Saturday, June 30, 2012

What I Learned at WIFYR

Sorry I've been absent the last two weeks. I've been off island, in Utah, at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop. In a lot of ways, it was my best experience at the workshop that I've ever had. Here's the four most important things I learned this year:

1. Online Social Networking: It's not about you.

Elissa Cruz, one of the founders of the blog, From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors, gave a great lecture about building your online platform. The main thing I took away from it was that if you are online only to promote yourself, everyone will go away. It is not about you. Instead, think of yourself as part of a team where everyone can win if we help each other. Find the good stuff and share it.

2. Embrace the Delete Key

This one comes from Cynthia Leitich Smith. Apparently she's been known to write the first draft of a novel, then DELETE THE WHOLE THING. Now this sounds insane, until I remember that the less I've revised a piece, the better response I get from my test readers. So next time maybe instead of revising, I'll re-draft and see what happens.

3. Give Stories Time

I took a morning workshop class led by author Tim Wynne-Jones. One of the most valuable things I learned from him was to give stories time. Sometimes you have to leave a story in the drawer for years before you figure out what it needs, and then one day it comes to you. So that's when you pull it out, finish it up, and send it off.

4. Do Sound Checks Before Any Vocal Performance

With the agony still fresh in my mind, I'm not going to say anything more about this one.

But I do want to say a big THANK-YOU to all the authors, the editors, and the agent who so generously gave of their time and shared their knowledge with us at WIFYR. Best. Workshop. Ever.

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