During the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the pleasure of getting to know one martial arts friend a little better and meet his wife. I felt a lot of different things when they told me they read my blog and it’s been helpful for their children who are both pen warriors.
Weird, honoured, and shocked were some of those feelings.
It was also a reminder that writing can have lasting affects on others. The further one goes on this path, the greater the affect on a larger scale.
I thought that a post on getting started is in order. It’s a post for those who enjoy writing and are trying to take that first next step towards becoming more serious about it.
Now, I can’t remember how I first found out about the first book related thing I went to in Ottawa. It was a book signing for an anthology *I think*. It’s a bit hazy as it was around 5 years ago. I know Marie Bilodeau, Geoff Gander, and Hayden Trenholm were there. They were some of the first writers I met in Ottawa. Or maybe I went to something else and met Marie there and she told me about it. Perhaps the Small Press Fair.
Actually, I think that’s what happened? Anyway, around the same time, I met several people who were going to several writing related events and I just kind of started showing up to things and while there found out about more things.
Those things included:
1. The Small Press Fair
2. Book Signings
3. Conventions including Can-Con, Ad Astra, and several others I haven’t been to yet.
4. Prose in the Park (Ottawa’s version of Word on the Street)
5. Ottawa Independent Writers
6. ChiSeries reading series
I still go to many of these things, though I’ve been too busy lately and thus a bit too worn down to go to Can-Con this year.
Some other important things about the writer life include self-care and doing anything else that will help you replenish your creative energies. After a long weekend filled with a wedding, old friends, family, and walking by the water, I was filled with new ideas for new projects and tweaks for those in progress. Stephen King talks about this. He’s been in a band and done a lot of living that helps him have a deep well of ideas to draw on.
I also read a lot of writers craft books. Hooked by Les Edgerton is a good one for the first chapter. The Novel Writers Toolkit by Bob Mayer was also helpful. The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier and Screenplay by Syd Field are fantastic for screenplays.
One thing I do to constantly improve is try to pay attention to whether or not a skill is weak, such as writing dialogue or being descriptive, and I work on improving it. I’ll read craft books on specific skills to learn new techniques to try. It takes a lot to be honest with yourself about your weak areas and some writers don’t ever get there.
At this stage, I’m very interested in checking out The Writer’s Festival.
Now, this particular friend lives in the Peterborough area, so I thought I’d list a few events in the area that may be good starting places:
- The Peterborough Writers Facebook Group. I have no idea how active it is, but this would be a place one could ask some questions about the writing scene.
- The Literary Tourism page.
- The Peterborough branch of the Canadian Authors Association. It’s mentioned in this article on My Kawartha.
- The Peterborough Library. A lot of librarians read, but they also write.
- Writers Festivals. The Writers Union has a long list of these. The Lakefield Lit Festival is marked as being close to Peterborough.
- Colleagues can make a good resource too. Everyone knows someone who writes.
- A writing group. I met mine at the Small Press Fair. I feel like it’s good to have an idea of what you need in a writing group before committing though. Some get together and push each other to write every morning. Some gather monthly to offer feedback. Really, they come in a lot of forms. I like my monthly one. We touch base, talk about our goals, and give each other feedback. We have a wide variety of age, political views, and life experiences that I find adds a richness to the experience.
There you have it. I hope this has been worthwhile.