Scheduling Success

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

In just a week or so, I’ll be attending my regional SCBWI conference. I like to think of it as scheduling success. Every time I sign on for a writer’s conference, workshop, retreat, or class, whether it’s in person or online, I’m moving forward.

So how about you? Are you scheduling success? And more importantly, have you put any of your cold, hard-earned cash into the venture? Because here’s the bottom line: when we invest in our writing, in ourselves, we mean business. Once we throw down the money, we go from a hobby writer with nothing on the line to a serious writer, with stakes involved.

But Cathy, you say, that’s fine for you; you write for children. The children’s writing world is bursting with opportunities all over the place. I write for adults.

Great! Check out RomanceWriters of America. And before you say forget it, Cathy, I don’t write romance, take a look at the kinds of classes and workshops that RWA offers. You want to go in-depth on plotting, historical research, marketing? Novels vs. novellas? Traditional vs. hybrid publishing? Bet you’ll find that information and more.

Oh, wait. There’s someone with a niche specialty. A gal in the back, with her hand up. “Cathy, that’s just swell, but I only write flash fiction.” And thanks to the wonder of the web, you can find just about any specialty. Just like I found this swell Flash Fiction Festival over in Bath. (That’s in the United Kingdom, but honestly, I’ve written many flash fiction pieces whilst in the bath. Coincidence? I think not.)

And now, a few tips before you fill up your schedule and press the Submit Now button.

·        Ask friends for recommendations. I wish I could say that any writer’s conference, workshop, retreat, or class will be worth it. But that is sadly not true. All are not created equal, so become an ace investigator and get reviews from people in the know. If you don’t have writer friends to ask, search for online reviews. And keep in mind that old adage about getting what you pay for.

·        Set realistic expectations. It’s realistic to expect progress in your writing, even if it’s a small step forward. It’s not so realistic to expect that an editor will buy your manuscript on the spot. So choose what will help you achieve your ultimate goal, but understand that the endgame could take a while.

·        Enjoy the journey. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in the pursuit of a goal that we miss the little joys along the way. And I get it; you’ve spent a lot of money and you’re working, working, working! But take time to meet people, whether online or in person. Share the ups and downs, and make connections. Celebrate any progress; reward yourself when you complete that class or get up the courage to have a professional manuscript critique! It can be a long, challenging journey but it doesn’t have to be miserable.

So crack open the budget and pull out your calendars! What’s on your success schedule this year?

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer and if you're going to be at the SCBWI conference in Birmingham on March 10th, come say hello! She also presents at conferences, so if you need someone witty on writing, contact her soon.  She's not free, but she is reasonable. Unless it's a full moon. Or Tuesday. (Or come visit Cathy at her blog where she's witty on writing for free.)


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

This reminds me--I am in dire need of a writing workshop. I've been playing around with a new book idea and need some inspiration. Hope you have a great time at your conference, Cathy!

Margo Dill said...

I honestly cannot think of one workshop/conference that I've ever been to where I haven't gotten some benefit--both children's writers and adult writers. Whether it's networking or a useful tip or inspiration, it's our professional development and you do have to take time for it! :) Have fun!

Pat Wahler said...

It's stimulating to spend time with other writers. That only can be worth the price of admission.

Cathy C. Hall said...

SO worth it! Thanks, y'all, hope you're signing up for something, too!

Renee Roberson said...

Well, after reading your post I went to check out the SCBWI Conference in my area that I've been to twice in the past. That sucker is already sold out and it isn't even until September! More and more writers are realizing the benefit of these conferences, I believe. Guess it may be time for me to step out of my comfort zone and find another conference . . .

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

RWA is fantastic, full of opportunities to learn new things, to stay in the know with industry happenings, and to meet a lot of lovely people who are part of our writing tribe. SCBWI is the same, though I'm no longer a member---but I met my critique partner at a SCBWI conference and we've been BFFs ever since.

My focus this year is marketing, and I've already taken one workshop and am in the middle of another. They're online, though, not in person where a lot of networking happens. Still, I'm sure it will be worthwhile. Marketing is my Achilles heel, so any little thing I can do to become better at it can only help.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Cathy! A lot of writers are at AWP right now, which is huge. One of our instructors is presenting. I'm adding it to my list next year. I'm debating on going to BEA this year. I can get press passes for both! :)

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top