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Sarah Aronson: Highlights from Highlights!

Sarah AronsonThis post is reprinted from Sarah Aronson’s “Monday Motivation” e-news for writers. You can sign up for it here.

"Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks."—Yo-Yo Ma

Dear Writers,

I’m writing to you from New York City and I feel totally full and exhausted at the same time. I spent the last week (plus) at the Highlights Foundation’s Barn, facilitating a Whole Novel Workshop with a whole bunch of people that are so passionate about writing that they took big risks.

All of us (including the faculty) came to work. And dig. And play. All of us were willing to nurture our art.

We started with a quote I found about a year ago. It’s become something of a mantra for me. (I don’t remember who said it!)

You are not behind.
You are not lagging.
You are not supposed to be somewhere else.
You are EXACTLY where you should be.
Embrace NOW and go from there.
Don’t think that you have to catch up to something.

Everyone took this to heart.

It was inspiring watching what happens to writers when they are confronted with new ideas. After each lecture, workshop, and meeting, I could feel the wheels turning.

Here are some nuggets of wisdom that were offered to the group (in order). Over the next few weeks, I’ll probably be thinking about all these ideas.

  • When you are stuck, step away from the manuscript and play with your characters and situations. Doodle. Storyboard. Experiment. (That’s me!)
  • "When you find a gem in your manuscript or a section/idea/theme that really resonates, EXPAND it."—Nicole Valentine
  • "Opening MUST offer narrative urgency. Your language and set up must tantalize the reader."—Rob Costello
  • "Create DENSITY. Your writing must have richness and substance."—Jennifer Jacobson
  • "Cut artfully. Don’t waste words. The most powerful prose doesn’t waste the reader’s time."—Nancy Werlin
  • It must also have heart. How do you know when your writing is emotional? You are feeling it! Trust your reader. And yourself."—A M Jenkins

I have to admit, all weekend long, I felt a bit like Vita Sackville-West, a writer who entertained geniuses like Virginia Woolf. From day one, sparks were flying. Genius was in the room. Writing was happening.

The Highlights Foundation offers many AMAZING workshops.

They provide a most important ingredient.

And that’s really the message I want to leave you with today.

They don’t just bring great teachers, but also feed you great food, a comfortable place to sleep, and a beautiful view–everything you need to concentrate on NOTHING BUT YOUR ART. Kent Brown, Jo Lloyd and their amazing staff have created the ultimate safe place where writers can explore and take chances.

ie: Find the passion.

As I make my way home, I am thinking about how I continue to recreate that same safe space at home. For me, this includes:

  • not rushing. I want my writing to be the best it can be.
  • not panicking. Having a job to pay the bills makes a big difference to me.
  • appreciate and nurture my strong writing community. Without writing friends, I’m nowhere.
  • and a nice space. A pretty place. Minimal clutter. Some art. Some music. A comfy chair.

Today, start your day by paying attention to your space and making sure it works for you. I believe that creativity can only take place when we feel confident in ourselves…and safe. The place we work in makes a difference.

If you are looking to take the next step, please check out their offerings. And if you are a planner, we’ll be offering another Whole Novel Workshop next August.

Have a great writing week!

xo sarah

Posted on: August 19, 2015

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