Why Attend a Writing Workshop?

 

Writingworkshop-2

As a writer, or someone who is interested in writing, you have probably seen advertisements (like our own!) for writing workshops. You may be wondering: What is a writing workshop? What do you get out of it? Why go to a writing workshop?

Writing workshops can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and serve to support authors on their journey toward writing and publishing a book. They provide a variety of information, support, consultation, feedback, encouragement, and networking.

This is usually very different from a writing class. A writing class is prescriptive, teaching writing techniques and styles within one or a variety of genres. Generally, the writing exercises are assigned according to the topic. The beauty of writing workshops are they are tailored to YOUR writing. You get to work on your book, at whatever stage it is in. You will received feedback and input from professionals in the writing and publishing industry that will give you the next steps you need to take to get your book where you want it to go.

Writingworkshop-5

There are a number of components to writing a book and getting it published. Many authors who come to Inspira or attend our workshops assume that the right steps to creating a book are A) write the book, B) get feedback, C) make corrections and work towards publication. However, for most people, step B comes WAY too late.

For example, if a novel writer discovers after completing the first draft that a character is not believable, she may have to go back to square one and rewrite the entire book. Or a business writer comes to a workshop and realizes he should have been marketing his book during the entire year he has been writing it. A writing workshop gives you a recipe for writing, tailored to you, so you can know what’s ahead, and make sure your writing process is the most productive and highest quality it can be.

Writing workshops offer a short and inexpensive (when you consider both the cost of editing and hours spent re-working) boost to your writing. They can be invaluable for new and seasoned writers alike. Here are some more reasons why:

Guidance and Information: There is much you can learn from reading books and online sources, but a good facilitator can direct you to areas you need to focus on and answer your specific questions. At Inspira, we are experienced in the worlds of editing and publishing and so we are able to offer advice directing from the field.

Networking: Workshops are an excellent place to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and others. Never underestimate the power of networking.

Motivation and Inspiration: Writing can be a long and lonely progress. And, it’s not only the writing, but the marketing, networking, agent searching, and everything else that comes with it. A good workshop will remind you why you started, encourage you to continues, and give you the know-how to do so. Ideally, you should leave a workshop feeling inspired to finish your book!

If you are a writer, don’t sell yourself short. Get the tools you need (as soon as possible) to make your writing a success. Build community and seek out professionals who can guide you. Workshops are a great way to dip your foot into the water. Perhaps you just have an idea for a book; a workshop is the perfect place to learn how to begin and succeed. Perhaps you are part way through writing and feel in a rut; get encouragement and tips to keep going! Or maybe you have finished a book but want to re-work it yourself before sending it to an editor. We cannot stress this enough: don’t edit in the dark. You don’t want to spend hours and hours reworking your book without knowing the full scope of what the reworking should look like.

If we have convinced you of the importance of writing workshops, and you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming one-day workshop on January 28th!  We think this workshop is the perfect place to kickstart your book. After spending years working with authors and finding ourselves repeating the same information over and over, we decided to condense this information and offer it to aspiring authors to help them in their journeys to writing.

We hope to see you there!

You can register for Inspira’s one-day workshop “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” by accessing our Facebook Event page or emailing Kerry@inspiralit.com.

Alternative Narrative Stuctures

If you have ever watched a crime show or read a mystery novel, you have probably experienced a story that begins in medias res. The phrase literally means “into the middle of things” and in literature refers to a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This plot structure is wonderful for grabbing the reader’s attention and bypassing exposition, and works best with action-heavy narratives.

Many thriller TV shows use this method. The episode begins with action, the crime is taking place! Then the story flashes backward to before the crime, provides background information, and then moves forward as the detective tries to solve the case.

This technique is commonly used in best sellers because it creates an immediate hook. The readers are drawn ‘max. The readers are invested in the climax from the beginning and now must see what led to this point and what happens after.

in-medias-res-final_9697
Photo courtesy of TVtropes.org

Another plus to in medias res is that it forces the author to be creative with exposition. Exposition is necessary, but can often be dull and obvious. When the first few chapters of a book are filled with paragraphs of exposition or unrealistic dialogue for the soul purpose of giving information, the reader is easily bored. Beginning with the climax forces the writer to either use flashbacks, creative dialogue, or nonlinear narrative. This helps liven up necessary exposition, plus, the readers are already hooked!

Create Suspense by Giving Away the Ending

Another way to secure the reader’s interest is to ask the question, “How is this going to happen?” rather than, “What is going to happen?” Often, novels will gear up for a surprise ending such as the death of the main character. However, sometimes it creates more suspense to tell the reader what is going to happen and leave the reader wondering how.

I recently read a book that began with the main character telling the reader that he kills his best friend. However, as I got to know the characters I could not image why he would do such a thing. By giving away the ending, the author created suspense because the whole time I was looking for clues and any indications towards the inevitable ending.

While these two narrative techniques do not work for every novel, they are a good reminder for writers to be creative with their narratives. Plan the novel out linearly—from exposition, to climax, to resolution—then play around with different ways to build suspense and engage the reader. In medias res might not work for your novel, but it may give you some ideas for how to break up exposition and create inciting action. Are there snippets of information you can feed your reader to increase suspense? Could you make use of flashbacks or flash-forwards? Don’t be afraid to try something new; intriguing narratives make for good reading!

This post written by Assistant Editor Kerry Wade.

Protecting Your Work with a Copyright

copyright

Your book is written and in print, hooray! Now you’re done, right? Not so fast. Before you’re off to the races with your marketing and distribution, you want to make sure you protect your work through copyright.

Copyright protects the intellectual rights of both published and unpublished works communicated in any tangible medium of expression (e.g., books, paintings, songs, software programs, etc.) from the moment they are created. It is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and is not dependent on being granted from any authority; it is not necessary to “apply” for a copyright. What you do need to do is register it in order to establish the work as yours and to protect you from others using, appropriating, or profiting from it without your permission. It is not required that you register your copyright; it is completely voluntary. Registration of your copyright is simply a service provided to you by the U.S. Library of Congress. If there were ever a dispute about your rights to your intellectual property, your copyright registration would be on the public record, and proof that you are the creator of that work.

Note that you cannot copyright the title of your book. What you may be interested in, in that case, is a trademark, which can protect words, phrases, symbols, or logos, or designs. (Trademark registration can be a lengthy and expensive process and requires an attorney.)

How to Register Your Copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office, a branch of the Library of Congress, is physically located in the James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, D.C. However, in this wonderful electronic age in which we live you will access it by their online location at http://www.copyright.gov/. This is the least expensive and easiest way to establish your copyright. To register, you will be required to provide:

  • a completed copyright application,
  • a (nonrefundable) filing fee, and
  • a (nonreturnable) copy or copies of your book, usually electronic

Simply set up your account online to get started, and then follow the prompts to register your book and pay by credit card. Generally speaking, most online filers receive their certificate within nine months or earlier.

It is still possible to register your copyright traditionally (manually), although the Copyright Office is starting to phase out this option, and it is more expensive. You can download a copy of the form on the website, fill it out, and send it in with your payment and a hard copy of your book.

Though perhaps tedious, registering your copyright is not a complicated process and shouldn’t be intimidating. If you fail to complete it, your book will still be copyrighted. However, if you don’t file your forms forms and pay your filing fee, your copyright will not be registered. And it’s the registration that counts if there’s ever a dispute about your intellectual rights to your book.

So, once you’ve finished your book, don’t neglect this important step. You worked so hard to create it; it’s definitely worth the extra step to protect it.

Do you have questions about book writing and publishing and live in the Seattle/Tacoma, Washington area? Consider attending our Book Writers’ Workshops … the next one coming up is Saturday, January 28th, 9 am – 3 pm in Gig Harbor … “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” Find more details on the “Workshop” page on our website, or read about our previous workshops, last June and September. Hope you can join us!

 

 

Losing Steam? How to Keep the Momentum of a Project Going

steamtrain

Back in June, we hosted a workshop entitled “So You Have a Story, Now What?” in which we covered the steps to planning, starting, and finishing a book. It was one of those gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer days where the water on the Sound is still and dreamy and the sky is full of color—a great day and an inspiring environment, for sure. At the end of the workshop, participants wrote out their goals of what they would write about, how they would space out their writing, and when they would finish. I, like our participants, hit the ground running. However, today, five months later, it is much less of a run and more of a slow jaunt from the couch to the kitchen.

Losing steam is a common phenomenon. It happens with all sorts of long projects, whether it is a commitment to write a blog every two weeks, posting every day on your social media, or writing a book. The beginning stages and the finishing stages of a project are fun, but the daily grind is not always exciting. In fact, it can even be boring. This is dangerous because if you are bored and stuck in a rut, often the work you are producing is boring and stuck in a rut. If you are not inspired by your own work, you are more likely to quit and run out of steam.

One of the main reasons people lose steam is because they lose sight of their vision and start second-guessing themselves. I have just spent six months on this project and it’s not even that good of an idea. What was I thinking? No one wants to read this book! It’s not turning out exactly how I envisioned. Sometimes old vision is cast out of the way for new vision. This book isn’t a good idea anymore; I have an even better idea. In fact, I’ve been working on this project for a year and I’ve changed. I’m a different person and therefore I need to write a different book. And so, your life gets filled with half finished products.

Here are some tips to get you out of the mid-book slump:

Have a deadline. A book has a natural deadline. You must finish it so it can get it edited, printed, and onto shelves. There are going to be days, weeks, and or even months, where you are going to be running on low steam. The important thing is to stick to your writing goals and deadlines. Sit down at the desk and type whether you want to or not. (Read our blogs “What Gets Scheduled Is What Gets Done” and “8 Steps to creating Your Perfect Writing Environment.” 

However, other projects, such a blog, newsletters, or social media, are ongoing. With no end in sight, they can become mundane or repetitive. Set deadlines for yourself to revamp your process. Every six months, completely change your style, update your branding, or try something new. Create series that you can start and finish so your content always feels fresh.

Don’t be a perfectionist. If you feel like the thing you are working on right now is mediocre, it is easy to imagine that the next project will be better. Remember that a finished product in hand is better than a perfect project still in your head. Forget the idea of writing a perfect book (which, by the way, does not exist), and cling to the idea of getting better with each project.

Complete your goals (it’s addictive). You may have heard this before, it’s true: set small goals you can achieve along the way. Celebrate when you achieve those goals. As a writer, there is nothing more important than finishing your first book. Holding your book, fresh off the press, is one of the best feelings. Even if you’re not 100% excited about the book, now that one is finished, you will know the process and can write the next one.

Be accountable. Meet with a good friend, a writing coach, or an editor who will keep you on track. You can also publicly post your process. Many authors and artists do “100-Day Projects” where they post a photo of themselves writing or drawing for 100 days. This gives not only builds your online presence, but creates accountability.

Remind yourself why you started. Why are you writing this book? Who are you writing this book for? Most of our authors have a message they want to tell. We encourage our authors to have a specific person they are writing to. Imagine that person and remind yourself why you are writing to him or her. Get back into the field. If you are writing about at-risk teens but have spent the past month behind a desk writing, spend a day with the kids. If you are writing a book about an engineering process, go build something. Recreate the excitement you had when you began writing.

Be around creative people. Surround yourself with go-getters. When you see and talk with others who are working hard to achieve their goals, they can be an inspiration to you. If everyone around you is complacent, it will take a lot of energy to put your nose to the grindstone. But if you surround yourself with people of vision who work hard, you can ride off their momentum.

The goal is to enjoy your project and ride the train of vision and excitement all the way to the end. If you are feeling discouraged or worn down, take some time to recast your vision. Then get back to writing and finish your book!

This post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor.