I only had the budget to attend 1 Wisdom Workshop, and this was on my short list. Then, Hallmark sponsored the session—making it free! It became the obvious choice. I considered tackling one of the others on my list too, but in an effort to truly live inexpensively, it is still my one and only session today. This is a live blog, which means it is my unedited notes as the session progresses.
What writing inspires you?
Casey: Writing that makes you feel like you’re being let in on a secret.
Molly: Being authentic & real. “The thing that you’re afraid to write, is the thing that you must write.” ~Katherine Patterson’s editor on Bridge to Terabithia
Stephanie: Admitting secrets & being real. “If you co-sleep, you get enough flak and you can’t admit that it’s hard or has pitfalls.” Her favorite inspiring post of hers was the one where she admitted that “sometimes it sucks.”
From scrap pile to post? Give an example of one really compelling piece of work that started out not so compelling.”
Sarah: The rule is, you have to throw in your stupid ideas. Try not to self-edit as much. When you write freely, good things can happen.
Casey: “My first honest post was about my overdose when I was 7 months pregnant.” I never told anyone, but it was a post that needed to be said. It was hard to hit publish but it has helped so many people.
Molly: Trash It: taking something destined for the darkside and turn it into something inspirational. “What is the emotional essence of a booger?”
Stephanie: It’s Too Shirty—writing about trials, moments that don’t always inspire you. (“I’m very inspired by my kids.”) Sometimes you write, and write and write but you finally get to the one point. Sometimes? Delete the rest. Short & sweet is sometimes really good. You can write to get the point but you don’t have to publish everything that got you there.
Casey: Sometimes I’ll write 1000 words, then delete down to 2 sentences and add a picture.
Should you write with someone specific in mind? How do you write for a mass audience but make it feel personal to one reader?
Sarah: As card writers, you are writing something that (hopefully) thousands will read & send, but it has to feel like it’s just for the person who gets it. Think about who you want to read it, and write to that person. The exercise of imagining yourself in a specific situation helps.
Casey: The Superpowers of Motherhood—she wrote that about her neighbor, knowing that she wouldn’t hear the words in her current situation, but someday she would get it.
Molly: There’s a good chance if there’s something you love a lot, someone else does too. “The Universal Specific”—when you write something intensely personal, it can strike the heart strings of a lot of people.
Stephanie: “I try to write like no one is ever going to read it.” If I write for someone specific, I’m so non-confrontational that no one would ever know it. You can be real & vague at the same time.
How do you channel your thoughts?
Sarah: There are times when what you write will be taken the other way. There are also times when you will fail—something you think is inspirational falls flat.
Casey: There’s being passionate, and there’s being impulsive. If you’re too impulsive, you can hurt people and inspire them not to like you.
Molly: “Linda Barry, the cartoonist, is my writing hero.” (What It Is: Do You Wish You Could Write?) She does all her writing with Chinese ink brushes on yellow legal pad, then won’t touch it for 3 days. Have a mission statement (even if you hate that word) as a guiding force.
Stephanie: “Sometimes, I delete too much.” Try to copy & paste the cut sections into another draft to retouch later. You don’t have to have a consistent writing style for every. single. post. Occasionally, take the last line of a paragraph and put it in it’s own line—your thoughts aren’t always grammatically correct. Let writing flow how you think.
Casey: “If you try to put too many deep thoughts into one post, people’s brains implode.” Pay attention to how you read blog posts. If the first sentence doesn’t hook when you read, many will move on. Sometimes, the last line of a post can spark a conversation. Write so other people can read it.
Where do you find inspiration? How do you handle stumbling blocks?
Sarah: Sometimes, you have to leave to let things flow. It’s a little like bread—it just needs time to rise.
Casey: “Shut up and look around.” Notice little moments, watch people talk.
Molly: Find the joyful, intense parts of life and discover how they affect you. You can be inspired by another writer. We can all learn from one another.
Stephanie: “I learn so much about being an adult from my kids.” They can teach you way more than you can ever teach them. When you have stumbling blocks or don’t know what to write, sometimes it’s okay to not write.
How do you stay on top of what’s relevant in people’s lives? How do you know anyone will relate?
Sarah: Benevolent stalking is good—we should all do it. Intense curiosity about other people—”I read my niece & nephew’s Facebook conversations all the time.”
Casey: Google “orgasm on a treadmill” and her post is the 1st result. Be real, talk about what’s really going on.
Molly: Laughter, getting out with friends, be interested—people like to talk about themselves. Even if you aren’t specifically inspired by someone, it enriches your life & experiences. “If you’re too comfortable in a situation, you probably aren’t doing it right.”
Stephanie: Pay attention to your readers, visit other blogs, stay involved on Twitter. Know who’s reading you and make choices that fit them. We’re all giving, taking and affecting one another. Stay real and write what you know.