By Laura Drake
Who hasn’t made a vow on New Year’s Eve (maybe after a couple of glasses of champagne) that this is your year to get in shape. You join a gym, you get a personal trainer, you start jogging. And its hard work; muscle only builds when you work it.
Writing is like that too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a New York Times bestseller, or trying to chisel your first novel out of stone. Everyone needs to exercise their creative muscles to get, or stay, on top.
I warned my husband when I started this journey ten years ago, that I’d need to invest in my education. Every year, I spend some money set aside for that purpose.
Two years ago, I attended the RWA National Conference in DC. It was a tough taskmaster; to bed at 3, then getting up early to get into business attire for a full day of seminars, and pitching. It taught me rock-steady nerves, belief in myself, and that I’m not the only one sitting at a computer for huge chunks of time, trying to pull something out of my head and get it down on paper.
I came back with a renewed sense of purpose and the picture in my head of myself in an a little black dress and glittery jewelry, climbing the steps to accept my Golden Heart.
I worked those muscles all year. Armed with a new book and confidence in my newfound stamina, entered the Golden Heart. The results weren’t pretty.
But I didn’t give up. I continued to show up, every day. I took online classes. I attended special workshops. I went to local mini-conferences and lectures. Then one day, I heard a new name. Margie Lawson. I looked her up online. She was conducting an online Deep Edits class soon. Hey, editing was a muscle group I’d been ignoring. So I signed up.
It turned out to be a Marine Boot Camp compared to my normal workout. Weeks of hard work: amping up emotions, cutting clichés, and learning rhetorical devices to write fresh.
It was brutal. But my crit partners were amazed at the improvement in my writing. Even I could see the difference.
The book I cranked out the next year was miles ahead of the one before it. It won contests. I was proud.
I raved about Margie. So when Fae Rowan saw her Masters Immersion Class offered on the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction, she bid on it. And won. She asked me if I wanted to go with her. I had money my education fund, and free airline miles, so I signed up.
We traveled 2,000 feet above Boulder, Colorado to Margie’s imposing log home (formerly owned by Joan Johnston.) There, I met Darcy Crowder, a fellow RWA-WFer. Remember that name – you’re going to see it in print. She’s good!
Three intense days followed. I’m talking 14 hour, Margie Lawson-energizer-bunny days. Even the afternoon we went to Boulder to shop, she met one-on-one with us to review scenes in a coffee shop. And we had a handout to go over at dinner in an amazing restaurant (pictured here.)
I’m home now, editing that second book. Whatever you do to get in shape –weights, personal trainer, or boot camp, do something to improve your writing this year.
Want to see my authorpezius muscle? Okay, so they’re not Nora-sized yet, but dang it, I’m going to be published this year!
Are you with me?? What are your writing workout goals this year?