Monday, December 28, 2009

Whirpool-of-Suggestions Question

As a novice writer, I could benefit from plenty of advice in the area of creative writing and novel planning in general. I'd like to tap my resource of friends (YOU) and ask:

Are there any seminars, conferences, classes or utilities that you believe I could benefit from, other than books about said topic?

What has helped you as a writer/author?


M. Gray said...

Oh no! I probably shouldn't answer because everything I've learned from books or college. I AM planning on going to a conference this spring, the LDS Storymakers one but I know there are tons of other conferences out there. I'll be curious to see what other people have done!

Natalie said...

I've never been to a conference (so I have no idea how helpful they are), but I am going to SCBWI in NY at the end of January. I think the way you learn to write is by writing A LOT. If you put an hour or two into it everyday you WILL get better. The only book on writing I've ever read is Stephen King's, On Writing, which was very helpful. My writing group has probably been the most helpful resource for me.

Mary said...

I think I've learned the most by reading other people's helpful blogs. I was going to give you a list of blogs that have helped me, but if you go to my blog - I have a list of link list titled On Writing and these are links to blogs that have helped me the most.
Also having people critique your work and critiquing others work is very beneficial as well.
I was recently told to become a member of SCBWI they usually have local chapters and monthly meetings.

Mary said...

Sorry my sentence got garbled in the middle. There is a link list titled On Writing. I'm sure you figured it out, but I hate to leave things in such a mess.

Charles Gramlich said...

Conferences are fun but I find them more helpful for making contacts than for learning a lot of writing tips. I learned whatever I know from two places, 1) reading a lot of fiction and trying to study how the writer's achieved, or failed to achieve, what they were trying to accomplish, and 2) reading books written about writing so I could study 'em over time.

The best book I've ever read on writing in general was "On Writing Well" by William Zinsser. Lawrence Block has a good one too, "Telling Lies for Fun and Profit," and I also enjoyed David Morrell's Lessons from a lifetime of writing.

I must also, of course, recommend my own nonfiction book on writing, called "Write With Fire." It's a collection of essays about all kinds of things to do with writing, like characters, writing groups, formats, getting ideas, and so on. Hey, tooting your own horn is necessary in writing too. :)

David J. West said...

I am sure there are writers conferences in the Phoneix area-I just couldn't tell you which ones. I would say that I initially went with low expectations but did indeed learn from them.

Another great weekly/daily tip is from Dave Farlands Kick in the Pants writing tips-sign up at his site. should take you to where you can sign up and get lots of great tips. I went to his writing seminar last June and learned so much. I highly recomend it.

Catherine Denton said...

I'm kind of a conference junkie. I LOVE them. Especially all the workshops you get to choose. If you write for children then SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) is a great resource. It offers local meetings and you can get into a critique group. I'm also a how-to junkie so here are two of my favorite books: Hooked by Les Edgerton and Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham (not sure if this one is still in print). Hope this helps!

Voidwalker said...

Wow, lots of great info. You guys are awesome. I've wondered if conferences are worthwhile or not, so it's been on my mind. I have gleaned a lot of great information from all of your blogs lately too, which has set me in the right direction for a lot of things in the writing aspect. THANK YOU ALL!!!

Anonymous said...

I love conferences for two reasons: networking and the speakers. I have learned some interesting publishing trends from the agents and editors. The writers are the bomb. My last SCBWI conference in Minneapolis was out of this world as far as speakers were concerned.

Critiques are extremely helpful. I have found a great group of cyber buddies via NaNoWriMo and another set from Agent Query. Communicating with each other on different perspectives is very valuable.

Last, or maybe first, practice. Lots of time clocked in behind the keyboard. "They" say it takes the average writer about ten years to hone their craft. So, if you started tinkering at ten and got progressively better, you may be set for publication by 20 or so.

Write, edit, submit, make mistakes, write some more and always persevere. If you believe in yourself, stick with it. The process is long and many wanna-bes drop out early.

Diana Paz said...

Personally? Conferences seem more useful to the writer with at least one completed novel, since (just like in query letters) agents are interested in writers with a book that's ready to be shown. Conferences do have workshops that could give you insight and maybe help... honestly though, nothing beats hard-nosed critiquers. Seminars and conferences will feel more warm and fuzzy; a good, heartless critique will make your nose sting, so it depends on what you're ready for. Conferences are also very expensive (but invaluable if you're ready), so, having been to a few conferences myself (and enjoyed them immensely), for "helpfulness" I'd say, read published author websites (find the authors that have advice for writers), read a lot of excellent fiction, keep writing, and find yourself some tough critique buddies (but be ready to take some heat). Good luck ;)