LDStorymakers is a writing conference that happens every year in Utah. This year, it took place at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah. Until a month ago I had not even heard of the wonderful conference but a dear friend told me about it and encouraged me to come. When I looked into the classes and programs being offered, my reaction can pretty much be summed up as: “Why am I only hearing about this now? This is fantastic!”
Rather than provide notes of highlights of each and every individual classes/sessions, I’m going to include my notes from Traci Abramson on the subject of overcoming writer’s block. Here are some of the other classes/sessions I attended:
- The newbie orientation:
- This was a good session to open with for anyone who was nervous about attending LDStorymakers for the first time. It was also a nice way to serve as a bridge between the registration desk and the first session so that people weren’t thrown into the water right out of the gate, so to speak.
- Page-turning plots
- Overcoming writer’s block
- When your mojo is lost
- Goldilocks and the three writers:
- Another great exercise in calming oneself and taking a breather, this session included some great tips on what to do after Storymakers ended, and one of the suggestions was to write a blog post, so here I am 🙂 There were a lot of good reminders of Do’s and Dont’s, but overall it was a good reminder to take things as they came and not stress too much about how to remember everything we heard over the past couple of days.
- Strong female characters in urban fantasy and paranormal romance
- Dan Wells on Anti-heroes:
- This was one of the best sessions I attended the entire weekend—Wells gave us four categories of anti-heroes and an interesting sidebar on the Seth Rogen type of anti-hero, which is used to great comedic effect. People asked great questions during this panel and got a lively discussion going, so it was a nice mix of essential information but also good conversation.
- 21 deadly sins of writing romance:
- For this session, I pushed myself to attend something that’s outside my comfort zone and not in a genre I write, and it paid off. Donna Hatch, the presenter, made some great points throughout. I noticed a lot of parallels to the kinds of characters I hate reading about in urban fantasy novels, so the trend translates outside of just the romance genre.
- Stealing plots:
- An entertaining session from Courtney Alameda, author of Shutter, about how our story ideas are not quite as unique as we think they are, and that we should be aware of our influences. She explained the difference between plagiarism and outright stealing versus subtle nods or winks versus showing the influence of other writers and texts in our own work.
- Author Cassie Mae talked about selling yourself online and social media:
- She explained some of the measurement tools available to authors such as Facebook’s page insights as well as Twitter’s new analytics feature. She had a lot of helpful Do’s and Dont’s to mention. Some of the Do’s and Dont’s may have seemed obvious to some, but I’m always surprised what some authors still do (like auto-DMs).
Here are some highlights from Traci Abramson’s presentation about overcoming writer’s block:
The most common reasons writer’s block happens:
- Lack of ideas
- Too many ideas
Here are some of the most helpful tips/solutions she shared:
- If we discover our writing style, this can potentially help unblock us. You could be an outline writer like I am (or a “plotter”) or you could be a discovery writer (more commonly known as a “pantser”), or even a combination of both.
- You can try writing scenes out of chronological order—write what’s fun first and then move on to the other scenes we’re stuck on later. This is a similar principle to when teachers would tell us before tests that we should answer the questions we knew first and then come back to the ones we didn’t know in order to make the most of exam time deadlines
- Read your previously written scenes as a way to excite you about your project and keep that momentum going
- Make sure you find quiet time to formulate what you’re going to write on a particular day—everything from waiting in line to when you’re stuck in traffic—as pre-planning and knowing what to write before you sit down to write help to get that flow going
- Accountability—that is, checking in with a critique partner or a friend to make sure you’re meeting your writing goals—is a great way of staying on course
Going back to that dear friend of mine, Mercedes Murdock Yardley, I had an absolute blast hanging out with her at the conference. Oh what fun we had! 🙂
Now, this is what Mercedes usually looks like (or at least the way I am used to seeing her):
So when she posted some photos of her rad new ‘do, I was curious to see what it would look like in person. Here’s her new awesome DC Lucifer meets Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox hair, which I adore (this was taken at the Saturday book signing with author Rebecca Blevins):
And here are some of her books on display in the bookstore. I may have given a few passersby some helpful nudges in the right direction 😉
- There are too many amazing folks to name here that I met during the conference, and I don’t want to leave anyone out. Let’s just say this little Canadian is used to giving myself the “Dorothy, we’re not in Canada anymore, steel yourself” talk whenever I travel to the US. I’m still in shock over how genuinely nice, humble and down-to-earth almost every single person was at this conference.
- This is the first time I’ve observed what it looks like when people are sincerely happy that someone else won a prize or an award. I’m still reeling from how amazing people were and the convivial atmosphere even when passing people on the escalators!
- The presenters were so choc-full of amazing information for almost every panel I attended that they almost always ran out of time towards the end of their designated time slots. People were attentive, engaged and asked great questions.
- I didn’t arrive in time for the day of Bootcamp workshops on Thursday (which was my first day of never-ending flights). Alas, there’s always next time.
- Not having any projects that were in pitch-able (pitch-ready?) condition for the wonderful and fantastic agents and editors that were at the conference
- The whole weekend the other conference-goers spoiled me with their amazing warmth and friendliness so getting back to the airport was a bit of a harsh adjustment 😉
- I do wish I could have had more time to explore some of the stunning nature that Utah has to offer. Those mountains alone are magnificent!
So post-conference, what am I doing? Well, I’m working on my rewrite of my current WIP. I’m a big proponent of the slow writing movement, having first heard about the concept from Anne R. Allen’s wonderful blog, and I’m trying to embrace it because we all have a different process. One of my chronic illnesses slows me down quite a bit and I only have so much energy in a given day, but I’m doing the best that I can with what I’ve got and I’m learning the value of “good enough” instead of “No, it must be perfect all the time!”
How do you fare after a conference or a convention? Do you come back feeling re-energized or invigorated and re-inspired to come to your work with new energy? Do you need some time to percolate and process all that you’ve learned or maybe just get over some jet lag? Sound off in the comments below!