Stretching Yourself with a Workshop

Y2K11 Spring Break: Young Adult Books to Look Forward To
March 15, 2011
Rest in Peace: Elizabeth Taylor
March 23, 2011

One of the best reasons to join a local chapter of the RWA is the availability of workshops and access to the wider knowledge pool. I firmly believe that if I leave a workshop with one new piece of knowledge then it was a wildly successful workshop.

Reinforcing Lessons

Saturday, I gave my first workshop in front of my peers. It was a lot of fun! We discussed self-editing and the different, tips, tricks and comments I’ve developed over the years. Putting together the workshop reminded me of all the comments I’ve received and what I’ve learned from each of them.

When I was in school, one of the studying techniques my teacher’s espoused was summarizing what we’d learned. It was a way of processing the information she gave us, but in our own language. It reinforced the lesson and helped us apply the information going forward.

His Pants Tightened

Building a workshop helped me do much the same thing. Despite the fact that I think I gibbered like a gibbon (I tend to bounce while talking or rock back and forth or move across the room from side to side while making eye contact and I blame four years of speech and drama for this little tick), I realized that I actually had a lot of fun, because I was remembering the little things that brought those lessons home.

For example, if you use the same phrase over and over again in your work, it’s worth commenting on. In a recent piece that I wrote, one of the character’s kept experiencing his pants tightening. If you counted how many timed they tightened in a single chapter, the man should have been chopped in half!

Editing helped me catch it this time. But I’m not going to forget it because in my notes it says “his pants tightened” – and that means it’s time to check for those overused phrases.

What do you do to help reinforce the lessons you’ve learned?

btw, I’m over at Romance University today talking about ways to avoid author nervousness when you making an appearance.


  1. Kimberly Quinton says:

    Hi Heather!
    I thought the workshop you gave was excellent! The information was clear and logical and laid out in a useful, user-friendly way that everyone should have taken at least one new tip home with them. Ummm, I probably should edit that sentence 🙂 Oh and it was fun too. I always learn better when I'm having fun.

    I think you gave everyone some great info to keep in mind when writing and editing.

    OK, so as far as what I do to help reinforce lessons…. If it's something I've read (writing tips/articles), I try to keep the info and re-read often. If it's audio (I love self-help and educational audio books), I re-listen and take notes and if its general knowledge I've picked up here and there I try to relate it to me or mine and discuss it so I can solidify my own opinion about it.

    I'm excited to try the new tricks and tips picked up Saturday on the WIP i'm editing now. You can tell me how well I've done as my cp 🙂


  2. Kelly Moran says:

    Love my local WI chapter, and my critique partners! great post.

    I woke up Sunday a.m. to find my blog, my 500 plus followers, my 100plus author interviews, and my 200 plus reviews gone. Blogger gave no explanation, but I think the account was hacked. Change your password often!

    I have reloaded the interviews and reviews, plus redesigned the blog. But if you could, please hit the "follow" button so I can reclaim the fellow bloggers I miss. I'm still following you, as my account remained–thank goodness!

    Thank you!
    Kelly Moran

  3. Angi Morgan says:

    Hey Heather —
    Great post and great job last weekend!

    Thanks for all the great info.

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