Heed the warning of our beloved Mother Shonda! When I read YEAR OF YES, she mentioned this concept of ‘laying some track’. I took this to mean getting some ideas down. Getting some things off your head and seeing where they lead you.
Sometimes, this is the scariest thing.
What idea do you need to see on paper? On screen? That you dream of even!
This is your reminder to lay your track–and see where it leads. Your imagination might just surprise you.
In Part 1, we talked about establishing a treasure chest, and what all goes into that. Now, we will discuss why those things are important–why that work was necessary! The work is necessary for organizing your thoughts, and keeping you on track for the project you desire. You have the space and time to do all you want–if you make space for it! The forethought and planning allows you to make space in your imagination for what you want–think of it as prepaying rent. In ‘prepaying’ it, you have decided to make the project you are working on not only a priority, but tangible! It is easier to write something that you have seen, than something that is still nebulous in your mind. All the research, images, and freewriting (even music!) helps to give shape to what was only an idea! But this is the purpose by which treasure chests are made–they are investments! They are a safe way to protect your jewels: your ideas. I am a believer that what you believe in, you will pay attention to and invest in. Open your treasure chests, dear ones. Fear not–you put time and effort into it. Since you did the work, reap the rewards of it–one word at a time.
When I was a girl, I was fascinated by treasure chests. I was fascinated by how ornate they were, and what might be inside of them. Writers have treasure chests too! And the best part is we can create them, as well as fill them! So, the question remains this: How does a writer create a treasure chest? This goes to the idea I spoke about on the podcast: a draft-drawer. A draft drawer if you remember is a digital file/physical file you keep all your writing in. However, in creating a treasure chest, you single out one piece of your writing that you are drawn to, but perhaps have not had time truly get back to. Your treasure chest allows you to build up and around this particular work. This could be pictures, sketches, even books with baby names! But the treasure chest is for your project, giving it space to grow and be there when you get to it! Every time that you add to it, you are making the decision as to the importance of this project–you are taking your story seriously. Meaning, you are taking your talent seriously. A treasure chest holds more than glittering items–they hold your future. Plan accordingly!
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!
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.