Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Notes From the Conference

I was recently at the annual SCBWI National Conference and had a chance to hear some amazing speakers. Every year, it seems as if there is one speaker who just really wows me with the power of their words or vision or writing. This year it was Jacqueline Woodson. She read from her amazing Newberry Honor book SHOW WAY, which simply blew me away. It is an autobiographical picture book that tells of her African-American heritage as passed down through the slave women who preceded her. Gave me goosebumps.

She also had some things to say about writing that really resounded with me, so I’m going to share them here.

You must trust the stories without doubt. Never open yourself up to doubt, it will kill the story.

When she was young, she was eager to put the pieces of people together so that they would form a whole story. I thought this was such a terrific way to describe how we writers try to make sense of the world around us.

She reminded us that the energy of devastation serves a purpose, and to use that to fuel our work.

Also, that when we write, try to remember the reader we were as a child and how fully immersed we were in that reading experience, then try to write to that ideal of fiction so that our readers will be as fully immersed in our books.

There is no such thing as writer's block--just the body saying that this is not what you're supposed to be writing. It can also be about fear.

Ask yourself: How will this story heal you by telling it?

Write the story with the most honesty you possibly can.

Your stories can have nothing to do with your physical experience, but should have everything to do with your emotional experiences.

Write to the other side of your emotional pain.

The first line of a book should tell you everything that story is going to be about.


Katy Cooper said...

Wow! I can see why what she said continues to vibrate within. Those are all things I needed to hear and I need to remember. Thank you for posting them...

dee said...

This is such great advice. It is going to be printed and hung up on my wall.
Thanks, Robin!

Anonymous said...

You make writing sound so exciting that even I want to write. Thank you!