One Small Step: Winter Workshop 2019

It’s been a week since I came home from the OYAN Winter Workshop, a workshop for older students who have taken the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. It was a wonderful week filled with God moments, joy, and memories. This year’s theme was One Small Step.

 

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“When I first looked back at the Earth, standing on the Moon, I cried.” Alan Shepherd

 

Memory #1 My Critique Group

Guys, I had a fabulous critique group this year with some pretty amazing stories, from a Snow White retelling to werewolves (don’t let that scare you). Every day had us laughing, wiping tears from our eyes and screaming “no” at the top of our lungs. There are pretty amazing writers in the OYAN community and the future of literature looks promising. 😊

My own work has improved in that I was able to deceive them, give them feels, and sink their ship. I feel immensely happy — my writing has improved to be able to lead readers astray down dark forest paths. ** cue evil laughter**

Memory #2 Being with Young Adult Writers

Writing as a young adult is hard with so many responsibilities. At the Winter Workshop, there are other young adult writers in the same boat. There, we come together in solidarity, talk about our stories, and even do some brainstorming.  A bonus at this Winter Workshop was we had an hour of undisturbed writing every day, and it was so nice to be able to get back into my story world.

Memory #3 Sour Patch Kids and Tea

One of my lovely friends brought sour patch kids and tea for us during our writing sessions and it was literally the best thing ever. #writerfuel

 

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Memory #4 The Snow

On the 31st, we had a snow fall.  One minute we were quietly writing, till someone said it was snowing. Then doors were thrown open and we stood outside in the snow, wet, cold, and laughing. This southern girl was happy.

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Memory #5 Friends

This Winter Workshop, I was able to grow closer to old friends, and make some new ones. Friends are precious things. They are there to help you through a rough time, talk with you, lift you up. After going years with not having any, I treasure those that I have made through OYAN.

 

Memory #6 Lack of Sleep

The latest I ever made it was 2:00. Who can go to bed when there is so much to talk about? Tribbles. Star Wars. Star Trek. Home states. Very badly written fan fiction that has you holding your sides aching with laughter. There is no shortage of laughter at the Winter Workshop.

               

Memory #7 My Mentor Session with Stephanie Morrill

I knew I shouldn’t have been terrified, I know Stephanie.

But I was. 

Anytime someone reads my writing I break out in hives. But it was honestly the best 30 minutes ever. She loved my story, and I was able to brainstorm that dreaded ending with her.

 

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Memory #8 The Sessions

Not only does Winter Workshop have adventures with friends, but it also has some amazing sessions.

Mr. S talked about story beats, great questions of genre, and who’s telling your story. Jenn Bailey spoke on worldbuilding and magic systems. And Stephanie Morrill taught us about all the little things. I love to color code my notes but it’s very hard when you’re furiously scribbling down all the things.  So many notes.

Memory #9 God Mourns with us, and Wants Us to Invite Him into Our Mourning.

Mrs. S, a member of the OYAN and our beloved matriarch spoke on this. Never have I ever thought of God in this way. 2018 was a year of loss for me.  Of health. Joy. Friendships. And while I knew God was there, and there was a reason for all of this, it never resonated with me that He would be in the same room with me, mourning with me. This may be the lesson that I take and hold the most through 2019.

2019 is a new year. A year of new opportunities. New people to meet. And new challenges. But this year I’m going to take it on one small step at a time. With God. With my friends. My family.

And the new year doesn’t seem so challenging from that point of view.

 

Rebecca Morgan

What to Do When You Hate Your Story

We all get there at some point. We stare at the computer screen and hate the words on there. It’s horrible. Did we really write this trash? And how can characters on a page with no brain being controlled by us, the writer, suddenly seize control and throw everything into chaos? Seriously?

We used to love it, this story. The setting, the characters (well sometimes), the theme. The passion behind it used to drive us to our desks, eager to continue the story.

What went wrong?

Courage dear heart. You are not alone. Authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A. A. Milne, and Ian Fleming, hated their work. Jane Austen was so depressed that she didn’t write for three years.
So, what can we do when we’ve come to hate the story on our hearts?

1. Take a Break

You are only human. You can only do so much. Take a step back. It’s okay. You’re not a failure when you do so. Take a break for a few days or a week and recharge. Even God rested on the seventh day. Read that new book everyone’s talking about or play a game with siblings. It’s fall, and the trees are in color, and the weather is cool. Use this to your advantage and take a walk to clear your mind.

You’ll come back from break feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and rested, ready to dive back into your story again. And often, you may come back able to see things more clearly.

2. Learn to Not Expect Perfection

Everyone’s first draft has problems. Know that the first draft of your WIP (writing in progress) will have mistakes. There’s no getting around it. My current WIP lacks conflict from one character, and another character mentioned in chapter four is never mentioned again. Whoops. I’ve made notes to correct this in the editing stage, but the farther along in my novel I get, I realize that my previous work has holes that need to be filled, patches that need to be fixed.
My foundation is weak, but that’s okay. The first draft is you getting the story from your heart onto the page, spilling it out in all its messiness. Don’t worry about it being perfect. No one else is going to see it but you. Think of it as you telling yourself the story first, then the editing stage as you getting your facts straight.

 

3. Try Something New

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I’ve found writing in a journal helps me get past my rough patch. There’s just something about returning to the basics of holding a pen in my hand and writing on paper that helps clear my mind. If you type on your computer, try taking a break from the screen for while and write in a journal.

Or if you are a writer who writes in a notebook, try writing on the computer for a while. Feeling something new like computer keys might help spark creativity.

4. Write with God

Philippians 1:6 says, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
God gave you this story and only you can write it, no one else. Isn’t that kind of amazing? He will help you see it to completion – He’s not going to abandon you. God’s the Maker of creativity – He created this world in all its breath-taking beauty. When you feel dried up and empty, enter into your writing with God and ask him to fill you.

 

Question: What do you do when you hate your story? Let me know in the comments.

 

Rebecca Morgan

Journaling – The Right (or Wrong) Way to Do It

Journaling for me has always been hard. Not hard as in finding the right journal (there are dozens of pretty choices out there) but hard as in actually writing. I would make a entry, and in three months make another one.

And that’s just not how journaling is supposed to work, right? You’re supposed to journal every day, even if you do something as unromantic as put butter on your toast.

I did that, and the pages of my journal would be so boring IT MADE ME CRY.

Or my journal ended up looking like a scrap book, filled with quotes, word definitions, poems and much more. And dang it, wasn’t journaling about recording when you were in the depths of despair, and when life was a perfect graveyard of buried hopes?

My friend, let me spare you hours of agony and worry and let you in on a secret I wish I had learned years ago.

**beckons you closer**

There isn’t a right or wrong way to journal. There’s only one way:

The way that works for you.

So today, I’m going to show you how I write in my journals, because there are several.

Are you imagining me saying this in a Mr. Collins’ voice, bragging about Rosings’ many staircases? (because I am. Yes, I am a nerd)  

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1. The Poem Journal

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I was inspired to start this by my friend, Addison. I started it in January of this year. Whenever I feel the Longfellow in me coming out (which believe me, isn’t very often) I just whip out my British journal, and I feel like an Englishman as I write out poems with my fountain pen.

 

2. The Word Journal

 

You can see my original post on this journal, here. I love words, and since Ravenclaws are witty and love to learn, this journal is perfect for this.

3. My Life

Isn’t this cover amazing??

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This is where I record my frustrations, hurts and disappointments. It’s where I also try to list a few things I’m grateful for, because no matter what I’m going through, there is also something God is blessing me with. 

 

4. The Bible Journal

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This is a journal gifted by a friend, where I record God’s promises, truths, and a thought or two from my Bible study. If I had to pick a favorite, or rescue one from a house fire, this would probably be my choice. 

 

5. The Quotes Journal

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My grandmother bought me this one (doesn’t it look like a letter when you turn it sideways??) This is where I record quotes that stick out to me. Though I must admit, I’m bad about actually writing in this one. It’s easier to just click pins on Pinterest.😊

 

 

6. The Ideas Book 

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This is where I record book and blog post ideas. Tolkien scribbled down, In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit, on a scrap of paper, but I would have lost that piece of paper, so I have a book to hold those opening lines of books that may one day become famous.

These beauties are here empty, just bursting with potential. That porg one is going to have to be used for something extra special for many reasons, and because, porgs.

 

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There isn’t a right or wrong way to journal. Journaling is about you, recording your life story. It’s about processing your emotions, life, and writing down the beauty you see in the world. 

I like to look at it this way: journey and journal both start with the same five letters: J-O-U-R-N-. 

Journaling is all about the journey.

 

So how about you ? How do you journal? 

Rebecca Morgan