My highlights from the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild Annual Conference

The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild held it’s annual conference in mid-October and, as always, there was a lot to take in and a lot to learn. While I can’t possibly share everything, I do want to highlight some of the more memorable lessons I took away from each presentation I attended.

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My first drafts vs my later drafts

I’m sure this isn’t something I need to tell you, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway: Every writer does things differently. Not just in regards to style or ideas, either. The actual act of writing a story is different for each of us. We focus on different aspects of the story at different times, and we each struggle with different elements.

Personally, I love hearing how other writers draft their stories. There’s always something to learn from that, don’t you think? So I thought, to return the favour, that today I would tell you a little bit about how my stories come together.

In particular, let’s quickly talk about some of the ways in which my first drafts are different from my later drafts.

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My experience with a sensitivity reader

As writers, we have the option to utilize–sometimes for pay, sometimes not–a variety of readers and editors along the road to publication. What they provide varies with their role; critique partners offer different feedback than beta readers, copy editors different than developmental editors, and so on.

A relatively new type of reader to come on to the scene is the sensitivity reader. New, but no less important, especially if you’re writing about a marginalized character. The main character in one of my own novels is an example. She has a different cultural background than I do. The story itself doesn’t revolve around her culture, but the culture did help shape who she is. I decided, therefore, to hire a sensitivity reader.

When I mentioned to other writers that I’d taken that path, I got a few common questions about it. So, I thought I’d answer some of them here.

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Author of influence: J.K. Rowling

It’s been a while since I shared an Author of Influence post. I hadn’t meant for so much time to pass, but there you go.

Over the past few months, I told you how each Meg Cabot, Christopher Moore, and Stephen King influenced my writing style. Today, I want to finish off this series by sharing how J.K. Rowling influenced me–and how she did it differently than the others.

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Author of influence: Stephen King

Welcome to the third in my series of Author of Influence posts. I’ve told you a bit about how each Meg Cabot and Christopher Moore have influenced my writing style. Today, I’m here to talk about Stephen King.

King, one of the most well-known names in horror, has written more than 50 books, several of which have been made into movies or adapted for television. Some of his most popular include Carrie (which also happened to be his first published novel), It, and Misery.

So far, I’ve only recommended one of King’s books here–On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. That’s something I intend to fix; I have a recommendation for It planned later this month, and I hope to re-read a few of King’s books over the next year so that I can introduce you to more.

That said, I don’t need to direct you toward recommendations to tell you about how King has affected my writing.

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Writing and self-care

Life gets rough sometimes. That’s true no matter what type of job you have–something in the arts or something in science; something in the public sector or something in the private sector; something that pays a lot or something that pays very little.

People talk about self-care a lot lately. While some of them may be close to rolling their eyes when they hear or speak the phrase, I don’t think that makes talking about it any less important. Especially if you’ve had a hard time prioritizing it in the past.

As someone who’s trying to build a writing career while working full time (and, you know, spending time with family, having some sort of a social life, sleeping, those sorts of things), I’ve definitely fallen into that category at times. Then, of course, I burn out. I lose a significant chunk of my energy and motivation, and a lot of areas in my life suffer for it. During those times, writing somehow tends to be both a stress-inducer and something I long for.

That last sentence is what I want to talk to you about today–the relationship I’ve found exists between writing and self-care. While I’ll talk about what I’ve experienced or found works best, I’m hoping that that others can take something away from it.

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Author of influence: Christopher Moore

Remember last month, when I told you a bit about how Meg Cabot influenced my writing? Well, today I want to tell you a bit about another author who’s had an effect on me: Christopher Moore.

Moore is the author of fifteen novels, including international bestsellers Lamb, A Dirty Job, and You Suck. His novels primarily fall into the adult category, and most have a supernatural spin. I’ve recommended three of Moore’s books here already: A Dirty Job, Coyote Blue, and Practical Demonkeeping.

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