Archive | May, 2013

Work Hard, Rest Hard.

8 May

I’m home from DFWCon, which means my whirlwind month-of-AWESOME has come to a close. Between a workshop led by one of my favorite authors, an out-of-state trip to visit family, and a weekend spent hanging out with new and long-loved writer friends…well, I’m a little tired.

Factor in the emotional highs (“They like my project!”) and lows (“My query needs pruning, just like most people’s! Epic sadface! I wanted PERFECTION ON THE FIRST TRY!!!”)—and the fact that I’ve spent every free minute working on my project for longer than I can remember—it’s more accurate to say I’m a lot tired.

I’ve been thinking about one of the tips Corey and I shared in our class on Saturday:

Work hard, rest hard.

It’s not easy.

Here’s what I want to do: get up at 5:30 every morning, like I often do, and work until my baby gets up at 8. Pore over notes from the awesome classes this weekend, read craft books until my eyes bleed. (I could do without the eyes-bleeding part, but you get the picture.) Dive back into my manuscript and—*waves magic wand*—infuse it with BRILLIANCE.

And I will do all of those things.

But not yet.

Here’s what I’m going to do:

STEP ONE: Sleep. Because I must. I’ve fallen asleep at 9pm for two nights in a row, and it has been absolutely glorious. My body, my mind, my heart: they need to be re-set before I go pushing them to their limits again. And, oh, will I push them, because writing a novel takes discipline and dedication.

STEP TWO: I’m going to read—*gasp!*—for fun. I’m a very all-or-nothing reader. Once I get into a book, my writing discipline tends to go out the window. Over time, I’ve learned I have to be purposeful about not starting a book when I’m trying to meet a deadline. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve had a reading week, so this week, I’m chilling with books. Other people’s books. (Specifically: two Sara Zarr books + SERAPHINA + ELEANOR AND PARK.) I am always inspired when I read knock-your-socks-off books, and these come highly recommended.

STEP THREE: Enjoy my family. My husband and I tend to get excited about our projects, so much so that our evenings are, like, brew a pot of coffee and work-work-work. (He’s creating this amazing website for writers—it’s a social media site for writers to track their goals and progress while connecting with others who are doing the same thing.) While I’m sure we’ll still do a bit of work, it’s nice to be more relaxed about it. I’ve been a little too set-the-timer-and-FOCUS militant, lately. Balance is a good thing.

After all of these things, I will (*hopefully*) be well-rested and ready to dive back in to working on my project. A concept I’ve been dwelling on lately, in regards to rest, is this:

Rest to be restored, not to disengage.

Though I’m taking a break from the actual work of shaping words into a complete novel, I’m not disengaging my mind. Quality sleep, enjoying life with friends and family, reading to be inspired—these things are all so, so important when it comes to nurturing our craft. My project-specific ideas will be simmering on a back-burner during all of this. When it’s time to sit back down to work, I’ll be refreshed and restored, ready to FINISH this thing.

And I am excited.

A Whirlwind of Exciting Things

3 May

Life has been a whirlwind lately, and it isn’t slowing down today: in just over two hours, I’ll be sipping a latte as Corey Wright—friend and crit partner extraordinaire—and I head up to the DFW Writers’ Conference. This will be my third year attending, and Corey’s second.

Two years ago, I had barely come out of that first-trimester-of-pregnancy brain fog, and was lucky to be vertical.


Last year’s group of #Twitterbloc girls at DFWCon ❤

Last year, I was still living through the sleep-deprived newborn phase of things, and was mostly excited to meet my ten(ish?) close Twitter friends (collectively known as #Twitterbloc) in person.

This year? I’m excited about a lot of things.

I’m excited because my manuscript-reading commitments slowed down last fall, and I’ve been on an insanely productive writing streak ever since.

Also exciting? I’m fresh off of an incredible workshop experience at The Writing Barn in Austin, Texas, led by the talented and über-amazing Sara Zarr (author of HOW TO SAVE A LIFE and THE LUCY VARIATIONS—which comes out on Tuesday—along with several other books you’ll want to add to your to-read list). If you ever have the opportunity to attend anything at The Writing Barn, I suggest you do it—I’ve attended a lecture and a workshop now, and both have been wonderful. After this whirlwind month settles down, I plan to write a whole post devoted to the Sara Zarr workshop experience. Suffice it to say, for now, I came out of the weekend with my tool kit brimming over with the wisdom and encouragement people kept putting inside it.

Aside from seeing some of my #Twitterbloc girls again—and a long-time in-person friend who’s gotten pretty serious about writing ever since I moved away (WHY DID I MOVE?!)—I’m looking forward to DFWCon because there are lots of classes I think will be useful to me. And—*gulp*—Corey and I are actually going to lead one of them.

If you’re at the conference, our class is called 60 Tips in 60 Minutes, and it’ll be a mix of presentation and participation, covering tips on how to stay organized, motivated, and disciplined while working on your various projects. We’ll also spend time on creative ways to use tools like Scrivener (and good old-fashioned index cards and post-its!) for drafting and revision. If you’re at the conference, our class is at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon, Room 6! We’d love to meet you.

Well. It seems I can’t avoid packing forever, so off I go! Can’t wait to see old friends, meet new ones, and pack even more stuff into my writerly tool kit. Happy writing and reading to you all!