Good Morning! This the first day of the new year and this year will be the focus of writing your book. No matter how long you have waited to write it, to matter how scared you have been to start it! This is safe space to get encouragement to write the story you want–like you want! Consider this your friendly reminder that your book isn’t going to write itself–and you must write it.
Writing is journey and writing a book at joyous (and ambitious endeavor)! And for the year of 2020, we are going to walk through writing a book. For 12 months, I am going to make it practical, accessible to write a book. These 12 themes will go from the apprehension to start a book, constructing a draft and starting the task towards (gasp!) publishing! Here are the topics:
January 2021: The Apprehension
February: Starting The Process
March: Maintaining Focus
April: The Importance Of Research
May: Traditional Books Vs. Ebooks
June: The Power Of The Draft
July: The Power Of A Re-Write
August: What Does It Mean To Rewrite?
September: At Peace With The Final Draft
October: The Fear Of “Too Much”
November: The Smooth Out
December: Pushing To Publish
These topics will be done in the format you all are used to here–every Tuesday, buffeted by the Encouragement Pages you love! I even have a plan for June 2021 (Psst: WRITING CONTEST!)! I look forward to this, dear ones. And so should you. Let’s get it: let’s write these books. I already believe in you!
Writing retreats, if not taking seriously, are vacations! You are basically wasting people’s time otherwise! If you don’t write at home, in your dedicated writing space, what makes writing in place where you have to pay to be at will be any different? Let me tell you why you should think twice before you into a writing workshop:
Time. Writing is labor and time-intensive. It just is! If you can’t figure out how to write when you need to at home, why would you want to divert from your daily routine in order to write? These spaces are reserved for people whom want to write, and need the space to do so! Consider the value of your time, and everyone else’s before you attend.
2. Scheduling. Most writing retreats operate on and in certain time constraints. You have to be there at a certain time, to leave at a certain time, and while you’re there? The expectation is that you fully participate in your chosen or assigned workshop. If you aren’t there to learn or participate fully in your craft, why waste time and money?
3. Focus. One of the reason (even if it is the most basic) why you shouldn’t go on a writing retreat is it will require you to focus. It will require you be steadfast in the same resolve that got you there in the first place! You decided to invest in your talent by way of a retreat. One of those ways you pay it forward from that investment is focus. This 5-letter world will enable you to accomplish all you planned to do in this particular arena! Without it, nothing can be done! Be mindful that even though retreats can be restful (and should be!), you came there on and for a mission. Use your time wisely, and invest where you want to best reap maximum benefit.
If you desire to write, to be a writer, you are going to have to get comfortable writing! Whether alone, in groups, or if no one else will read it. Nothing can be read if you don’t write it first. If you won’t write at home, save you money, honey. A retreat is not what is needed–redirection is.
To date, I have spoken at length about what it means to attend a writing retreat. I understand, though, not everyone is able to attend on of these. I mean it is a pandemic on top of everything else! But, there is a high chance, dear Oracle, budding/indie writer that you can attend a workshop! And here are some reasons why you should:
1. Cost. Depending on the length of the workshop, topic and genre, it may be entirely more affordable and feasible to attend a workshop than a retreat. If you can spend $100 on an hour workshop than $300 on a retreat–where you may sleep rather than write!–spend less money.
2. Location. It’s the pandemic! Not a lot of people are traveling for these types of artistic ventures. But, there may be a writers’ workshop that you can be apart of that meets locally or virtually! There as a writer’s workshop that I used to attend that was hosted by my girl Amanda Wells that met once a month! In her space, she offered snacks, gave a space to write and a place to just decompress to write! And it was free! Look for these types of supportive places in your city. Social media is a great place to look (Facebook, especially!).
3. Learning and Networking. Sometimes writing can feel as if you are atop a mountain with no way to get to the village below. Workshops foster writing in community! Workshops encourage writers to bounce ideas off one another, gather support and even become aware of those that write the same genre as you do!
Don’t dismiss the opportunity to build out your writing network! You would will never know whom you might need, whom might need you and what opportunities may be garnered because you were at the right place at the right time.
I am both a fan and suspicious of writing retreats. I believe in the right context these types of investments are invaluable. As a writer, you must understand that is only one component of your hobby or career. The mechanics and development of your skills as a writer are totally dependent on your willingness to take them both seriously. This can be something as simple as learning a word a day to build your vocabulary, or following your favorite writing/writer-focused podcast (shameless plug for THE WRITERS’ BLOCK on Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify! Check for the red and black logo!). But, the cool think about retreats are they provide a way to build your writing community as well! These groups and collectives can be your secret weapons to keep you motivated to write! The best thing about workshops is how they can be so specific! There is a retreat or a workshop for any and every part of writing! For every genre, every struggle, every hang-up, and every resource! There is a retreat! Don’t discount the importance of your writing community! Being a writer does not make you omniscient to all things writing related–or impervious to criticism! The reason I am and can be suspicious of writing retreats is because they can be money grabs, and or totally unhelpful! If you spend your hard earned money on something that will help you, there is an expectation that you will get a desired outcome! There are some facilitators of these workshops or retreats whom have no idea how to facilitate them! Or prepared to answer any questions! Cardinal rule of searching out workshops and retreats is to do your research on the facilitator! Email them and ask questions! You are a writer as well as a consumer! Don’t be caught in a space where you have invested time, energy and money and come out worse for wear. Be careful, my oracles. Be wise. Be careful. Invest wisely in the development of your craft and career. The responsibility of the development of your craft is up to you.
Writing requires a completely different set of knowledge. Writers have the strangest walking around information! Yet, you need this type of knowledge. When writing fiction, you will need to be able to draw from this fountain of information formed and gathered through your own life travels and experiences. The strangest thing about being a writer is how you will incorporate all of those experiences–real or read–as they may manifest into flaw for your protag, a strategy for your villain, or a skill for your underdog!