Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Five Things That Followed Me Home From The Gold Conference

From the wandering mind of Tamela Buhrke

After returning home from the Gold Conference on Sunday, I dutifully sat down at my computer and turned all my learning into powerful prose and I have never looked back... heh. Okay, you caught me. What actually happened was that I passed put from exhaustion, then spent Monday tearfully going through my novel; wondering how I could have ever written such rubbish. Why wasn't my inciting incident in the first couple pages? Do I have a strong character arch or a compelling voice? When would I find the time for revisions? Will I ever get this writing thing right?

Then, I had a panic attack.

Tuesday morning I cleared my head with a long bike ride, then sat down to look at everything again. I went through my notes and formulated a plan to implement all my new learning. This is how it looks so far:

1. Organize & Prioritize - Becky Clark's session on The Faster I Go, The Behinder I Get was a life-saver. I was freaking out because I wasn't sure how I'd find the time to get everything done. So I followed her advice and listed all the things I needed to do and then mapped it out on a calendar. I blocked off the time I needed for writing and informed the people in my life that I would not be available for meetings, tweetings, phone calls or work-related projects during my writing time. So far, so good.

2. Systematize - After rereading my notes from Robin Perini's session on Layering Complexity, I decided to go through my novel and summarize each chapter—highlighting the plot points. Next week I plan to look over those summaries to include plot turns more readily, avoiding the bog-like feeling at the middle, and giving the story more intensity.

3. Clarify - To ensure that my characters have greater vibrancy and consistency of behavior, I will use what I learned in Morgan Leigh's The Writers' Guide to Body Language to define my characters personality types and list what traits and examples of behavior they will display under specific circumstances. This will make their behavior more realistic and believable.

4. Pitchify (A word I just created.) - Several presenters stated that if you are having a hard time with a pitch or query, it could mean that you don't have a strong plot or inciting incident. So yesterday I wrote the pitch for my novel and realized the inciting incident doesn't have the va va voom that I am looking for. Time to rewrite.

5. Detoxify - Obviously, if a bit of information on writing technique sent me into such a panic, then it is time to clear out all these self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. There was a session on the emotional pitfalls of writers, called Here There Be Monsters: Writers Beware by Margie Lawson. Guess what? I missed it. Hmm... can I still order that one on audio?

So now I am prepared to implement my new skills. How are you doing? Feeling confident? Ready to write? If not, put together a plan that works for you.

Because we're all waiting to see your next great masterpiece.


Giles Hash said...

That's a lot to take away from the conference. I don't know if I could put it so concisely, but I took away a lot of knowledge, as well. I'm glad you're getting your book under control :D

Tamela Buhrke said...

There is so much to learn at these conferences! This time I found myself having so many "aha!" moments. It was very exciting, but it can be overwhelming when you come home and try to implement. Thanks for the encouragement.

Chris Devlin said...

Excellent breaking down of what you learned and what to do next. Like you, I collapsed and freaked out, then got up and went back to work. Great post, thanks!

Dean K Miller said...

Thanks for the follow-up notes/instructions. Sounds like you, and many others I know who atteneded, had a great time.

Tamela Buhrke said...

Chris, it's nice to know I wasn't alone!

Dean, it was indeed a wonderful and informative conference. I met so many people! Now it is time to implement.


Kay Theodoratus said...

Great check list.

Marlena Cassidy said...

So much information to come back with! It seems like you're putting it to good use though, Patricia. We could all learn something from your list.

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, that's gotta be the best task list I've ever seen someone come up with after attending the Gold. Great job, Tamela! I have CDs of Robin's workshop, and I hope to listen to them later today. Good luck on your revisions. :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I was just pretty darned excited that I had my inciting incident on the first page. :)

As far as sleep is concerned, I'm still trying to get caught up.

Kristin Barrett said...

loved this post Tamela, I am feeling the same way and did many of the same things this week. I had so many wonderful "a-ha" moments last weekend and I have lots to do, but it is nice to know I am not alone. I enjoyed meeting you Sat night at dinner. :)