By Laura Drake
Who hasn’t made a vow on New Year’s Eve (maybe after a couple of glasses of champagne) that this is your year to get in shape. You join a gym, you get a personal trainer, you start jogging. And its hard work; muscle only builds when you work it.
Writing is like that too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a New York Times bestseller, or trying to chisel your first novel out of stone. Everyone needs to exercise their creative muscles to get, or stay, on top.
I warned my husband when I started this journey ten years ago, that I’d need to invest in my education. Every year, I spend some money set aside for that purpose.
Two years ago, I attended the RWA National Conference in DC. It was a tough taskmaster; to bed at 3, then getting up early to get into business attire for a full day of seminars, and pitching. It taught me rock-steady nerves, belief in myself, and that I’m not the only one sitting at a computer for huge chunks of time, trying to pull something out of my head and get it down on paper.
I came back with a renewed sense of purpose and the picture in my head of myself in an a little black dress and glittery jewelry, climbing the steps to accept my Golden Heart.
I worked those muscles all year. Armed with a new book and confidence in my newfound stamina, entered the Golden Heart. The results weren't pretty.
But I didn’t give up. I continued to show up, every day. I took online classes. I attended special workshops. I went to local mini-conferences and lectures. Then one day, I heard a new name. Margie Lawson. I looked her up online. She was conducting an online Deep Edits class soon. Hey, editing was a muscle group I’d been ignoring. So I signed up.
It turned out to be a Marine Boot Camp compared to my normal workout. Weeks of hard work: amping up emotions, cutting clichés, and learning rhetorical devices to write fresh.
It was brutal. But my crit partners were amazed at the improvement in my writing. Even I could see the difference.
The book I cranked out the next year was miles ahead of the one before it. It won contests. I was proud.
I raved about Margie. So when Fae Rowan saw her Masters Immersion Class offered on the Brenda Novak Diabetes Auction, she bid on it. And won. She asked me if I wanted to go with her. I had money my education fund, and free airline miles, so I signed up.
We traveled 2,000 feet above Boulder, Colorado to Margie’s imposing log home (formerly owned by Joan Johnston.) There, I met Darcy Crowder, a fellow RWA-WFer. Remember that name – you’re going to see it in print. She’s good!
Three intense days followed. I’m talking 14 hour, Margie Lawson-energizer-bunny days. Even the afternoon we went to Boulder to shop, she met one-on-one with us to review scenes in a coffee shop. And we had a handout to go over at dinner in an amazing restaurant (pictured here.)
I’m home now, editing that second book. Whatever you do to get in shape --weights, personal trainer, or boot camp, do something to improve your writing this year.
Want to see my authorpezius muscle? Okay, so they’re not Nora-sized yet, but dang it, I’m going to be published this year!
Are you with me?? What are your writing workout goals this year?