Writer’s Digest Conference NOTES, Part 7

Finally, we’re on the last session!

Listen to George. He’s a straight up G.



Closing Keynote Address: The Drive to Write by Chris Baty

  • 300,000 writers participated in NaNoWriMo this past year, collectively writing billions of words. AKA NaNoWriMo ROCKS.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer was a NaNoWriMo book
  • “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for.” – John A. Shedd
  • Most important parts of writing a good book:
  1. Deadline — it’s more important to have a good deadline than a good idea. Having the right encouragement can transform a bad or flawed concept into an awesome one. You have to prod, and poke, and get yourself moving, because without that, you’ll be perfectly content watching TV for the rest of your life, instead.
    1. Have smaller deadlines, and larger deadlines; see that spot on the horizon – take it, choose it, claim it as yours
    2. If you know you’ll disappoint or anger people if you don’t meet a deadline, you’ll get work done much, much faster
    3. We give deadlines to each other. Share deadlines with other writers, ask them to hold you accountable for them. (NOTE: Friends and family are not good deadline keepers.)
    4. Be as creative with your deadlines as you are with your books. (Wager food and children)
    5.  Momentum – “Objects at motion tend to stay at motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest” (Isaac Newton).
      1. Even with great deadlines, sometimes projects just STALL. Real life intervenes, etc.
      2. The longer you go without working on a project, the harder it is to dive back in
      3. “A writer is someone whom writing is more difficult than for other people.” ~ Quote by So-and-So
      4. Commit yourself to looking at your novel every day, opening the document every day – not writing every day. If you’ve gone to the trouble of opening the document, sometimes you’ll add a few more words, and that’ll lead to an idea, and that one idea will lead to more ideas, and all of a sudden you’ll be writing.
      5. Will-power is like a muscle. Tiny victories lead to changes in your brain that lead you to get on a roll and stay on it.
      6. You’re forever faced with the decision of ending a writing project; give it a shot of at least several days in a row of at least opening the document… and the momentum will begin to pick up again.
    6.  Appreciation of Messes – A writer’s job is just to get out there and make as many messes as possible. (So your first drafts, and maybe the ones afterward too, will SUCK, and that’s okay.)
      1. Messes on a business level: We’re all just experimenting, trying to figure out how to build platforms, use social media, get an agent, etc.
      2. Constantly grappling with moments when we think we’re not quite doing it right? That’s what it means to be a writer.
      3. We spend our days in worlds we don’t understand, and we spend our time trying to make sense of them, both on and off the page.
      4. Embrace the fact that you’re going to make mistakes. Forgive yourself for that. Cut yourself a lot of slack for that – if you’re making mistakes, you’re learning things. By trying and failing, you’re growing leaps and bounds as writers and people. It’s not always clear that it’s happening, but it is happening.
    7.  Faith – We need big old trunk loads of faith.
      1. Our books don’t suck on some monstrous level
      2. We’re getting better over time
      3. Our books will sometime matter to someone
      4. As writers, we know that it’s difficult to make a living as writers. It’s impractical, maybe impossible.
      5. “Success is often closer than we know.”
      6. Everyone has so much more in them than they realize
      7. By following impractical dreams, you realize you have the power to do amazing things that will change the lives of your readers, and ultimately the world
      8. If you don’t believe in yourself, let your friends and family believe in you, and borrow some of their belief in yourself when the going gets tough.
      9. “Your voice is important. And your stories matter.”
      10. “There is someone out there, right now, who has waited their entire life to read the book that you’re writing. When they get their hands on it – and they will get their hands on it – they’re going to treasure your book and all the work that you put into it.” They’re waiting for you. You just have to put yourself out there and find them.


Thank you to all of you for sticking with me throughout the past few weeks of notes — I know it’s been a bit tedious at times, but hopefully it’s also been worth it and you’ve all learned something. 🙂 Going to a writing conference is a great experience, and if you’re interested in learning about some of the other wonderful sessions that were at the Writer’s Digest Conference this year, along with getting a more in-depth look at the sessions I attended, make sure to check out the Writer’s Digest store for the official recordings from all of the sessions.

In other news, the state theatre competition was this weekend (hence why I’m posting so late — sorry!), and I had a ton of fun. Unfortunately, our show didn’t score well with the judges, but it still was a fantastic experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s times like these that I love being a theatre geek. 🙂

Thanks again for slogging through all of my pages and pages of notes, guys! Now that we’re finally done with those, is there anything you’d like me to talk about, writing-related or otherwise? Leave your ideas in the comments! (Because honestly, I’ve been covering WDC notes for so long that I have no idea what to say now. It’s like that awkward moment when you run out of small-chat topics while on an elevator and you say something like, “Ummmm… so do you by any chance like parakeets/dogs/flying squirrels?” and they’re like, “No. I’m allergic,” and it’s just plain horrible.) So yeah. Leave me some topics to talk about. 😉


9 thoughts on “Writer’s Digest Conference NOTES, Part 7

  1. YAAAAAAY!!! Thanks so much for these notes, cavy, I just want to EAT THEM… (but, y’know, that would be weird….this comment just turned awkward…)
    How about you give us another update on your life???? Whose your best friend? (it’s me, right????)(right????)


    • Yes, you are completely my best friend Teresa. 😉 Actually, I don’t really have one specific best friend, but I have a lot of people I’m close with in different ways, so they’re all my best friends for different reasons.

      I guess I’ll give you guys a life update soon, then — not really anything’s going on right now, since I’m on break, but I’m going skiing at the end of the week, so that should prove interesting, haha.

      Thanks for commenting, Teresa!! (And honestly, if you want to eat my notes — make a cake and ice them onto them, take a picture of you eating it and send it to me, and I’ll give you a hundred bucks. No joke. This is something I want to see. :D)


        Oh man….is this going to be like ice skating??? That picture on figment with you clinging to the wall???
        Mmmm….I’m thinking about it…I just have to make some cake….


        • No, it’ll be better than ice skating, guaranteed. I’ve been skiing since I was little, so I’m pretty decent at it. Not good enough to handle a triple black diamond or anything like that by any means, but I do greens and blues a lot. And this is just a trial run for our trip to Utah later this year.

          Dooo it. Do it, do it, dooooo it!!!!


          • I feel betrayed, you guys. *glare*

            I have no idea what you should talk about… Hello? My blog is like, “I’m too lazy to think of something… PRETTY PICTURES! GLITTER! ENJOY!” (Luckily I’m giving up the interwebs for Lent, so I have an excuse not to blog, lol…)


            • Aww, mad that you don’t make the oh-so-important-and-magical Julia Best Friend list? 😉 (You know I’m kidding. I have no idea who I’d complain to, and make edit my writing every five seconds, and obsess over Wicked with without you. <3).

              Oh, but your blog is fun in its randomness! I like the glitter!!


            • Don’t worry, Hannah. WE can be bestest buds, because Julia neglected to put ME on the Magical Best Friend List as well!

              *nose in the air*
              *slings arm around Hannah’s shoulders*
              *saunters off*


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