Lessons learned from the Tallahassee Writer’s Conference


2014 conference

This is the second writer’s conference I’ve attended, and it was absolutely fantastic. The first conference I attended was the 2013 Tallahassee Writer’s Conference, and I wrote several posts about it last summer.

There are so many benefits to attending writer’s conferences, but I won’t really go into that today. Needless to say, I enjoyed networking with other likeminded writers and attending the extremely informative sessions.

I promised I’d share what I learned, so here goes.

I signed up for the optional pre-breakfast session at 7 AM. Not many conference participants attend this session – because who’s willing to get up that early? But I happen to be a morning person and I was so excited to get there I wasn’t even sleepy. (And I was in a surprisingly good mood despite a tiny car incident the night before. A post for another day, perhaps? I drove to the conference myself and everything. That’s bravery, my friends.)

This optional pre-breakfast session about backstory was led by Jon Jefferson, author of the Body Farm novels. (Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass are co-authors who write under the pen name Jefferson Bass.)

Backstory is a BALANCING ACT. It’s all about subtlety.

What NOT to do: info-dumping OR “idiot speech”

*Info-dumping is an insult to your reader.

The most valuable thing Jefferson brought to my attention was this: As the author, you WANT the reader to work harder to figure everything out. ENGAGE your readers by having them put together the pieces of the puzzle themselves.

Romance author Lynne Silver’s session titled “Letting Your Characters Write Your Book” was a lot of fun. Creating my characters and then getting to know them is one of my favorite parts of the writing process, but Silver definitely took this to the next level.

“Phenomenology” is the study of the development of human consciousness.
Basically, it’s all about how a person’s experiences shape their outlook on life.

So, your character’s favorite food, his childhood, his best/worst qualities, his family – how do these things shape his personality and his thoughts? How do these things contribute to your character’s internal belief system?

*Completing a character worksheet is especially helpful.

Kelly L. Stone’sbook_timetowrite session titled “Motivation and Mishaps: How to Keep Writing Despite All Obstacles” was what I needed to hear most.

We’re busy people. We have lives – school and family and jobs and other responsibilities that keep us from our writing.

But Stone is hard-core. She prompted me to look at myself objectively.

We LOOK for excuses. Distractions are a CHOICE. Ask yourself this question: How badly do you want it? (Whatever ‘it’ is: a finished novel, a revised novel, a published novel.)

Give yourself a writing schedule. Let your subconscious know that writing is important – writing is a PRIORITY.

  • Form habits and set goals.
  • Track your progress!
  • Find someone to hold you accountable.

This is what really resonated with me: Our thoughts are powerful. Stop feeding yourself negative thoughts. Take these negative thoughts and give them a positive spin.

*I bought a copy of Stone’s book Time to Write. Check it out.

Over lunch, I listened to keynote speaker Nancy Springer. She was both hilariously funny and inspiring.

The takeaway: Challenge yourself to do the things you think you can’t.

As I’m always seeking to become a better blogger, I was highly anticipating Shari Stauch’s session titled “It’s a Blog-Eat-Blog World: How to Find and Connect with Your Audience.”

Stauch pointed out the importance of guest blogging and also social media. And in order to generate more traffic, it’s essential to comment wisely on other blogs and sites.

I realized I can’t expect insightful comments on my own posts if I don’t even offer insightful comments on my favorite blogs. How often have I read a fantastic post by a blogger I admire but neglect to comment to say so? (Too many times to count, and I’m trying to get better at that.)

*Stauch is a contributor to Where Writers Win, a site dedicated to helping writers market themselves and increase their visibility. 

These were the highlights, for me, at least, of the 2014 Tallahassee Writer’s Conference. Already looking forward to next year! Hope this was helpful – feel free to share your thoughts!

2 thoughts on “Lessons learned from the Tallahassee Writer’s Conference

  1. Pingback: July Rewind & Review

  2. Pingback: 2014 End of Year Book Survey: Part 2

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