Finding my Tribe

On September 20th, I made my way from Northern California to Albuquerque, New Mexico to attend my first Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) Retreat. I was eager to learn more craft and apply it to my writing. I was so looking forward to the Story Genius master class with Lisa Cron, as well as the breakout discussions led by members. And those did not disappoint (more on those below)!

But while I went seeking craft and the retreat delivered on that promise, it was a writing tribe that I found. Being able to spend quality time with other writers that I had only had contact with online in the past was very special. There were breakthrough conversations about our WIPs, sharing of frustrations, hopes and desires with regard to our writing careers, inspiring stories of publishing successes, and lots (and lots and lots) of margaritas.

My background is in the non-fiction arena. I’ve spent years networking in circles with authors who write books to further their business brand and share their content expertise. I didn’t know what to expect in the fiction world. What I found was an amazing amount of support, warmth, raw honesty, and camaraderie. A tribe of writers, creatives, and artists with a diversity of experiences who all came together to connect, inspire and motivate each other. What a treat!

Seeking Craft & WFWA Retreat Delivers

On the craft side, the retreat included the fabulous, well researched, very-hot-in-the-writing-world-right-now, Lisa Cron, who covered her Story Genius methodology with attendees. She did so with energy, conviction and lots of humor. While the subject matter can often be dense, and I still plan to work through the content in the book on amore detailed basis, it was wonderful to have Lisa there with us live, to go deeper into the content, answer questions, and further drive the points of Story Genius home.

I admit that at times I felt that I wasn’t “getting it” and, yet, I found myself experiencing some breakthroughs with regard to my WIP after having conversations with other attendees post-Story Genius master class. I think the Story Genius magic was working under the surface, creeping into our veins and influencing us on a deeper level than we may have initially realized. I have heard this point echoed by many attendees as they digested the content, marinated on it, and then applied it to their WIPs in the hours, days, and weeks after the retreat. Many WFWA retreat attendees could be heard murmuring about their character’s misbelief, a-ha moment, or world view, further evidence that the content was sparking deep level thought that would last well beyond the event (or that those margaritas were kicking in!).

One of my favorite parts of the retreat were the group discussions, where so much sharing took place. It was fascinating to hear different perspectives from attendees, and I took copious notes in each discussion, as well as raised my hand to participate, ask questions, and interact. I felt like a kid in a candy shop! From labeling genre, to lessons learned along the way to publication, to a lively debate between pantsers and plotters, there was something for everyone.

The discussions on the last day turned to marketing, writing practices, using editors, keeping a positive mindset, and empowering yourself as a writer. I was honored to lead the discussion “Get Yourself Out There: Online and Offline Marketing for Writers,” and apply my expertise as a 15-year entrepreneur and coach to the writing community. I always go by the mantra that one of the best ways to truly get to know an association and its members is to volunteer, and I am so glad I did. I learned so much from that discussion and others. I was so impressed with how open attendees were about sharing their fears and challenges, as well as insider information about what has worked for them, with no worry about giving away too much or being competitive in any way.

And that is my biggest takeaway from the retreat as a first timer. WFWA is truly an association of crusaders and trail blazers, who in turn have become givers, supporters, cheerleaders, and motivators for all of their writing peers. I may have originally registered for the WFWA retreat seeking craft, but I am so happy that what I received was so much more. I found my writing tribe.

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