RMC-SCBWI Conference Report (or, at least, the start)

Finally, I’m here to report on the RMC-SCBWI fall conference! Geez, it’s taken me more than a week…a sign of 1) the enthusiasm with which I returned, and 2) the enthusiasm of my family for having me home again! Forgive me a crazy week’s delay.

First thing to report: our Keynote speaker, author Bruce Hale, rocks. He gave an inspirational and encouraging opening talk: “Four letter words that get you through the rough spots”. His words–RISK, GOAL, PUSH, and LUCK–might not be the ones you expect, but he tied them together into a neat writer-rescue package. I’m afraid they’ll lose some of their impact without Bruce’s optimistic presence to relate the specifics, but here’s a quick overview:

  • RISK: Life rewards risk. When he tries something new, it shows up in his work. Start small, consider the worst-case scenario, check with your gut–and be willing to embrace the risks because they’ll transform you.
  • GOAL: Make goals. Make them specific. Reward yourself for achieving them.
  • PUSH: This is the one that spoke to me, perhaps because I’ve been getting bogged down in procrastination a bit lately. It’s a long race, he said. Until you push yourself, you never know how far or how fast your can go–in life or in writing.
  • LUCK: Maximize your opportunities. Listen to your hunches. Expect good luck. When you hit a patch of bad luck, turn it into good.
  • DARE: Take chances!

My primary take-homes from Bruce’s talk? Besides the general encouragement (and practical pointers from his other sessions,) I’ve set myself a new goal as I tackle a rewrite project that seems (occasionally) insurmountable: 5 pages of rewritten (new) text a day or one chapter of editing. So far, it’s working–I’ve tripled my forward progress. Which is good, because I have several folks now waiting to see this book as soon as I’m satisfied with it!

:) Cheryl

Would you like to receive a bit of Bruce Hale’s inspiration, information, and wit first-hand? You can sign up for his e-newsletter at http://www.brucetalks.com/.

Tricks for Side-Stepping the Inner Critic

The Inner Critic is the bane of every writer’s existence. In my case, she pops up occasionally to interrupt perfectly good writing flow with a host of doubts and complaints…constructing a real barrier to productivity. Like most writers, I have only a limited amount of time to spend at the page. The last thing I want to do is spend my writing time mired in self-doubt.

I’ve developed a few tricks that help me…not silence my inner critic, but fool her. When she steps in and stalls a scene, here are some strategies I’ve used to get moving again:

  1. Gather momentum: Sometimes, all I need to do is rewrite the previous paragraph or previous paragraph to move through a trouble spot. It’s like gaining momentum to get over a bump on my bicycle.
  2. Make lists: This is especially helpful when I’m trying to write a great, succint scene description. If the words won’t come, I’ll back up and start listing scene details: smells, sounds, feelings, tastes, sights, emotions evoked, first impressions, possible analogies. When I turn back to real writing, I have a pool of images from which to choose.
  3. Change tense: If I can’t write the “real” text, I can fool my inner critic by writing the scene as if I’m just prewriting. I write it in the present tense, telling what I plan to write rather than worrying about final form. It’s pretty easy to change that into prose.

A Note re. Front Street Press

For all you out there who love the Boyds Mills/Front Street duo, it sounds like Front Street is in the midst of a personnel upheaval. Publisher Stephen Roxburgh has left Boyds Mills Press and Boyds Mills’ North Carolina office is closing. Bummer. Hope Front Street sticks around–they’re a great line.

For the full article, visit: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6597124.html?nid=2788&

:) Cheryl

Pre-Conference Jitters

You know that conference I mentioned? I’m suffering from intermittent bouts of pre-conference nervousness. You know–alternating between “Wow, this is going to be such a great experience and I can’t wait to meet all these great people and I’m a great writer ready to go sell myself” and “Wow, how will an introvert like me survive two intense days of human interaction and is my writing really any good at all and will my critique be terrible?”

Luckily, I’m not all that jittery about my talk. It’s so well-prepared, my husband said HE could give it at this point. And even though I start every practice session nervous, I get so excited about the topic that I forget I’m nervous in my eagerness to share. I’m talking about online critique groups, a subject about which I’m passionate.

Maybe that’s the trick to survival: my passion for writing–for my stories–will carry me through any potential rough spots.

Meanwhile, I’ll share a great post about the care and feeding of introverts from Shrinking Violet promotions: http://shrinkingvioletpromotions.blogspot.com/2008/09/svps-greatest-hits-word-about-self-care.html. It made me laugh–and gave me a few ideas about how to recharge my introverted batteries this weekend.

I’ll be back next week with the full report!

:) Cheryl