Friday, June 24, 2011

Overfeeding the Hungry Muse

There's definitely no shortage of resources to feed my writing muse. Blogs, conferences, publications (both digital and otherwise), books on writing, books on publishing, books on revising, books on finding an agent, online data bases, online chat rooms, critique groups, workshops, lectures, newsletters ... and on and on and on. The real challenge is recognizing which resources will actually nourish my muse and when.

It's a little like shopping at Costco. I don't know about you, but my brain goes into overdrive and my eyes glass over when I spend too much time at Costco. Bulk everything. Piles and piles and piles of merchandise of every sort and kind. Free samples. Crowds and crowds of people. You better know what you're after or you'll end up with a year's supply of jalapeno-flavored cream cheese in a jumbo tub.

Writing conferences offer a great opportunity for inspiration and networking, plus a chance to get your foot in the door with editors or agents who don't normally accept unsolicited manuscripts but will do so for conference attendees. Conferences can be energizing, but they can also be overwhelming. You get out of them what you put into them. It's a good idea to balance workshops on the business of writing (getting an agent, getting published, marketing your book, writing your query letter) with those on the craft of writing, just to keep your sanity. It helps to have your own goals in mind so you don't get swept up in everyone else's goals. And you need to be prepared to answer, and ask, the question "What are you working on?" over and over and over.

Personally, I prefer the face-to-face, real-time interaction of conferences and workshops to the one-dimensional experience of blogs, newsletters, and similar formats. But when the intense energy, time and money required for a conference is in short supply, or I need guidance and inspiration in smaller doses spread throughout my year on my own timeline and my own schedule, then books on writing, and blogs and newsletters and similar resources, truly fit the bill.

Summer is my conference time. But just for this year, I've opted out of writing conferences. My hungry muse needs a different diet for a while.

1 comment:

  1. You're smart to pay attention to the need to recharge. Introverts -- and that's most writers -- need down time to restock their energy.

    Those big conferences are fun in a lot of ways, but they are draining. The participants see the stakes as so high that there's a lot of stress and pressure just vibrating in the air.


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