“Fail Better Next Time”

Middle Tennessee Writer’s Conference 2013
The last Saturday in September I had the privilege of going to my first ever Writer’s Conference on the MTSU campus sponsored by MTSU’s very own non-degree creative writing program: The Writer’s Loft.

The itinerary included a energetic poet, an awesome historian, a quirky playwright, and two successful fiction writers. All quality speakers and I wish you could have heard the keynote speaker the most. He talked all about perseverance through failure. But I took notes, disjointed as they are, and have laid a few of them out for your viewing pleasure in an order I hope makes some kind of sense.

Quotes & Helpful Codas
When seeking feedback, as your critiquer how the passage in question makes me them feel. What emotion are they feeling. Strong Emotion = Tension = Conflict

Conflict is essential. “Hell is story friendly. Heaven is where you go when the story is over.”
Conflict starts in the first couple of pages.

“Writing is like driving through a snow storm. You know where you’re going, but you get there a little at time.”

“Failure is inevitable.” You will face disappointment.
Writing exercises and experimenting with different styles in flash fiction can be a great way to get yourself out of funk. Don’t focus on failure; focus on the writing.

(Samuel Beckett) “Ever try. Ever fail. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Strive to fail better than the last time.
“Be fearless in the face of failure.”

Writing is a muscle. The longer you go without writing, the harder it is to get started again. The more you write, the easier it is to sit down and get some work done.

Writing Exercises
1) Take two characters and write a short scene where one is lying to the other. What kind of movements did you character make that could give away the fact that they’re lying to reader? What did you learn about the character who was lying?

2) Think about a scar you have. What memories are evoked by looking at it? How did you get it? Write a poem about it.

3) Draw a layout of the first house you grew up in. Where did you spend most of your time alone? What are you doing? How do you feel? What would you as an adult say to your younger self? This is a good exercise to do if you have a character with strong memories of their childhood home.

Book/App/Software Recommendations
*How To Write a Lot: A Practical Guide To Productive Academic Writing
*AEON Timeline
*Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die
*Story Toolz
*DEVON ThinkĀ (said to have a steep learning curve)
*Apps (apple): Day One, Ever Note

Bill Brown (poet)
Holly Tucker (historian)
Linda Busby Parker (fiction)
Claudia Barnett (playwright)
Keynote: Kevin Wilson (fiction)

19 Responses to “Fail Better Next Time”

  1. Sounds fun! I've occasionally considered going to something like that, but I'm too lazy to see what's local! (And considering how close I am to NYC, there's bound to be something!)

  2. It was a lot better (i.e. more interesting and fun) than I was expecting. It makes me want to try out another one. There's at least three more that go on in TN every year that I miss because I'm chicken. šŸ™‚

  3. I know what you mean! My sister actually forwarded the information on this one. I've literally checked two times and that was last year. There's a huge one that goes on in Nashville every year. It focuses more on mystery & crime writing, but some of those agents do my genre, too and it sounds like a lot of fun. I bet there are some really good ones in NYC. šŸ™‚

  4. This sounds like such a great conference! I'm glad you got to go and that you got so much out of it!That Samuel Beckett quote is one of my all=time favorites! I've had it hanging on my wall ever since college.

  5. "Hell is story friendly. Heaven is where you go when the story is over." =Awesome!My favorite choir teacher said if you're going to make a mistake, make a bold one. I think that's my favorite advice lately. Dare to make mistakes. =)

  6. I love that! And so many mistakes take the story to unexpected places, in a good way. :)Thanks for stopping by! I seriously feel like a celebrity just stopped by my blog. Lol!

  7. I agree w/ Crystal on that quote – terrific! Thanks for writing this all down. It was really interesting to see what they said – so much wisdom. Glad you got to go there šŸ™‚

  8. Some great information and quotes. Thanks so much for sharing. Yes, failure is inevitable, but I like the idea of writing through it and being fearless. Great post!

  9. […] But smushed gnats is not the topic of today’s wonderful, awesome post. No, on September 20th, I attended the Second Annual Creative Writer’s Conference of Middle Tennessee held at MTSU by the resident non-degree writing program MTSU Write, formerly (and I think betterly) known as The Loft. This is where connoisseurs of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction come together to impart wisdom, inspire, and flex some writerly muscles. Last year’s post is HERE. […]

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