Every year at the Eastern PA SCBWI Poconos conference I learn something new. I always enjoy this conference, but there wasn’t a single speaker or session I attended that disappointed. Here’s some insightful nuggets that resonated with me not only as a writer but as a person (these are not written with quotation marks because I often paraphrase when I’m taking notes, but I think the ideas the speakers intended are all intact):
- Even when you think something isn’t relative right now, write it down. You will change. Something extraneous now may be exactly what you need later.
- There are no secure boxes. Do whatever you want to do, and do it wildly, purely, uncensored, even regrettable. Do it as hard as you can. ~Donna Jo Napoli
- There are so many things out of our control, and we, especially children, are trying to figure things out and how to control our lives.
- Write what you want to know. You’ll experience what you never imagined. If you take the chance, something will change, not just your manuscript…you! ~Suzanne Morgan Williams
- Don’t worry about how long it takes, worry about making it right.
- Nothing can make you feel worse than to compare yourself to someone else. It’s important not to beat ourselves up. We all have our own journey, we should celebrate our own journey.
- Never give up because you might be on the one yard line, and you just don’t know it. ~Donna Gephart
- Part of the fun for me is when I get to go out with my giant turkey head and do book signings.
- They told me you probably shouldn’t show so much penguin butt. ~Lee Harper
This year I also learned that no matter how childish an idea seems (like going on the swings on a lovely spring day), never be too ashamed to share it with others (especially if you are at a conference full of people who create books for children). They might just want to join in on the fun, and you might make a friend in the process.
I think the most important thing I took away from this conference was to live and write with more freedom. As an adult, I think I’ve gotten away from expressing my true self. There isn’t one reason for this that I can pinpoint, but I blame some combination of worrying about what others think of me, trying to follow all the “rules” of society, and in general just being too self-aware.
It’s time for me to let go a little. To do and not think. To write drafts with more abandon. To be more relaxed when I send query letters. To not be afraid to let my true personality show through. What have you been working on lately?