I promised several people that I would write about the “Sharing Your Hope Workshop” I attended at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and here it is two weeks later – and I’m still trying to sort through what I want to say.
Part of the problem is that I went with some expectations that were off-track. I carried lots of old manuscripts with me thinking it would be a time to pick one out, dust it off, and get wonderful feedback that would turn it into something ready for the market. That didn’t happen.
But what did happen was so much better. After I got woke up good, that is… I struggled to stay awake the first evening after getting up in the wee hours of the morning on not enough sleep and spending the day in airports wrapped around two flights. It was still a struggle the second day, but I got some half-decent notes and some great handouts to keep me from losing too much.
The leaders, Kristi Holl and Paula Morrow, are awesome writers who had so much to share with us about what it takes to become a real writer. Wishy-washy wannabe feelings aren’t enough! Writers can sit around thinking about what they want to write, but if anything is going to come of it they have to get on with writing it. Facebook and networking have their place, but we have to learn to guard against letting them take over our time to the point that we never get around to writing the things we dream about writing.
The underlying theme of the workshop was to encourage us to write good books that offer spiritual hope. We were given many tips on how to accomplish this without sounding preachy. We were given ideas about developing strong characters that were believable and techniques for developing plots with tension.
Kristi Holl shared many tips about caring for oneself to assure that we preserve sufficient time and energy for our writing. She also discussed the importance of setting priorities and boundaries for ourselves so we don’t allow others to sap our energy. We discussed the difference between selfishness and self-care. Her discussions were supplemented with handouts and book lists.
Much was said about the benefits of aspiring to become published through traditional publishers instead of self-publishing. I have been leaning in that direction already, as I have become worn out by trying to wear too many hats. So I have set a new goal for myself to start submitting my work to traditional publishers, to keep writing new material, and to stop spinning my wheels trying to market my self-published books when 99.9999% of the world has never heard of them or me.
I have already ordered several of the books that were recommended and have begun reading from the ones that have come in the mail so far. My budget is small, but fortunately I was able to order most of them as used books on Amazon keeping my costs down. I have a special place on my desk for these books so they will stay at my fingertips as I work my way through them.
I am eager to become more professional with my writing day by day. The most important component in determining the value of this workshop for me is in my determination and self-discipline to put these concepts into practice and to make measurable progress daily.