Enjoying the Journey: My first writer’s conference.

Well lovely writers, I did it, I confronted my fear of the professional literary world this weekend.

Just to clarify, I don’t exactly fear the lit world; it’s more so I find it a bit intimidating. I love following industry professionals and other authors on Twitter, but being connected via web versus talking to actual people in person are two different things.

So on Saturday, I attended the Chesapeake Writers Workshop in DC. The majority of the day was spent absorbing a TON of information about the industry from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. From self-publishing versus traditional publishing to building your own platform, Chuck covered a LOT of topics and provided an incredible amount of insight. If you have an opportunity to attend one of his many speaking events, do so. It’s more than worth it.

He’s posted a list of his upcoming events on his website, here. Also, if you haven’t checked out his blog, Guide to Literary Agents, on Writer’s Digest, do so here.

Along with the fantastic lectures, I had the opportunity to formally pitch two agents. Both Ella Kennen of Corvisiero and Jamie Bodnar Drowley of Inklings were so sweet and knowledgeable and really made my first pitching experience so enjoyable [though I’m pretty sure I was a rambling mess!]. Leon Husock of L. Perkins was also kind enough to hear my bumbling pitch after the workshop ended, which I am EXTREMELY grateful for, especially because I’m pretty sure he was done for the day and just wanted information on getting a cab. Sigh.

Attendees of the workshop also had the opportunity to have their WIP’s first page read by the agents in a panel setting. The agents, including Mr. Husock, gave their feedback on what would cause them to stop reading the sample. Though my own first page was not read (there was a limited amount of time for the panel and there were a LOT of writers in attendance), the agents’ input was incredibly helpful. Many first pages had similar issues, so I will be sure to try and avoid those pitfalls in the future.

In conclusion, my recommendation is to do your best to attend these conferences and workshops. Even if you bomb your pitches, discussing your project with an industry professional is an invaluable opportunity. It can let you know if you’re heading in the right direction or if you need to re-evaluate and adjust.

As I said in a previous post, be gracious and kind. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but you and your WIP will be better for it. So even if you hear something you don’t want to hear [like the importance of building your platform], don’t argue, just accept the advice and make a decision later.

And most importantly, just keep writing!

5 Steps to Becoming More Productive

We’ve all had those moments where we shout at our deadlines, “if only I had more time!” Lord knows I’ve prayed for 28-hour days more than once. Unfortunately we mere mortals only get a measly 24 hours to accomplish everything on our [if you’re like me, then an extremely long] to-do list.

IMPORTANT NOTE: After my eighth formal submission for the 4-hour daily extension, I got an email reply from the universe saying that due to the rotation of the earth and the delicate cosmic balance that makes our planet inhabitable, my request was indefinitely denied. Sorry, folks.

So how do we juggle all our responsibilities and still find time for our creative endeavors?

1. Get a planner.

Seriously, whether it’s on your phone, tablet, computer or you wanna rock a tradition print copy, a planner is an invaluable resource to keeping your responsibilities and projects organized.

If you’re in the market for a great print planner, take a look at “Passion Planner.” Along with monthly calendars and weekly breakdowns, Passion Planner was designed to keep you motivated [and organized], so you can achieve your goals. You can find more information about Passion Planner at www.passionplanner.com.

2. Make a list of what’s important.

I know this seems ridiculous, but sometimes it helps to see what’s important to you in an itemized list. When you’re allocating time for everything in your week, it’s a lot easier to look at that list and start carving out appropriate time for each item. For me personally, my dog and my writing come before social engagements. It’s not the most popular choice I make, but if I haven’t met a writing deadline, I’m not getting to drink that brewsky on Saturday night. Thems be the rules.

3. Make REALISTIC goals for yourself.

Here’s where it starts to get tricky. All of us want to complete that novel in 30 days, but let’s face it, if you work 40 hours a week, have kids [including the furry kind], and have [some other required miscellaneous engagement], odds are you’re not going to have the hours to punch out 80k+ words.

So set little goals. Instead of having the mantra “I’m going to finish this month,” change it to “I’m going to write 1000 words a day.” Believe me, simply changing the verbiage in your goals can turn something overwhelmingly dreadful into continuously motivating.

4. Cut out what doesn’t need to be there.

Trust me, I’m just as addicted to TV as the next person, BUT finding out who GoT killed off can wait until after the current chapter is written.

5. Remember that LIFE HAPPENS!

Though deadlines are important, please remember that life happens. There are going to be days where your 9-5 demands some overtime or your friends need a favor. Your goals are important, but so is your sanity. So strive for success, but don’t stress if it takes a little longer to get there.

Happy writing, everybody!