Good Idea, Bad Idea

Thursday, October 08, 2015
I was a big fan of the Animaniac cartoons. (Um...yeah. I spent hours watching them while writing up this post. Still a big fan.)

The humor was subversive and super funny, and one of my favorite bits was called, “Good Idea, Bad Idea.” As in Good Idea: Throwing a penny into the fountain to make a wish. Bad Idea: Throwing your cousin Penny into the fountain to make a wish.

So as I head out to a writer’s conference next week, I find myself thinking about good ideas and bad ideas, and how sometimes, the difference between the two can be a very small thing indeed.

Good Idea: Create a unique business card.

Bad Idea: Add glitter to your business card.

Sure, you want to stand out, grab an editor or agent’s attention. But keep it professional, and keep in mind that for the most part, you’ll be giving your business card to other writers you meet. If you want to be remembered, add your photo, not pink glow-in-the-dark glitter.

Good Idea: Take notes and ask questions in the workshops you attend.

Bad Idea: Take the workshop hostage by asking question after question after question.

Of course you want to get your money’s worth at every workshop you attend. You want to be the best writer you can be and if you don’t understand something, you need to ask questions, right? Well, sort of. The thing is, asking questions is like imbibing in adult beverages: you can get obnoxious fast if you don’t realize when to say when.

Good Idea: Be friendly and approachable and make new friends.

Bad Idea: Be friendly and meet lots of new people and then forget them five minutes later.

I know it’s hard to remember names and faces, especially when you’re nervous about meeting new people. But make an effort to be in the moment, to focus on the person you’re meeting instead of thinking of a hundred different things. Engage in conversation, even if it’s brief, and you’re more likely to remember that new person. And hey, if you struggle with what to say, ask for a business card!

Good Idea: Follow up on opportunities from the conference.

Bad Idea: Follow an agent or editor on social media to the point where you’re referred to as “Creepy Stalker Writer.”

Look, it’s fine to connect with professionals on Facebook and Twitter. They expect that sort of social media interaction. But don’t make a nuisance of yourself; you are not their new best friend. You are one of many writers they’ve just met, and if you really want to make a connection, work on your craft, then follow up on that opportunity to submit. You might be surprised where that connection leads!

I’m sure that I’ve barely scratched the surface of Good Ideas/Bad Ideas when it comes to conferences, so come play! I’ll gladly give you my (cousin) Penny for your thoughts!

~Cathy C. Hall


Charlotte Dixon said...

Love the Animaniacs! Great lead-in to your post :) Conferences and workshops can be intimidating and your advice is sound. The good idea, bad idea made it all the better. Thank you for giving me some chuckles and smiles for my day :)

Unknown said...

Bad Idea: Add glitter to your business card.

Hahahaha! My niece loves glitter everything and it made me imagine of her bedroom. Think: pink and glitter. :)Good for a teenage bedroom, bad for a professional image, unless you're selling flamingos.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Oh, c'mon, now. Glitter is always a good idea. :D

I'd forgotten about the Animaniacs, but now thanks to you, I've remembered. So...

Good idea: Reading Cathy's blog.
Bad idea: Reading Cathy's blog when there are cartoons to watch. (Don't you know I've got work to do??)

Anonymous said...

I've never even heard of the Animaniacs. Perhaps I should continue to ignore/resist, because if I don't, I might be watching cartoons for the next five hours.

I know YOU don't do any of those "bad idea" things. That's COAS territory...

Cathy C. Hall said...

Ah, glitter. Can you ever have enough?

(Yes. Step away from the glitter.)

Sioux, you have to watch just a little. The Animaniacs are cartoon gold (and glittery, too)!

Tina Cho said...

Fun blog format. I'll have to remember that. I don't think I ever watched Animaniacs.

Unknown said...

Clever post and wise advice. Thanks, Cathy.

Linda O'Connell said...

Great points here, Cathy. Your posts are glittery with humor and useful info.

sally said...

Loved this. May I suggest that you can never go wrong with MOO business cards, which are the coolest cards ever.

And . . . I must admit, I'm guilty of being a friend and then forgetting people five minutes later. I need to meet someone three times, usually, before I remember them. I hate that about myself. My father and my husband were both great at remembering people and remembering the names of their children and their dogs, even. I need to work harder on this. My brain just feels too full of stuff, I'm afraid.

Great post, Cathy. Can't wait to catch up at WIK next week.

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