of the panels discussed self-publishing and then a few other panels just happened to have some self-published authors presenting. I learned a lot of tips on how self-publishing can be very successful. Now, I am not saying that those mediocre-sit-in-the-garage-and-collect-dust book publishers aren't out there. I am sure there are quite a few. But there are also a lot of successful authors who make enough money to support a home and family. Pretty amazing! I'm not saying that I will definitely go the rout of self-publishing, but it has opened my mind to the idea. I plan on writing a post in the near future specifically discussing more about this topic. Watch for it!
I also attended a few panels about writing good horror. They focused a lot on writing effective horror without being gratuitous or gory and disgusting without a purpose. They also commented on how the horror genre can be very cathartic and actually be the most redeeming genre because there is such contrast between good and evil. I liked that idea a lot.
Another valuable panel I attended was one that talked about making time for creativity with Sandra Taylor. This woman seems like Super Woman with all she is able to fit into her life. But she gave us 10 steps that made it seem possible to fit in some writing time:
- Identify your support group
- Have a physical space for your creative endeavor
- Understand your bio rhythms (when during the day is best for you to write)
- When setting up a schedule, build supports into it (ie what will trigger me to know its time to write)
- Master the small stretch--willpower is a limited resource--don't try to bite off more than you can chew
- Learn to work in fragments--especially true if you have young children
- Ponder the tortoise and the hare
- Health and spoon theory (at the beginning of the day, we're only given a certain amount of spoons [energy]--some people get 20, while others only get 2 [maybe because of health issues]--work with what you have)
- Get outside your box
- Your system will break--its not because the system sucks, but because life changes so we have to adjust our system
Number 5 is the most important for me right now. I like to tell myself crazy things: "OK self, on Monday, we're getting up at 5:30am, writing for an hour, then exercising for 45 minutes, showering and eating breakfast all before 8am!" Yeah, today I rolled out of bed at 9am when my daughter woke up. How likely will it be for me to magically start getting up at 5:30am, let alone get the other stuff done? HA! Learning to implement small changes until you have your creative system tweaked is valuable info.
Alright, well, this post ended up being longer than I had expected. I could keep going on all the great stuff I learned, but these were the most impactful things. Keep on the lookout for a post about self-publishing in the near future!