Well I remember the last day of the final week of the Clarion Writers workshop. So many emotions- but chiefly excitement at all I had learned, exhaustion, and stunned surprise at how quickly the time had gone. Returning to the “real world” felt unreal, for nobody in my daily life had any notion of what I’d been through. Nor did I think they could truly grasp it second hand, no matter how good my description and mastery of telling details might be.

One thing I remember as the following days turned to weeks, months, and years, was the struggle with how to put into practice all that I had learned, not to mention the struggle to stay in close contact with good people from Clarion. These struggles have confronted me again upon completing other writing workshops. Here’s how I’ve come to approach the inevitable question of where to go from here:

1. Sleep. Intensive learning is draining. You probably need more rest than you suppose.

2. Write out a plan for what you’ll do next – which stories you’ll revise, which ones you’ll send out with a list of at least six potential markets, which new ones you’ll start. Include dates and time frames and word counts – what will you have done in one month? By Thanksgiving? By the end of the year? Even if you’re not an inveterate list-maker, give this some significant thought.

3. Share your plan with at least two people to whom you’ll be accountable for making progress. Your workshop buddies are obvious choices.

4. Look over the various writer’s tools and techniques you just learned and use them all. By that I mean try one per week in working on a story. Sure, some of them may seem more valuable than others, but do not discard any of them without at least an honest effort.

Best of luck to you all.

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