Jot IV – Mark Your Calendars

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My writers group, The Weaklings, met recently to discuss the next Jot Writers Mini-Conference. I thought I’d tell you what we know so far.

Jot IV or Jot 4 (which one do you like better?) will take place on Friday, September 12th at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI from 7pm – 11pm. The price, as it has always been, will be nothing. The value will be considerably more (hopefully).

At the moment, only a few of our speakers have been confirmed. We’ll have veteran Jot speaker and editor at Discovery House Publishers, Andrew Rogers, and we just signed on blogger and Houzz.com writer, Alison Hodgson. We have two more speakers that we’re still bullying into agreements, so stay tuned for those.

For past attendees, we’re excited to announce that Baker Book House has agreed to expand the stage area of the store to accommodate our ever-growing audience. We’re still trying to figure out what to do with parking. I know that a few people couldn’t find spots at Jot 3 so they turned around. Maybe it would be good for a few of you to carpool. Make a writing friend and come together.

Last, we are excited to announce that we are expanding our workshops. Matthew Landrum, poetry editor for Structo Magazine, will again lead a workshop on poetry. I’ll be leading a blogging workshop. And we have a third workshop that I’ll announce at a later date. All the workshops will run simultaneously after the main presentations.

If you’ve never been to a Jot Mini-Conference before, here’s what you need to know. We’ve tried to condense the writers conference experience into one night. We make it short because we know that writers have full-time jobs and families and that time is a limited resource. And we make it free because we know how expensive most writers conferences are. And if those things aren’t unique enough, we also incorporate some writing time into the evening so you can practice what you’ve learned right away.

The goals of Jot and the motto are the same: Meet. Write. Learn.

Mark your calendars now and we’ll see you on September 12th!

PS – I’ve decided that the Jot logo is in sore need of an update. Would you like a chance to vote on designs or submit your own? Tell me in the comments below.

Jot Update | Cool Things are Happening

jotThings are shaping up well for Jot. We have confirmed our lineup, and as soon as I get a chance, I’ll be updating the Jot site to reflect the changes. Until then, you get advance notice!

We’re still working on the exact times when each session will start, but here are the basics:

Andrew Rogers (Zondervan Marketing) – Book Proposals

Bob Evenhouse (Indie Author) – The Writing Life

Josh Mosey (Blogger) – Flash Fiction: A How-To

Matthew Landrum (Poetry Editor of Structo Magazine) – Eyes and Ears: Finding Your Material/Your Material Finding You.

Q & A with Chad R. Allen (Editorial Director of Baker Books) – Stay tuned for how to submit your questions.

We are super excited to have Chad Allen on board for the evening events. One thing that writers conference attendees hope to see is an editor from a major publishing house. Chad certainly fits the bill. His blog is full of excellent information about the publishing process and his new series of posts on crafting book proposals is a must-read for any hopeful author.

But the good new doesn’t stop there.

Baker Book House and Icons Coffee have both donated gift cards that we’ll be giving away at the conference. Simply drop your name into the bucket when you arrive and you might win! And if that isn’t enough, enjoy this coupon from Icons Coffee, good for the night of the conference only.

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Obviously, it is a better deal to get a free drink than a dollar off, so why not bring a friend to Jot?

According to the Facebook Event Page for Baker Book House, 22 people have committed to attending Jot, and 11 people are still considering the matter. That’s pretty cool! If you are thinking about attending, make sure that you let us know so we can make the right number of handouts and such.

Thanks to everyone who has encouraged us so far. We are hoping for a good night and a good turnout! Maybe we’ll see you there!

A Monty Python Fan’s View of Writing in Groups

I’m a pretty big Monty Python fan. I wanted to share this because as a member of a writer’s group, I found insight in Eric’s experience of writing with others.

Now, I realize that Eric Idle was writing comedy sketches to be performed with other members of the Monty Python troupe, but the process of writing in the same room as someone else is the same.

My own writer’s group, the Weaklings, is made up of very different types of writers. I write flash fiction and YA fantasy and I work best in public settings while listening to music. My friend Bob writes epic fantasy tomes and can seemingly write anywhere with anything going on. Andrew writes in silence and preferably in seclusion. And Matt writes poetry, which is as far from my understanding as writing upside-down while wearing a pink tutu (I don’t actually know Matt’s process that well, so maybe he does this).

During the 3-day Novel Contest, however, we all write together in the same room. When we write communally, there is a synergy of ideas, a free-flowing exchange of new perspectives that brings out the best in our work. When I get stuck in my manuscript, I shout out the problem to the world at large and my writing friends shout ideas back to me. When they write themselves into a corner, they shout out and I shout back.

Those of us who need music use headphones. And when our eyes begin to melt from staring at the screen for too long, we stop and eat together, encouraging each other along the way.

I say all that to say this: a good writer’s group has been vital to my experience as a writer. There are some folks out there who say that writing is a solitary journey of hardship, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Sure, when you are putting pen to paper, it is your hands following the instructions from your brain and you have the ultimate freedom to make your story do what you want it to, but there is value in sharing the experience.

If I am allowed to give a little advice, write with someone else this week. Maybe you’ll be frustrated by how they plan out every little detail before figuring out the larger story. Maybe you’ll both have such a good time together you won’t get any writing done. Maybe you’ll write in silence and question why you invited the person along in the first place. And maybe you’ll find someone who you can bounce ideas off and it will make your writing come alive.