8 Take Aways for the 2012 JRW Conference

The James River Writers Conference, celebrating its 10th year, ended last night (10/21/12).  Here is the run down of our very accessible guests:

Allan Wolf, Adam Ross, David Henry Sterry, Arielle Eckstut, Lena Roy, Lana Krumwiede,  Molly Jaffa, Cherise Fisher, Tom Robbins, Alec Shane, Ayesha Pande, Liz Bicknell, Eleanor Brown, Erin Blakemore and more (I know I’m missing people, check out the conference page for the complete list).

This conference feed my soul and gave me a boost (for conference notes, comments and thoughts search for the twitter hashtag #jrwc12).

Here are my top 8 take aways:

  1. BIC – Butt in Chair – Writing is about consistency
  2. You CAN break the writing rules, but you HAVE to make it work.
  3. Every writer should try to write every point of view, whether it works for you or not. It’s all about practice.
  4. Agents are looking to be hooked.  Tantalize them with specifics but don’t give away the surprise.
  5. 3 ways of keeping on task as a writers: 1. Know what you want. 2. Write with enthusiasm 3. Keep track of time.
  6. With the exception of Tom Robbins, ALL first drafts are shitty.
  7. Critique groups and beta readers are invaluable, they help you see your story when you’ve been in the weeds.
  8. It’s okay to pass on an agent if the fit isn’t right.  Research the marketplace.

One last thought, Adam Ross said:

‘Stories cast a shadow. The end of a story should send the reader dreaming.’



  • A great conference! Thanks for recapping some of the magic!

    • Thanks Meg! The weekend re-energized me. 🙂

  • Absolutely agree 100% with #6. Quite often, I keep my first draft under lock and key so no one ever sees it!

    • That’s why we are always revising. 🙂

  • Great summary! And great to meet, albeit briefly, face to face.

    Here’s what I had to say: http://unexpectedpaths.com/2012/10/22/jrwc2012/

    • Maggie, it was a pleasure to meet you face to face. I’m sorry I was running like a chicken. Love your recap. I’m still processing everything and rebuilding my query. I feel so energized!

  • So fun! Did Tom Robbins talk about his first drafts? I adore him!

    • Tom stated he only does one draft. He makes sure each sentence is perfect before he moves on to the next. Thank goodness I do realize every one’s methods are different. 🙂

      • That’s amazing. I’m such a fan of Tom Robbins and have been since high school.

        I do have a friend in my writing group who has a similar process. He speaks all his sentences out loud, until they’re totally ready, and I think he said that the editor who published his first book only changed one sentence (or was it one word?). Amazing.

        And yes, the best thing we can do is remember we have permission to write however works for us!

        • Amen sister!

  • bic reminds me of my favorite writing quote:
    “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” -Vorse, Mary Heaton

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