Top 3 Things I Learned at NESCBWI

*This was originally posted on Writer's Rumpus, here.
melissa sweet
Melissa Sweet
1. Get started!  Incredible author/illustrator, Melissa Sweet said: “We don’t have to know what we’re going to make, we just have to get started.”  How many times do I stare at a blank page, unsure of what to do next?  How many times have I failed before I even began because I failed to start? Jane Yolen echoed Melissa’s sentiment when she said: “If you show up, the muse will listen.”  Both Jane and Melissa helped me remember that when I sit down to write, the words come.  All I need to do is get started.  
Black and White JY, Heidi, Susannah
Me, Jane Yolen, Heidi Stemple, Susannah Richards
2. Take advantage of your great ideas! This may seem obvious.  As creatives, of course we use our great ideas, don’t we?  The venerable Jane Yolen said: “If you are blessed with a great idea, don’t debase that coinage. Make it sing, and keep the change.” Great ideas don’t sing without hard work and revision.   Jane’s words motivated me to take a look at some of my stories, find the flaws, and make them sing!
elly swartz
Elly Swartz
3. Write with heart!  In a fantastic workshop on infusing emotion into our work, Elly Swartz challenged us to write from the heart during a 2 minute class exercise.  I imagined my character and wrote:
I sit on my bed,
my heart a stone in my chest.
Its weight catapults me backwards.
I will never meet my father.
My tenuous string of hope stretches thin
and breaks,
Its remains wobble in my mind,
a tangled nest of sorrow and regret.
Writing from the heart helped me understand my character’s feelings in a way that I hadn’t before.  
lynda mullaly hunt
Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Talented Lynda Mullaly Hunt‘s words resonated with me: “If you are willing to put your vulnerabilities on the page, you will change lives.”  Is there anything better than that?
THANK YOU to NESCBWI conference organizers Josh Funk and Sera Rivers for creating an environment conducive to learning and filled with creative energy!
What did you learn at your last writer’s conference?

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