Last night, WANA International‘s online writing conference hosted Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA for a free workshop offered as part of the run up to next weekend’s WANACon (February 21 and 22, 2014). Gabriela presented at last fall’s WANACon, and her popular sessions earned her a return invitation with two new workshops at WANACon 3.0 next weekend.
Her extra presentation last night was “Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference,” and if you missed this free and open-to-the-public workshop, check out the recording. Her advice applies to all types of conferences: writing or non-writing, online or offline. And you get to experience it all for free. *smile*
As a bonus, you also get to see how cool the recordings of all the WANACon sessions are. Attendees receive recording links for every session so they don’t miss a thing. (The presentation slides are available for download by attendees as well. A link to Gabriela’s slides is currently on the WANACon page.)
(Note: The blank area in the bottom right of the recording is where a webcam would display, but Gabriela didn’t use a webcam for this presentation. Also, recordings work best with Firefox, Chrome, or Opera. The Safari browser is incompatible with playback.)
Step One: Decide to Take the Risk
One tip Gabriela shared really struck me. She pointed out that in the game of golf, the lower the score the better. So one might think a “perfect” score would be zero. Nothing lower than that, right?
But of course the only way to have a score of zero in golf is not to play. As soon as we take that first swing, our score will be more than zero.
That’s the case with many aspects of writing. If we never take risks, we’ll have a “perfect” score of never losing, but that also means we’ve never put ourselves out there.
If we find a critique partner, we will get feedback about areas we need to improve. If we enter writing contests, we will have points marked off for something a judge thinks we did wrong. If we query, we will get rejections. If we publish, we will get bad reviews.
The only way to avoid those “less than perfect” experiences is to never play the game. Never share our work. Never stretch ourselves. Never take risks.
Great. We avoid those negative experiences. But we also never get the good experiences. No positive feedback, contest finals, requests, or good reviews.
The only way to have the positive experiences—to win—is to play the game. If we have the goal of “winning” at writing in some way, whether that means improving our craft, reaching readers, or building a profitable career, we have to take risks.
Writing Itself Is a Risk
In fact, anytime we take a step forward with our writing, we’re taking a risk. When we reach the point of wanting to develop more layered characters, or including more emotion, or learning to add subplots, there’s a chance our work will be worse off for the attempt.
We might worry that our storytelling ability isn’t up to the task of evoking our complex ideas. Or that the story on paper won’t be as cool as it was in our heads. Or that we’re ruining the story with the revisions we know it needs.
Again, the only way to avoid the potential of failure is to not write at all. I don’t know about you, but my muse says that’s not an option. *smile*
What Risks Are You Taking?
So if we have to take risks to be a writer in the first place, the only question is: What risks are we willing to take?
Maybe we’ll tackle a story that intimidates us. Maybe we’ll query again, even though that last rejection hurt. Maybe we’ll pitch to an agent or an editor for the first time (to make this one easier, WANACon offers live pitch sessions that are fuzzy-slippers compatible). Maybe we’ll publish with an untested small publisher we want to believe in or we’ll decide to self-publish.
Maybe we’ll go to a writing conference, like oh, say, WANACon. *grin*
For myself, I took the step of querying my “dream agent” like I promised myself I would. Also, in addition to presenting at WANACon, I’ll be presenting at two in-person conferences this year. (Believe me, given the panic attacks I have before every in-person conference, this is a bigger risk than you might think.)
In April, I’ll be presenting at the Desert Dreams Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Then in July, I’ll be presenting again at the Romance Writers of America National Conference in San Antonio. I think all that deserves a “Jami is insane” tag on this post, but I can’t be the only one.
My point is that if we want to make progress of any kind, we have to take risks. So I ask you: What are you willing to risk for your writing? *smile*
P.S. If you’ve signed up for WANACon, don’t forget that you have until this Friday (February 14, 2014) to enter the WANACon giveaway for free admission. WANACon will be refunding registration fees to three lucky winners. (Note: You must be registered for WANACon to win.)
Did you catch Gabriela’s presentation or watch the recording? Do you agree with her advice? Did any of her tips resonate with you? How are you taking risks in the pursuit of making progress? Will you be at any of the same conferences I’ll be attending? (And let me know if you have any questions about WANACon.)Pin It