I took a bold step this year and decided not to attend the NE-SCBWI conference. I love this conference, and making the choice to miss out on inspiring lectures, helpful lessons, and the fun of communing with my fellow writer’s was not easy. But here is where I was mentally.
I was not lacking in inspiration. I had writing projects in various stages from tidy third and fourth drafts, to word files with a few phrases of an idea, to a synopsis lacking middle grade novel that were all waiting my time and attention.
I was not lacking in motivation. For months I had been drifting off to sleep thinking about those projects and waking up wondering if today would finally be the day I would find time to dig into them. Driving in the car, I’m thinking of one of those word files. Waiting for my son’s lacrosse practice to let out, I’m wondering about the third draft of a picture book. I have not lathered my hair in the shower in weeks without ruminating on a plot path of a new story.
My desk is piled with notebooks from prior conferences stuffed with craft improving handouts, epiphany inducing notes highlighted with stars, writing prompts that actually make my fingers itch, and sticky-note worthy quotes from authors and editors.
I had inspiration, motivation, and tips and tricks galore. What I lacked was activation.
I had fallen into the trap of talking and learning about my craft without actually practicing it. At a certain point, you need to take a break from learning and apply what you have learned. You need to write. So that is what I did this spring. I poured over those great notes and applied suggestions on voice, editing, and character to three picture book manuscripts. I employed those fantastic writing prompts to flush out characters and plot in two developing picture book ideas. I still need to write the synopsis for my middle grade novel, but now those motivational quotes feel more like congratulatory toasts.
Don’t be afraid to take a pause from learning.
I recommend that you shut your door, quiet your brain, and let yourself write. Relax and know that you have skills, that you have worked on your craft, that your mind is open and ready to be creative. Use all your time, energy, and focus to create.
The conferences, the lessons, the writing community will be there – but take a moment to just be you and your writing. A productive pause, to apply all the knowledge that you have collected, can be the most rewarding conference you have ever attended.
You, your knowledge, and your desire to write – a private conference for three.
Have a great conference.