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URI Summer Writing Conference: 3 Big Lessons on Day 1

I’d love to share some photos from day 1 of the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference with you: There’s the one of Cate Tucker (from my book writing class), Peter Covino (director of the conference), me and bestselling author Robert Leuci‘s thumb. Not his fault.  My phone has a highly non-intuitive camera. Not that a phone can possess intuition, but even those with ESP would have a hard time figuring it out, not that Robert Leuci has ESP.

Anyway, can’t share the photos because I don’t know how to e-mail them from my phone.

The first lesson of the day, then: if you blog, bring an extra battery for your real camera. Or, if I were to generalize: be prepared.

Second lesson: Enjoy writing; be playful. I’d been putting so much pressure on myself to write the next blockbuster middle grade novel/screenplay/Broadway musical that I felt completely overwhelmed.

Meeting with novelist Crystal Wilkinson for a one on one, I realized that all the things I see as possibly insurmountable problems in my novel clearly are just that: possibly insurmountable.  And, still, I’m attracted to the story.

Crystal gave me some exciting ways to play with the book: write pages of “What if’s” about the characters, their actions, the world I’m creating. Some images came to mind that made me laugh out loud as we toyed with what if’s and my muse came out to play.

I’ve given myself permission to make this fun–it’s a children’s novel, after all–and I finally realized that, in my previous state of seriosity (yes, new word), there was no way I could ever write the book. In my new found state of openness and chill, there’s potential, possibility, spark.

Lesson Three: Do your homework; put the writing first. Peter invited conference presenters to Jamestown for a light dinner after the reception and readings. And then he invited the whole gang. But we had homework!

I almost went. It’s a wonderful thing to meet writers, connect, find company in the sometimes-lonely world of writing.

But I knew that if I went to dinner, I would never get my homework done. Or I’d do a slipshod job and go to bed too late and wake up tired. I tell my book writing students all the time to get enough sleep and write when you”re fresh. I tell them to cut down on the socializing for the short time they’re writing their books. They can use socializing as a reward after completing some writing commitment. But don’t give up writing time to go out.

For the record, I took my own advice. And it felt great. I rewrote my “scene.” I read the three well-crafted stories we received in class. I’m going to bed by 10 and I may even have time to take a bath before bed. And I can socialize at dinner tomorrow as my reward. ‘Night.

More this weekend from the conference.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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Comments

  1. Robin Gillette says

    I love it. When we keep our mind and heart open to a learning moment we remain a student of life, keep our focus on our dream, and still get to play. Life is good. I can’t wait to read more about your experiences at the conference.

  2. Cate Tucker says

    Hi Lisa
    A great conferance and blog, thank you for making me aware of the URI Summer Writing Conferance. By the way, I love the color on your blog, it definitely enhances the points you want to make. Yes, I do feel rejuvenated and excited by some great new ideas last week, it may going back to my day job more tolerable.
    Cate

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