As the year begins, I reflect on notes I took at conferences and seminars. Last summer, I attended the SCBWI National Conference in LA
Each Key Note Speaker titled their speech and then proceeded to share amazing words of wisdom, tips and techniques. It was inspiring to hear of their successes as well as of their insecurities.
Karen Cushman, author of Catherine Called Birdy and The Loud Silence of Francine Green, among others, offered these nuggets on writing in general. Each point listed below, she illustrated with examples of how she would achieve each it.
(Parenthetical information, if offered by me, is for clarification purposes.)
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities
Pay no attention to the rules, once you know them.
TIPS FOR SUCCESS
1. Show Up
-Demark your day and your writing. (She meant actually find a time and place to sit and write).
-Slow down, let ideas grow
-Give power to thoughts
-Write rather than fantasize
(Showing up not just physical but spiritually, ready to let the ideas find their way on to the paper).
2. Pay Attention
-Look and listen- stuff yourself with senses and words (Think about the following themes).
-Love versus Hate
-Excites versus Infuriates
-Stories come from paying attention, so you’ll be ready for your muse (when it shows up).
3. Tell the Truth
-I love research. It gives me a place to stand with facts. (Note, her novels are historical fiction).
-I use 10% of what I find, but the other 90% gives my story strength.
-There’s an emotional connection in the truth.
-So tunnel below the obvious and come back to your words.
-Things that we are morally certain of, like kindness, and evil, love and loneliness, honor and expediency, peace and war, are things I write about because I need a book to be hopeful.
Publications are only one of the reasons to write. We write because we are writers.
4. Write What You Can
-Do it your way.
-Blaze your trail.
-Trust yourself and then you will write.
-Words are sacred… if you get the right ones in the right order, you will then have the responsibility of that dream.
(I think she meant if you write a powerful story that moves your audience, you then have a responsibility to those words and to that story and that’s a sacred feeling).
Karen Cushman was vibrant and poised, her advice attainable. I was inspired. I wish the same for you.