The new year is shedding the moniker new as we move solidly into February. More than likely those New Year’s resolutions are starting to waver as reality puts a crimp in our determination to make this year different from the last. What promises did you make as a writer? And how are you doing at keeping those promises?

Creativity is hard in the harsh glow of reality. Many of us still have real jobs that pay the bills. There’s nothing that will sap the creative juices faster than a 12-hour day at the office. So I went looking for ways to keep the creative muse happy this year, starting with a four day intensive workshop called Immersion given by Margie Lawson.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been to a one-day workshop with Margie in the past, and had taken several online classes through her website. The information can be a bit overwhelming. There’s so much to take in and apply to my work that I will confess much of it went into a folder and didn’t get brought out again until I was prepping for Immersion.

Immersion is exactly what it sounds like. You are immersed in an environment of learning. This is not a workshop meant to teach you about writing per se. You must be fairly well versed in plot, conflict, characterization and dialogue. You will not learn about the basics of these writing elements. What you will learn is how to take what you know and make it better. This is the next level you hear so many editors and agents talk about.

The workshop teaches you ways to deepen the emotional context of your writing so the reader connects at a visceral level with your characters. It teaches you how to add depth with your setting, dialogue cues and body language. Using Margie’s deep edits system, it shows you how to see if your scenes are balanced between narrative, dialogue, setting and conflict.

The best part of the workshop? My Immersion-mates!! (Go Bear Souls Immersion!) This was such a great group of ladies. We spanned the gamut of experience – new to multi-published. Pantsers and plotters. Different genres. Different personalities. But all focused on one thing: making our writing stronger. We also had plenty of fun, which made the long days of work bearable.

I also have to give a shout out to Margie’s husband, Tom. Such a wonderful man to put up with all these crazy writers invading his home. Not to mention a fantastic cook. He also went above and beyond by fixing my glasses that broke as I traveled to Immersion. Ack! And I can’t forget Calypso, the Dachshund extraordinaire that shared our writing space and napped his way into our hearts while nibbling on carrots and yogurt (but wanting bacon and pot roast which we totally did NOT feed him from the table while Margie wasn’t looking).

I came home more focused than usual about my writing. Thanks to the exercises and the brainstorming, I have a renewed sense of excitement about my book, one that’s been under the bed for a decade.

Next up is Central Pennsylvania’s yearly retreat in May. I’ve been fortunate in my many moves this past decade to always find a local RWA chapter that embodies what I love best about RWA: sharing information, friendship and education. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey to stay inspired this year.


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