I enjoyed the wonderful scene at the San Francisco Writing Conference held at the Mark Hopkins hotel on Nob Hill. There were uniformed doormen, crystal chandeliers, and 400 writers, authors, and agents, milling about. What a scene of excited and happy writers! There were so many workshops, and such energy as people worked on their ideas, pitches, and learned new writing tips.

My favorite was the Memoir Panel, where Signe Pike of Penguin/Plume publishers in New York. She I talked about the importance of memoir writing and some of the best ways to complete a memoir and get to the next stage. Later, a panel of New York publishers spoke about the current health of publishing–which is not all doom and gloom despite the economy.

On Saturday I coached writers at the Book Doctor event. Every 5 minutes for three hours, a new person sat down to tell me about their idea, and I helped shape their pitch for the Speed Dating with Agents the next day.

What I learned from the conference:

  1. Most memoirists struggle with plot and structure.
  2. I love the passion that memoirists have for their stories.
  3. Defining the focus and writing in scenes are especially challenging for most memoirists.
  4. Agents and publishers are still looking!
  5. The way to get something written is to write frequently–though not necessarily every day.
  6. The writing world is alive and well, despite rumors of doom and gloom.
  7. The NY scene is much more open to self-published works, esp. if they have done well, than it used to be.
  8. Creative things are being done in NY to get books published.
  9. Building a platform is really needed to help the author get recognized.
  10. Platform is:
  • Joining organizations.
  • Blogging your ideas
  • Getting published in small magazines
  • Taking risks to send things out no matter what
  • Networking at conferences
  • Going to conferences to build skill at pitching and learning about the writing world.

To focus your ideas:

  1. Write a list of the next 5 scenes you plan to write for your project–whatever it is.
  2. List the title of the next chapters or topics you want to write about
  3. Think about your writing schedule. Can you find one more time to write?
  4. Spring: what does your character(s) do when spring begins–rituals, prayers, crazy things.