I never really think of promoting free workshops as promoting. I do them because I like to do them, I’m a geek, and it gives me a nice cross-section to test my theories on. If people buy a book or show up in a workshop, it’s a nice plus, but I’d rather people just pay it forward and help someone out.
If you’re stuck and can’t figure out what’s wrong with your beginning or middle, stop by my workshop at the savvyauthors summer symposium—Using Story Structure to Troubleshoot Your Character-driven story. Four days of all kinds of different workshops (including yours truly) where I’ll be floating around, doing my own thing and sucking it all in—messing with the workshops that interest me (while at the same time doing my subplot workshop, lol—and the troubleshooting workshop. I’m nothing if not a multi-tasker). The most recent workshop I took was by a Harlequin author who had everyone work on sentences. It was the weirdest thing—I’ve never really worked on a micro level like that before, but after I did I realized I’d learned something. Other than the fact that people seem to love really short homework (probably why my workshops are self-limiting), I realized how flexible sentences were and how much the right sentence adds to a scene. You can never tell what might work for you.
If you can’t drop by, I’ll post it on my blog later in the month. I’ve seen people post pdfs for download, and I’ve always wanted to give it a shot.
I’m still working on that productivity workshop, and using it to push my own writing. Yesterday, I noticed when people talk about how they’re hiding from their writing; sometimes they mean they have addictions and learned behaviors. A learned behavior is something you train yourself to do, like always turning the pot handles in on your stove, or putting windshield de-icer in your washer fluid during the winter. You repeat a learned behavior because you get something out of it, clear windows during the winter, a temporary escape while you’re drunk. Sometimes learned behaviors are good. Sometimes they’re not.
I’m an internet junkie. I love being able to follow my thoughts wherever they lead me—little known facts about fruit brandies, how to build a wind-powered turbine for living off the grid or Hawaiian highway signs. The internet is a magpie collection of glittery, shiny things. Trouble is—it’s a time sink. I only have so many hours in my day and after adding up my time to see where it went, I found out I was putting—on average—four hours a day into building virtual windmills, not including the times I wanted to check a fact and stopped writing only to fall asleep after reading the biography of Cervantes.
You can’t always break an addiction on your own. I could pull the plug, but I always put it back. So yesterday, I gave my wireless card to my kid, who thinks it’s hilariously funny when I mutter (darkly) about not being able to get online. I did four chapters in my arc book, plus one powerpoint slide (and a blogpost). Today, I did another chapter, cleaned the house, made dinner for the next two days, did laundry, talked to my kids, watered the garden, weeded and started writing up a project I need to turn around quickly. There’s another outage planned for tonight. I might be frustrated, but it’s fixed a large productivity issue. Productivity tip #3—Stop non-productive learned behaviors, and if you can’t do it yourself, find someone with a sadistic streak.