Conestoga 14

It's been a few days since I got back from Conestoga 14 in Tulsa. Now seems like a good time to put down my impressions of what I did and saw.

For some reason, I didn't get to as many other panels as I might have wanted. I missed one because I was taking a late afternoon nap Saturday. Looking over the list of panels from the pocket program, I think I just didn't find enough panels that I was passionate about getting to this year. Maybe it was me, or maybe the con just didn't have enough panels this year.

On the upside, I got to see several authors who I hadn't talked to since last year. It was nice that most recognized me. I tried to catch up with as many as I could. Oddly, even though I only had two panels to be at and a workshop class to run, I seemed to be pressed for time this year.

One thing that struck me was that this year the opening ceremonies at Conestoga were at 6 PM on Friday, instead of the usual 7 PM. The main programming room at opening ceremonies seemed to be half to two-thirds full; it seemed more packed the last two years I've gone. I don't know if this meant that attendance was down, or that more people can make the later time. I hope it's the latter.

On a personal writing note, I did get some work done at Conestoga. I edited down one story; did a little pondering about another; and decided to give up on a third. I also tinkered around with a potential third Lisa Herbert book. I actually spent an hour in the hotel business room, poking around Google Maps, trying to invent worlds for her to visit. That was fun; reminded me how much I still like maps.

The one downside for me was that I only sold one book the whole weekend. I think partly that was because I didn't have a signing and I didn't take part in "Speed-Date the Author." I missed out on those because I didn't have any new books out. Still, it would have been nice to have had a table in the dealers room to see how sales would have been.

Overall I had a good time. I look forward to going next year. My next con should be ConQuest 41 in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend. Hope to see you there!


Making Time to Write

A few weeks ago I held a writers' workshop at the Andover library. Even though the weather was awful, 8 women braved the cold and showed up. I covered my planned topics and answered lots of questions. I hope I was helpful.

One question that came up, or maybe it was a topic on my list, was how to find time to write. It's a question that published authors get asked a lot.

I think if you want to write something and finish it, you have to be able to write every day. Five days a week is good. Six days a week is better. Seven is probably a day too much; you need time to recharge your creative batteries.

You don't need to write all day. I don't know many writers who do. Those that do either write slowly, in longhand or by two-finger typing, or they write part of the day and edit the rest of the day.

In fact, I write about an hour to an hour and a half six days a week. In that time I can write three to four pages a day. It might not sound like much, but it does add up.

If you want to write, find half an hour to an hour in your daily schedule. It should be a time when you can physically write. It needs to be at a time of the day when you have the energy to be creative. Most importantly, it needs to be the same time every day.

I've found that if I write at the same time every day, I get into the habit of writing. I can get ideas at any time, and often do. I might make notes on one project or another at any time. But I write at the same time every day (the morning, after showering, shaving, and so on). Because that's when I work, I'm able to get work done at that time.

In the course of an hour, you could get a few pages written. That might not seem like much. But at that pace, you'd have a short story written in a week or two. At that pace, you might finish a chapter of a book in a few weeks. Nonfiction might work differently; it does for me. Still, a few pages a day gets you closer to finishing whatever you're working on.

That is the key to the set time to write. You get a little more done each day. You make progress. Page by page your project gets completed. That is how you become a writer.