Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Taking the Plunge – My First Writers Workshop

I did it.

After spending the last six years learning how to write fiction, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a writer’s workshop in October. Signing up for a workshop may seem like no big deal to some of you veterans out there, but for me this was a major step forward.

I’ve toyed with the idea of attending writer’s conferences over the past few years, but never felt I could justify the time and expense this would entail, especially since I thought my writing skills were still too raw to properly benefit from the experience. This workshop, however, seemed to fit the bill. It’s an intensive two day course (Friday and Saturday), so I only have to miss one day of work. It’s only five hours away by car. And it’s run by David Farland, whose blog I follow religiously.

As it turned out, the decision was a bit more difficult than I expected. After consulting with my wife to make sure she was on board with this the idea (she’s very supportive, BTW), I decided I would sign up for the course the next day. Unfortunately, the next day turned out to be one of those down days that strike writers every so often. I’d gone back to one of my earlier chapters for some light editing and was horrified to discover how sophomoric the words sounded. And try as I might, I couldn’t think of any way to improve the wording. I know I’ll never be great with words—I’m just not wired for it—but I’d thought my writing had progressed beyond what was staring me in the face. And to top it off, I read the first chapter from another author’s book and was blown away by how smoothly the words flowed. And it was her debut book! Arggg! Suddenly, I began to wonder if this whole writing thing was just a silly pipedream.

So when I sat down in front of the computer that evening to sign up for the course, I got cold feet and walked away. Up to now I’ve treated writing as something approaching a hobby—one I’ve worked very hard on, mind you—but still a hobby. If I never became a published author, my life wouldn’t be over. I’d still have my day job. I’d still have made lots of writer friends. And I could still dream about what might have been. But spending money on a writing workshop meant I was officially branding my writing as more than just a hobby. It’s not as though I haven’t spent money on craft books and SCBWI memberships, but this would be ratcheting my commitment up a notch. And if turned out that this was a pipe dream after all, that my writing skills would never progress to the required levels, then spending money on this workshop would be like throwing it away.

So I crept off to a quiet spot in the house and pondered how my MC would handle the situation. About thirty minutes later, I marched back to the computer and signed up for the course.

Ha! Take that, muse! The ball’s in your court now.



  1. That's great, Ken! Good on ya!

    I get into those writer ruts a bunch too. I have to stop reading a certain author, whom I love, because I get so intimidated!

  2. Nice. You have to remember, a person's debut novel is probably their 4th to 9th novel, and has been through the hands of so many editors and readers it might make you sick. Never compare an early draft to a polished work. Don't do it!

  3. Good for you!
    Anytime you can learn something, whether it eventually makes you money or not, is a good thing.
    And I bet you're better than you think.

  4. Adding on to what Crystal said above about that debut novel possibly being the 9th one actually written by that author, you need to consider that first chapters are written and re-written and re-re-written countless times. I KNOW that I rewrite my opening chapter more than all the other words in the book combined.

    Congrats on signing up for the conference. I'm glad your MC made you do it!

  5. That's awesome, Ken. Good for you! :D

  6. A very important step, to feel that doubt and do it anyway. Looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    Moody Writing

  7. Fantastic! I've always wanted to do an extensive workshop. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

  8. Good job, Ken. You decided to be proactive like your protag. Gotta walk the walk if you're gonna talk the talk.

  9. I agree with Alex, money spent on yourself is a bad thing. Congrats for signing up. I know how hard it is to take the plunge.

  10. I don't know how you could doubt your skills after the last two chapters i read. No matter which mc made you sign up, I hope this means there's another chapter coming my way. My next flight is Sep 18th.