Tag Archives: education

What’s Up Wednesday

ButtonSmallNoBorderWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme, started by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, which helps readers and writers touch base with blog friends to let them know what’s up. Join in by visiting their blogs and signing in on the widget.

What I’m Writing: While battling weather and fences taken down by weather and prepping to begin the school year, I managed to revise five more chapters. I also spent time on the series bible which was fun and productive.

What I’m Reading: I’m reading Unseen by Karen Slaughter. Never disappointing but moving slow for me as my medication puts me to sleep before I get much read. Hopefully, healthier days are ahead. 🙂

Goals for Next Week:

ready set write buttonFor this week, August 15 – 21, I begin classes so I hope to manage to rework my writing schedule so that I am able to maintain revision as I also enter professor mode. Goal: ten chapters.

Good luck to all the writers setting goals for Ready. Set. WRITE! this week. Twitter hashtag #readysetwrite.

What are your writing goals this week? What do you do to motivate yourself?


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Conventions, Classes, Degrees, Oh, My!

My dad once said I would be in school forever. He wasn’t referencing my inability to learn but my total love of it. And he was right. I became a teacher so I have been “in school” my entire life, either behind the desk or in front of it. The best thing about being a writer is that it feeds into my curiosity as well. Every day as I sit down to write I’m driven by inquisitiveness as all writers are. It is what sends us to the internet on research missions that last hours on end. Regardless of what people say, those trips to Pinterest are research, right?

A lot of people question the importance of education for writers. Let’s take these one at a time because each is unique. Conventions are a huge thing for writers for a couple of reasons. They provide opportunities for learning, marketing, and networking. Writing can be a pretty lonely proposition so take advantage of these chances as much as possible. Maximize by making sure that you choose conferences based on price, location, and offerings. These basics are important in determining how best to spend those hard-earned author dollars. Make the use of your writing connections. For instance, our group attends conferences together so we are able to split a lot of the costs. Expand your circle of influence by meeting new people and fostering those relationships beyond the conference. Today’s technology makes that possible no matter where you live.

Most communities offer classes in writing, plus these days the online offerings are endless. Again, it’s important to research before selecting something. Local universities often offer these types of classes. In person classes are good for meeting writers in your region, especially if you are wanting to start a critique group. A variety of sources offer online classes. They range from free to holy cow! Make sure you’ll get the most for your money AND that the instructor is reputable. If you belong to a critique group, share what you learn in these with each other. It’s another way of stretching your money.

Not every writer wants or needs a degree. It doesn’t guarantee publication. What are the reasons for seeking a degree then? I think those are as unique as there are reasons people write. For me, I had a couple of reasons I chose the degree route. As an educator, the degree offered me an opportunity to teach writing at the university level something I’d wanted to do all my life. Another perk of the program? I’d written most of my life, and I loved doing it. I’d written a couple of novels before I ever considered the degree. I’d never accomplished a short story successfully though. And I wondered if I was missing something in my writer’s tool chest. Spending four semesters with accomplished writers as my professors was exactly what I needed. Some writers will thrive in that environment. Others won’t.

University of Nebraska MFA in Writing

University of Nebraska
MFA in Writing

Of the three, a degree is the most personal choice. The first two are things every writer should do. But the degree is not for everyone. However, as a writer, never stop asking yourself questions. That curiosity feeds your art.

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Filed under The Life, Writer's Conferences, Writing

Peace and Good Wishes

I’m traveling this week which means no time to post, again. However, it would have been difficult anyway. The events of last Friday weigh heavily on all of us now. As a veteran educator, the emotions won’t stop. Each day I find a new one. The following is certainly not a new saying; it’s been around and we’ve all seen it. Now, perhaps we can focus on living it as much as possible. Have a peaceful holiday. See you on the other side. The one you feed

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No, Not Armageddon

It’s not the apocalypse either. I missed my post yesterday because it’s the end of the semester, and I’m buried in grading papers and finals. Sigh. I’m also trying to stay on top of requested edits of The G.A.P. Project. I’m hoping you’ll forgive me and to assist with that: crazywriter

It’s how I feel, and I’m sure many of you share this emotion. How do you cope when it suddenly all becomes too much?


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Spinning for Writers

Exercise is vital to the health of our bodies. Everyone knows it whether they act on it or not. We know that well toned muscles are more effective and a strong heart can handle more stress and a healthy immune system can fight off disease. Because of this a lot of us are fanatic about our routines whether we go to the gym or the basement treadmill or the high school track. We walk, run, lift weights, use high dollar equipment, all to keep the machines we need running well.

Yet, we tend to overlook another form of exercise just as vital for our health over the long-term: brain exercise. Perhaps, because we are so busy in our daily lives, and it feels like our poor brains are getting overworked as it is. Give the gray matter a break already, right? No. The thinking machine needs those workouts as much as the body and for the same reasons.  The stress and strain of our busy working lives plays havoc with our neural pathways. The brain needs variety in its workouts and like your physical exercise, consistency is key to seeing the most gain. That’s as important as the workout itself.

In a world of increasing concerns over Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, people are more aware than before of what happens to the aging brain. The sad reality is, like our bodies, the brain can age prematurely due to factors like diet, exercise, and stress. Dementia patients are often given mental games to help combat memory loss. Why wait? Give your brain the exercise it needs.

As writers the brain is an important tool and requires the same fit shape as a boxer’s body. We cannot afford flab or laxity or in more appropriate language; we can’t afford for our synapses to misfire. Luckily, artists have a host of ways to exercise the brain.

1. Get outside of your artistic mode – if you’re a writer, paint or draw, sing or dance, select any other form to express yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’re any good at it. The purpose is for the brain to engage and extend itself in new ways.

2. Leave your usual environment – If you normally write indoors, go out. If the weather is nice, enjoy it. If not, seek a library or museum. Let a new place set your juices flowing in new directions.

3. Prompt yourself – Write to a prompt. We know this is a good thing to do, but we seldom do it. Set a goal for yourself to write to a prompt once a week. Then, reward yourself in some way when it’s done. A Starbuck’s Chai Tea Latte or a hot fudge sundae.

4. Serve others – An excellent thing we can do for our brains is to get our thoughts off ourselves. Serve at a soup kitchen or deliver meals to the elderly or read to the sick. It doesn’t matter what your service is as long as it isn’t about you. You’ll find your brain excited by the change of scenery and pace.

5. Serve yourself – You aren’t just a writer. You’re a mom/dad, child, sibling, husband/wife, employee and the list goes on. Your responsibilities could strangle you and probably do. Set a goal to give yourself one hour a week that is just yours. It’s your hour away from everyone and everything. No phones, no texts, no emails, no internet. That quiet is as important for your brain as the challenge of new knowledge. At the end of your hour, thank yourself. I know it sounds silly, but you and I know you don’t hear it enough. Allow your brain to thank you for all you’re doing to keep it fit and healthy for the writing years to come.

What do you do to exercise your brain?

Further Reading



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Reading as a Writer

I stopped enjoying reading in grad school. Why? I used to read as a reader, getting sucked into the world of the book and enjoying every minute. Total relaxation. Then, I spent two years studying my craft. I quit reading the authors I used to read. I no longer enjoyed their books. I couldn’t have put my finger on it; I just didn’t. I read differently now. Every book is a lesson in craft.

I still have authors I enjoy, and I will read all their books. But now they teach me. One of my favorites has a new book out, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Have you ever picked up the wrong drink? You have an iced tea and you pick up hubby’s Coke by mistake? That OMG reaction your mouth has to that unexpected taste is what I am getting from this book. This is a good writer, but this book is driving me nuts. I want to tell my inner writer to shut up and let the reader just enjoy but…

We’ve all been told there are rules for a reason, BUT breaking them is also done for a reason. I’ve seen accomplished writers break rules and paid close attention in the hope that I could replicate that success. (still waiting) I’m a child of the sixties so I’m all about rule breaking but trying to break as many as possible in one book is too much for even a talented writer.

Some lessons a writer learns in reading are more painful than others. Such as, even our favorite writers, even those gifted in craft, make missteps. Has a favorite author ever let your inner reader down? (No names, please)


Filed under The Life, Writing

The Sweet Hereafter

A conference brings this storm swell of creative juices, and you’ll return home convinced that you are ready to conquer anything publishing throws your way. That glow will last if you’re lucky, 24 hours. A part of every conference prep should include planning for a return from the wonderful world of nothing but writers and writing to that world of diapers, bottles, teenage drivers and angst, or cranky hubbies. Whatever your daily world encompasses, it’s all waiting for you when you leave that sheltered world of the “conference”.

The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself emotionally for this return to your ‘normal world’ as Christopher Vogler describes it in The Writer’s Journey. My critique group has done this and we’ve learned new things every time. Here are suggestions for returning from the conference:

1. Hit the ground running when you get home by making time to email the contacts you made at the conference. Don’t wait. Don’t give them or yourself time to forget. If you followed advice, you wrote something memorable on the back of the business cards you collected.

2. Share what you learned. If you have a local group of writers you work with, share what you learned with them. If not, use your blog or website as a host for educating others about Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (or your conference) and writing. If your entire group attended (as our group does), it is always a good idea to debrief after conferences. Go over what went well, what didn’t, what inspired you, what frustrated you, etc. As a group, we attend different sessions to maximize our attendance, then we share what we learned with each other.

3. When you enjoy a conference and find it worthwhile, spread the word! Let others in on what’s worthwhile about it. Give them publicity. We’re all in this together so help each other out.

4. We have a new goal for this conference. Since this is our third year, we wanted to do something special. Stay tuned to the Novel Clique blog for interviews with writer attendees at OWFI 2012.

5. Final evaluation: upon returning you need to do a final run down of the experience. Was the conference a good one for you? Just as you did when selecting a conference return to those important questions:

a. Location: Was the location good for you? Price certainly feeds into this these days because of the price of gas.

b. Genre: Did you find the things you needed for what you write? Were there agents who represent what you write?

c. Price: Consider the costs of everything from travel to hotel to food to cost of the conference. Was it cost-effective for you?

d. Presenters: Were the presenters good? Were they speaking about things of importance to you as a writer? Did you return with more than you left home with?

Once you’ve answered those questions you’ll know whether you want to attend that conference again or not. For us, after attending OWFI, all those answers were good ones.

What do you want to return from a conference having accomplished?

Be sure to check out Natasha’s post on what to do before the conference and Leatrice’s upcoming post on what to do during.


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