A recent invite to the annual Writer’s Conference here on Cape Cod ignited the age-old debate: what is the benefit of paying to go talk about writing when you could save your cash and write?
I think it was Jonathan Edwards who said “every natural man flatters himself by what he intends to do.” One of my minister friends never finishes a sermon due to the bad habit of continually ‘going down rabbit trails’ while speaking, thus he never gets to the point or ends on time. He says everything but what God gave him to say. (That’s perhaps another post for another day.)
Skipping to the crux of the matter, I think my personal fear is based in the knowledge that I could spend a lot of time around the activity of writing and trick myself into thinking I’ve accomplished something. If I recall correctly, that’s termed Delaying Activity, and it’s not good.
Now I understand we all do it to some degree or another, but at some point it’s time to grow up. Just like your kids, once is cute, twice is understandable, third time’s a spanking. I’m also not saying workshops aren’t helpful; intelligent instruction and feedback are critical to developing craft. I’m saying that at some point after developing a base knowledge, the surest route to improvement is work. Writing is lonely, difficult work: mining your imagination, honing your word-skill, developing characters and story lines… Like a horse to water thing, no one can do that for you.
I don’t begrudge anyone attending and there might be a tremendous amount to solid input that week, but when the smoke has cleared, writers still need to sit down and write.