Seattle 7 Writer's Conference Review

On Saturday I went to to a writer’s conference and workshop called Write Here Write Now organized by Seattle7Writers. It included a series of 6 fast-paced 10-minute mini-lessons, followed by 45 minutes of writing, and the opportunity for a 15 minute one-on-one author conference.

What it was:

Their description: “At Seattle7Writers, we know that writers can help each other achieve great things. We firmly believe that writing (actually writing, not just learning about, talking about, or hearing about writing) is the key to writing well enough to get published. This is why Write Here Write Now is all about writing: with support, with tips and advice from friendly experts, and with the good cheer of a room full of writers.”

Opening by Robert Schenkkan (Pulitzer, Tony, & Writers Guild Award winner. He was a writer for The Pacific on HBO) & closing by Garth Stein (author of The Art of Racing in the Rain)

  • Chapter 1: Keynote and Opening Lesson – Robert Schenkkan
  • Chapter 2: Telling Details – Elizabeth George (bestselling mystery writer)
  • Chapter 3: Pacing – Boyd Morrison (A thriller writer who also won Jeopardy. He’s worked for NASA and Xbox. Some people are just good at everything. I kind of hate that he also seems likable.)
  • Chapter 4: What We Talk About When We Talk About Titles – Donna Miscolta (Literary fiction writer and author of Natalie Wood’s Fake Puerto Rican Accent)
  • Chapter 5: Topic Selection – Dave Boling (sports columnist and fiction writer)
  • Chapter 6: How to Make Fear Your BFF – Jen Louden (self-help writer who appeared on Oprah)
  • Chapter 7: Closing Remarks and Lightning Q&A.

The authors participating in 1:1’s were a pretty diverse group. I met with Katherine Malmo and she is fantastic. You should check out her book. Who in This Room: The Realities of Cancer, Fish, and Demolition. It’s unique because it’s based on autobiographic experiences that are part of a style she developed called “creative nonfiction,” that pushes the boundaries of story and memoir.

What I learned:

  • Writing with someone (or a bunch of other people) doing the same thing you’re doing provides a lot of motivation. You know you’re not in it alone
  • Writing advice is like any advice, much of it isn’t universal. Some of it might work for you and some of it might not.
  • Sometimes great authors are not great teachers. This kind of ties into what is said above. I think it’s a product of the fact that people who are prolific published writers are often far enough advanced that they forget what it’s like to be starting at the very beginning. That being said, I only listened to 10 minute mini lessons so I don’t think I really have enough information to judge any of the writers’ teaching abilities. They weren’t touting themselves as teachers, they were just writers sharing what they knew.
  • 45 chunks are extremely effective when it comes to writing.
  • If you’re a beginning writer who is just starting out 1. take some writing classes & 2. find a writing group of people to both give you deadlines to meet with your writing and also to give you feedback on your work.
  • Once you get to the stage where you have a final product you want to have published, go to a large writing conference where you  can find seminars on editing, publishing, getting an agent, etc. You can even pitch your work to an agent or enter writing contests to get yourself noticed. If you live in the Seattle area, the PNWA is a great place to start.
  • Getting only ten to fifteen minutes of an accomplished author’s time (either hearing them speak or meeting with them) is invigorating and frustrating. It completely leaves you wanting more.
  • If you live in the Seattle area, the Richard Hugo house is a great resource and you can make a meeting with either of their writers-in-residence (there’s one for poetry and one for fiction or non-fiction) whenever you want from September to June. Anyone in the Seattle area can make an individual appointment, though you have to schedule about a month and a half out. So cool.

This event is particularly special because it is reasonably priced and all the proceeds go to an organization doing great work in the community.

Have you ever been to a writing workshop or conference?