Discovering the Magic of the Whole Novel Workshop

Jan 11, 2024 | Inspiration, Novels, The Highlights Foundation Experience

This blog post has been reprinted from an article from Sarah Aronson’s weekly Creativity Journal, with permission. (If you’d like to join Sarah’s mailing list, sign up here.  Thanks, Sarah!

“Instructions for living a life. 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished. 
Tell about it.” 
― Mary Oliver

Dear Writers,

Hello from Highlights and the Whole Novel Workshop. Every year, I am amazed by the magic I experience and witness at this event. This week, I have watched writers and stories grow. I have watched inspiration and discovery emerge. I have seen writers with the strength to persist and re-imagine and regroup and rediscover. I am seeing friendships and community form.

And I am writing, too. Drafting and discovering. Because when you are surrounded by magic and optimism and open, honest, uncomfortable discussions as well as celebration and support…that’s what happens.

This is what I needed.
It’s what every writer needs.

We can’t do this alone. 

The writers who bring their work to Whole Novel bring more than a story. They bring heart and a willingness to join together with other writers to help them find the treasure. The magic. 

And in the process? I hope they have all found validation, renewed energy, and most of all: IDEAS that work. 

Again: we can’t do this alone. 
When we help each other, we all thrive. 
That’s what I am witnessing and feeling right now.

Are you ready to stretch? Reach? Groan? Embrace the power of play?

Go to the chapter you are working on.
Find your favorite line. A line you are proud of. A line that speaks to the WHY behind your story. 

Read it aloud. (We’ll be reading aloud tonight.) 

Journal a bit about what this line says. And why you love it. 
Does it represent the inner journey? Does it reveal something essential? Why does it ring true?

Then put it at the top of the page and write as fast as you can for fifteen minutes. See what this exercise reveals about your character. Or your story. Or you. 

I am so grateful to my Highlights community for joining me on this journey. Special thanks to the amazing faculty: Crystal Allen. Alicia Williams. Erin Entrada Kelly. Rob Costello. Nicole Valentine. Nora Shalaway Carpenter. Ilene Wong. Alison Green Myers.

Go read their books. Please.
There words and stories will inspire you as they have inspired me this week. My flame burns brighter for this glorious week together. 


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