Monday, August 24, 2009

Make Your Own Writers' Workshop!

Tip of the Day: Don't just save your own writing to your thumb drive; save the critiques you receive. I carry a thumb drive in my purse with crits of the next chapter I'm planning to revise, so I can make revisions anytime, anywhere.

On Saturday, Deena and I met with our Rochester area YA/MG critique group for an all day, do-it-yourself writers' workshop. We rented an office in the city for the day. This was very reasonably priced, and the office had all the outlets and desks the five of us could ever need. The office we rented is a space designed for only that--they rent out the office space to people who want to meet and work.

And we worked! Now, I don't know about your writing friends, but my local peeps and I are chatty. Seriously, we could gossip about writing and, let's face it, everything else for hours. We knew that if we just showed up on Saturday, we'd find ourselves talking more than writing. So we drew up a schedule and we stuck to it like a German rail conductor.

We started with a half-hour of set up time, followed by 2 1/2 hours of quiet writing time. The schedule built in a long lunch time to get the chatting out of our systems. We went back for two more hours of writing, then a short break, then another hour of writing. We all brought cold beverages and snacks, so there were no excuses for slacking. But we didn't want to slack. We were spending a Saturday away from our families and significant others. We had BETTER have something to show for it!

So how much can I get done in about 5 hours of writing uninterrupted by "Mom! Mom!"?
--I wrote a 7-page insert chapter from scratch
--I heavily revised another, longer chapter, which ended up being a complete rewrite. (I was only able to reuse a short dialogue exchange.)
--I revised most a third chapter

Most of all, I gained a lot more enthusiasm for the project. I've been stuck in the mucky middle, telling myself that I can't sit still for 5 hours of revising. Well, it turns out that I can! And I forgot how much I like my characters. They're funny people.

I loved our writers' workshop, and I hope we do it again soon. We were so productive planning and plotting. Maybe we should give our crit group a name: The Planners and Plotters!

-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


amuse me said...

I love this idea. I would so love to have a day, with a schedule, just like this. I end up finding too many distractions around here. :) M

Emily Marshall said...

Yay, I think its so fun to make your own workshop!! Sounds like you got lots done. Congrats.

Ghost Girl said...

Okay...that's just plain brilliant!! I've done my own private retreat, but never a DIY workshop. Now if I could just hook up with some other writers in SW GA.
Thanks for sharing!

Kate Fall said...

It worked out great! And there's no reason you couldn't rent a place out by yourself, if it's cheap enough.

Mary Ann, I hope you find a local writing group soon. I know it's a challenge.

DeenaML said...

It was such a great time! Kate is so right -- we will TALK if we don't stick to it. But when our designated break times came, we kept writing! Kate, you did AWESOME will writing a brand new chap from scratch! I rewrote/revised 38 pages from a previous version of my novel into the new version. And it got me so cranked up to keep writing! I highly recommend doing something like this. And the time FLEW by!

Kristina Springer said...

Sounds awesome!

Christina Farley said...

This is a fantastic idea! You got so much done. I love it.