Thursday, August 23, 2012

What I Did This Summer: Learning Opportunities in Writing

It’s a good idea to always be on the look-out to learn all you can about writing. I recently found a few things that helped and I would like to share them with you today.

In my efforts to improve my writing abilities and learn more about the field, I have been busy this summer, making use of classes, workshops and conferences. Last month, I told you about a two-week class on writing children’s books, with the help of a coach (Suzanne Lieurance of the Working Writers Club) and a software program (How to Write a Children’s Book in 14 Days (or Less!) by Mel McIntyre). If you missed my July post, you can find it here: I’m still working on my do-over efforts.

In July, I attended an in-person one-day picture book workshop taught by Liz Garton Scanlon,  We studied the form and craft of picture books. The author of four picture books, Liz shared her expertise with us, discussing conflict, characterization, setting, language, revision, and other aspects of writing a great picture book. 

If you are able, going to a workshop, class or conference in-person is a great way to learn as well as network. I realize attending a writing event in-person may cost more, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know where to look or haven’t had luck at finding a writing event in your area, you can read more about that in my March post, How to Find Writing Workshops, Seminars and Conferences in Smaller Markets,

This month, I attended a free online writing conference, WriteOnCon, For two days, authors, agents, and editors shared their knowledge, answered questions, critiqued and gave away prizes. The day before the conference, attendees could submit queries, pitches and the first 100 words of their manuscripts for critiquing. If you missed it, this year’s WriteOnCon, as well as the 2010 and 2011 conferences, are archived on their website, (Another free online writing event, the Muse Online Writers Conference, is held every October. You will find more information at their website,

I haven’t written as much as I would have liked this summer, but I have been fortunate to meet other writers and gain insight from industry professionals. What have you done this summer to learn more about writing and to improve your skills?

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.


Donna McDine said...

Hi Debbie,

Even though you didn't get as much writing done as you would have liked it sounds like your time has been well spent.

Thanks for the info.

All the best,

Karen Cioffi said...

Debbie, I agree with Donna, you certainly spent your time on useful writing opportunities.

And, thanks for the WriteonCon tip. I didn't realize the information was accessible after the fact. And, thanks for all the great links.

Heidiwriter said...

Continuing to learn is one aspect about writing that I love! We never get stagnant in our profession!

Magdalena Ball said...

I do the Muse Online Conference every year and I love it - it's so stimulating. I also find that taking courses on reading (I'm doing a modern poets workshop in a few week's time with UPenn) also helps stimulate my writing. I didn't know about WriteonCon but I can see there's plenty there too.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

A busy writing summer. I really enjoy muse online also. It's really been helpful for me.

Shirley Corder said...

Thanks Debbie for all the links. I too do the Muse conference each year, but I hadn't heard of the WriteOnCon. It sounds good.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hey, Deb,

It was great having you in my workshop earlier this summer. And I think it's wonderful that you're going to go back through the materials on your own now. Learning is recursive, so you'll have a deeper understanding of everything the second time.

Happy writing!

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