I just returned from UW-Madison’s 29th Annual Writers’ Institute where an incredible lineup of guest instructors offered a wide array of sessions for people at every point on the writing spectrum: from “thinking about it,” to multi-published, and every possibility in-between.
In addition to engaging breakout sessions where the attendees learned tangible tips and actionable techniques, the conference offerings included critique services, agent pitching opportunities, page and poem contests, and a book signing event.
Courtesy of Kristin Oakley—Writers Institute Bookstore. I had the good fortune to sit with one of my early writing mentors, Laurel Yourke.
As well as teaching four sessions, I had the privilege of closing the conference by introducing a writing mentor experience—Pathway to Publication—an exclusive opportunity for 30 attendees of the 2018 Writers’ Institute.
Chris Norbury, the author of CASTLE DANGER, captured this photo of “Laurie bookends:” me at the podium “grilling” Laurie Scheer.
Chris Norbury’s Castle Danger can be purchased here (click).
Laurel Yourke’s Beyond the First Draft can be purchased here (click).
Whether verbal or written, excellent communicators always answer two questions:
1. What is the point?
2. Why does it matter?
Packed with agent pitches, workshops, speakers, critique feedback, panels, networking opportunities, and an abundance of add-ons, the sold out 23rd annual Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison was educational, inspirational, and just plain fun!
Between concurrent sessions and speaking myself, I had windows of opportunity to attend a few sessions. Here are two nuggets of gold from each session I attended:
The Writer’s Life – John Vorhaus
“Practice makes perfect progress.”
“As a writer, our job is to close the gap between where the work is, and where it needs to be.”
Ask a literary agent who has expressed interest in you:
Who are your favorite clients?
What are the last three books you sold?
What impressed you about my writing?
How invested are you going to be in my literary growth?
The Play is the Thing – Brendan Sullivan
We respond to ideas in two ways:
“Yes, but” is negative and down pulling
“Yes, and” is positive and uplifting
“The most creative people on the planet are children between the ages of 3-7. They ask ‘Why?’ all the time. Get back to asking why.”
Anatomy of a Book Trailer – Susan Reetz
Similar to a movie preview, a book trailer is a 30-second to 3-minute video teaser for a book. It’s designed to generate buzz and interest. It can also be used to promote your work to agents and publishers.
A book trailer is a marketing tool you promote on your website, YouTube, Vimeo, Goodreads, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn—everywhere!
The Writer’s Magical Publicity Tour – Brian Christian and Jim Pappandrea
Once you’re book is published—Congratulations!—you’re now on the marketing team of your publisher.
“My antidote to nerves is preparation. Know your topic.” – Jim Pappandrea
“Think about nerves as energy, harness it and put it to good use.” – Brian Christian
Secrets of Famous Prolific Writers – Angela Voras-Hills
“You will never find the time to write. You have to make the time to write.”
“A schedule helps you [and your friends and family] take your writing seriously.”
Creative Bypasses & Detours for Better Driving – Brendan Sullivan
“Inspiration is a matter of observation.”
“There’s more than one right answer, but there’s only one best answer. To find it you have to look at them all.”
Publishing in the Post-Paper World – John Vorhaus
“The publishing world as we’ve known it is changing. We can no longer count on publishers to distribute, market, and promote our work. These responsibilities now fall squarely in the writer’s lap.”
“We are digital immigrants. Our children are digital natives.”
Whether you’re an aspiring or seasoned writer, I hope you’ll consider attending next year’s Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. You can join their mailing list here.
Not just for writers—when was the last time you showed your creative work to someone else?
Laurie Scheer has made the details of this year’s Writers’ Institute available on the UW-Madison website. Needless to say, as an instructor I’m beyond excited!
The first person who introduced me to the concept of “show, don’t tell” was Laurel Yourke. The person who hammered the idea home was Christine DeSmet. You can learn more about all three of these creative and engaging women on the “Instructor” page.
Those of you who know me well are aware that Len and I haven’t had a television for almost 32 years. We’re avid readers. As such, I’m always asking friends and clients about books. My friend Sandi introduced me to the work of Dorothea Benton Frank. Now there’s an author who can paint a word picture:
“To her right, the creek was completely placid and the shrimp boats were reflected in the water in perfect mirror images. Great beauty did not always require great sums of money, she thought. Sometimes something as easy and undemanding as an old shrimp boat, moored to an ancient piling battered from salt and time, could stop your heart in the same way as might a great work of art.”
Ms. Frank’s description immediately called to mind one of our favorite locations in Nova Scotia. But even if I didn’t have that memory to fall back on, her words painted a vivid picture on the canvas in my mind.