by Julie Glover
I'm cleaning my office.
Not that straightening up, mild decluttering we all do from time to time, but that deep dive of purging papers and files we don't need anymore, sorting through office supplies and tossing bad pens, and asking will I ever read that book on my shelf?
As part of Office Cleanse 2020, I discovered a fair amount of story ideas and conference notes written on various pads of paper. I decided to save space, type them up, and keep only the digital versions. And oh, the epiphanies I've had!
Do you have your own pile of conference or workshop notes? Typed or written? Stashed away? It's time to bring them out. Revisit them. Here are five reasons why you should!
1. You don't remember what was said.
Usually, I returned home from the conference, my head filled with information, my heart swelled from seeing and meeting friends, my body exhausted from travel and/or extra stimulation. Sometimes I typed up my notes, other times I didn't. Regardless, a few key points stuck out and got applied to my writing, and the rest got tucked into the back of my mind and a folder in my office. You may have done something similar.
But we spent money and time getting that information. We picked and chose which workshops we attended and received tailored information that could be useful—if only we remembered it.
Take a look back and jog your memory. Let your notes inform and inspire you once again.
2. You have different takeaways.
Much like a book that you read more than once, you take away something a little different when you revisit your old notes.
As I perused my papers, I was struck by points I didn't remember having an impact before. Perhaps I was so caught up in a presenter's Point #4 that I didn't give Point #6 a lot of thought. Or I read the notes then with an emphasis on different words or meanings.
Regardless, this time, I discovered takeaways I hadn't seen before that I can apply to my writing and to my career.
3. You see how far you've come.
One of the struggles of being a creative is always feeling like there's a finish line you've yet to reach. Whatever you achieve, you see a new goal ahead.
In the beginning, you just want to finish that first book. Then you want to place in a contest, get an agent, land a contract, or self-publish the book. Pretty soon, it's the next book, the marketing campaign, film rights, foreign rights, what-have-you. We feel pressured to do The Next Thing, if not from our own selves then from our readers—a nice problem to have, but still a challenge.
It's important to breathe now and then, look back, and feel good about the progress you've made. As I perused my conference notes, it became clearer how far I've actually come. I instinctively use a lot of the writing craft advice.
Feel good about what you have used already and how far you've come.
4. You made useful notes to yourself.
In one of the conference classes I attended, the speaker had us do a writing exercise to apply what we were learning. My paragraph was meh overall, but it had one fantastic phrase. I scooped that baby up and dropped it into my current work in progress!
But that hasn't been my only find: I've discovered character notes, story ideas, and resources I wanted to check out.
You may have jotted down ideas to yourself that you didn't do enough or anything with. Sift through your notes, and you may find nuggets of writing gold.
5. What didn't apply then applies now.
Some of the advice you soaked up wasn't applicable to you at that time, but now it's what you need. A fair amount of the marketing advice fell into that category for me. I hadn't self-published yet, but now I have.
Not every conference note stood the test of time—for example, Amazon algorithms change—but a surprising amount still holds up. Good writing and good business practices have some core themes that remain the same.
Cull your conferences notes for viewpoints, ideas, and data that works for where you are now in your writing journey and the direction you're moving. ake what you already learned and re-purpose it to today by going through your old conference and workshop notes. You'll never know what treasures you could find until you seek them out.
Have you attended writing conferences or workshops that stood out? Have you done an office cleanse like mine and found a goldmine you'd forgotten about? Please share the wealth down in the comments section!
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Julie Glover is an award-winning author of mysteries and young adult fiction. She also writes supernatural suspense under the pen name Jules Lynn. Her most recent release is Curse of the Night, book four in the Muse Island series.
When not writing, she collects boots, practices rampant sarcasm, and advocates for good grammar and the addition of the interrobang as a much-needed punctuation mark.
Julie is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.
Top Image by Pexels from Pixabay.