My Favorite Ten Quotes from RWA13

Downtown Atlanta

Downtown Atlanta

I hadn’t planned on attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta this year. My husband had been undergoing medical treatments, my son encountered difficulties through much of eighth grade, and my day job had been overly demanding in the past months. In spite of these obstacles, my husband insisted I go.

I’m so glad I did.

The national conference is about workshops, pitching, and networking. Writers at all different stages of their careers attend and each can tailor her experience to meet specific goals. My first year, I focused on learning all about the craft, attending every possible workshop and pitching my first novel. I socialized very little, still a shy newbie. This year, I balanced the workshops with both pitching, networking, and socializing. Even more, I had fun hanging out with friends, making new friends, and visiting the Georgia Aquarium a few blocks away from where we stayed at the Peachtree Center’s Marriott Marquis.

With author Juliette Sobanet

With author Juliette Sobanet

But very much like my friend, Patty Blount, discovered and shared quite eloquently in her recent blog post for our local writing chapter, I found RWA’s national conference to be much more than all of these wonderful things. Nationals is a place where people of common interests and big dreams come together to support each other and be inspired. We writers all suffer at times from the Doubt Monster. We all go through periods where we believe our writing sucks, that our aspirations are unrealistic, and we wonder if we shouldn’t just quit.

RWA13 reinforced my desire to make my passion a career. To keep working until I succeed. To know I’m not alone. And that I can always, always turn to my RWA colleagues for guidance and a shoulder to lean on.

For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year’s conference, and perhaps as a refresher for those of you who did, here are ten of the most memorable bits of advice I took away with me about writing from some of the greatest in the romance writing profession:

1.  Writing is a process of controlled chaos.

2.  Your goal is to complete one book every nine months. Don’t lollygag.

3.  Write through the fear.

4. Be disciplined.

5. Query the NY publishers while building your writer platform. If they don’t buy your story, self-publish, but only after you’ve written and edited a very clean, polished book.

6. If agents or editors like your writing but not your book, focus on creating emotional depth of characters, pacing, and a compelling plot.

7. Regarding plot, be outrageous. Readers don’t read fiction to escape to real life.

8. Outrageous plots must be tied to well-motivated reasons to allow your reader to suspend disbelief.

9. Don’t undervalue yourself or your work.

10. Determine how many pages you can complete in a day, make a reasonable goal each week, and be responsible for achieving that goal, no matter what.

And here’s a bonus, the quote I scribbled on a sticky note and placed on my laptop, courtesy of the inimitable Cherry Adair:  Finish the damn book!

What are your favorite quotes from RWA13 or about writing that guide or inspire you?

Nora told me, "It gets easier. Keep writing."

Nora told me, “It gets easier. Keep writing.”


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marcia
    Jul 25, 2013 @ 21:59:56

    Great quotes, Jolyse…all good advice. Advice I should be following! Glad you went and had a good time. Hope things at home at going a little more smoothly.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 25, 2013 @ 22:07:00

      Thanks, Marcia. Life here is a roller coaster as usual, but with love, it’s all good. Sending positive thoughts to you daily as well. ((hugs))

  2. Regina Kyle
    Jul 25, 2013 @ 22:16:22

    I’m glad to see that “I only have my brown purse” did not make the cut 🙂

  3. PJ Sharon
    Jul 25, 2013 @ 22:36:03

    Love Nora’s advice. She is an inspiration!

  4. Donna Coe-Velleman
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 01:59:14

    Great advice. Most are reminders of what we’ve already heard but we all need reminders. At least I do. : )

  5. davidprosser
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 03:30:50

    I love the bonus. Now I just need to make it happen. I’m so glad you had a great time at the conference and hope things are much improved at home now Jolyse.
    xxx Sending Huge Hugs xxx

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2013 @ 06:36:49

      Things at home are much improved, David. Thank you for thinking of us. As for the quote, glad you liked it. It’s so true! We writers sometimes sabotage ourselves with all the trappings of aspects (research, editing, social media) and lose focus on forward momentum. You can do it. Finish the book! 🙂 (((HUGS)))

  6. Tory Vine
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 07:03:03

    Great advice Thanks!

  7. Jill Weatherholt
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 08:27:31

    These are all great quotes, Jolyse, but number 3 hits home with me. I’m so happy you were able to attend the conference. And judging from your photos, you had a great time.

  8. Gwen Hernandez
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 09:45:29

    Oh, Jolyse, I wish I’d known you were going to be there! I would have looked for you. So glad you got to go, though. Your post is a nice run down of the reasons to go, and some great quotes to take with you. I especially like #7. I’m always trying to push myself to be a bit more outrageous. 😉

    BTW, I think we had the same view from our rooms. I have several pictures of that set of towers in the sunrise, sunset, storm clouds… 😉

  9. Jolyse Barnett
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 10:14:18

    Hi Gwen! I heard great things about your Scrivener workshop. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend due to conflicts with pitch appointments. Yes, No.7 strikes a chord with me, too. When I first began writing three years ago, I confused “real life” with “believability,” It’s taken me awhile to be more outrageous with the plot, too.

    Keep going! You’re on your way!!! 🙂

  10. Patty Blount
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 12:04:59

    THanks for the blog link, J! Glad you got so much from the conference. I think we should all adopt Nora’s comment as our mantra. Finish the damn book!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2013 @ 13:20:21

      You’re welcome, Patty. As an unpublished author, I was surprised to learn my published buddies still feel the same way as me. Thanks for taking the risk and sharing your experience with us. I learned so many things at Nationals. Perhaps because I wasn’t as overwhelmed with the newness of it all and could focus on my weaknesses. Great mantra! 🙂

  11. Jess Witkins
    Jul 26, 2013 @ 18:06:48

    So jealous of all of you coming back from RWA so energized! I’m glad you had a great time and pushed yourself to balance the classes you took and people you met. Sounds like a phenomenal conference!

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Jul 26, 2013 @ 20:17:35

      Thanks, Jess. We had so much fun; worth every penny and the time away from my loved ones. My husband and I view conferences as an investment in my career. Hope to see you at one soon. In the meantime, write!

      Now, for the writer energy…I just sprinkled a generous amount your way. 🙂

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