Webinar Recording Sunday 2nd April 2017

Dear Writers,

Thank you to everyone who joined me on the webinar. Please let me know in the comment box below if the session was helpful, and if you have further questions.

If you signed up and didn’t attend, I would love to hear from you after you’ve listened to the session; especially if you would like me to try and respond to the answer you sent me on what you hoped to get out of the webinar. (The answer will have to give me enough information about what you’re looking for, in order for me to respond in a way that might be helpful.)

If you are new to A Writer’s Voice and have questions or comments about the conversations on the webinar, or if you have questions about your own work, write to me in the comments, and I will do my best to answer.


Links to Ray Bradury, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King mentioned in the webinar:

An Evening with Ray Bradbury
J.K. Rowling in Conversation with Steve Kloves
Why Stephen King Spends ‘Months and Even Years’ Writing Opening Sentences













13 thoughts on “Webinar Recording Sunday 2nd April 2017”

  1. Shelley,
    I just want to thank you for your time, your wiseness and the way you open the eyes of the writers around you.
    I’ve been struggling with a series of short novellas because the storyline seemed discombobulated, but after listening to the webinar and talking to you privately, my story flows.
    I’ve been able to finish the first novella, and the second one is in the working. And, what’s more important, I’m feeling happy with the results. So, thanks again.

    1. Anna,

      Thank you so much, and you’re welcome. I’m happy to hear the series is coming together with more flow now. More important is that you’re happy with your work again. I know you’ve been working on this series for sometime now and I wish you great success with it when it is published.


  2. Shelley-

    I wanted to follow up on something I mentioned in the webinar. I wrote to Mary about my halt in progress because I wasn’t sure which way to turn and she said that she should’ve clarified that my ending wasn’t confusing, it was that my secondary characters seemed to be taking over. I can see that from the conversation we initially had. We are going to work on this some more during the Writers Retreat she’s holding at the beginning of May.



    1. Ami,

      I’m glad to hear this, and thank you for clarifying it with Mary. I know Mary’s teaching style well enough to know that complicated endings wouldn’t faze her, which was the reason I suggested in our conversation that you go back through your story and figure out how to make it congruent with the ending you want. When you work with Mary again in May, if it is important for you to have the secondary characters show up as they do right now, the same thing will apply: their stories will have to lead to the ending you envision. Mary will help you with this.


  3. I missed this webinar on the day of the event (I was giving birth to a baby, actually), so I really appreciate that you made it available for listening later. One thing that jumped out at me was the discussion of following what you “know” is true or right about a story and forgetting everything else. There’s a book I’ve been trying to write for ten years, but what I really have is a world and not a story. I often have moments when I think I know what I want that story to be. I get lit up and follow my ideas for a while (sometimes just for a day, sometimes for months)–and then later, for whatever reason, I decide that what I wrote in the heat of that inspiration was all wrong. I go back and revise it until I don’t see any path forward anymore. I end up in the weeds, just trying to slog through, until I have another spark of inspiration that burns and dies the same way. I’m not sure how to end this pattern and find the “real” story. Thoughts?

    1. Hello Melissa,

      I hope all is well with you and the baby. Thank you so much for listening to the webinar, and you are welcome. (A somewhat longer response than I had planned follows.)

      I would prefer to talk with you in person rather than try to answer your question without hearing more about your experience. I can set up a private webinar when you have thirty minutes to an hour, so that I can get a better sense of the kind of inspirations you’ve had so far. If you would like to do this, use the contact form in the left-hand menu.

      Your answer to the question of what you hoped to get from the webinar when you signed up was this:

      A lot of my writing lately feels more like work and less like play than it did when I first started. I’m hoping to get back to the inspired playtime feeling without losing what I’ve learned in the meantime.

      My short answer is that writing is work, and all good writing is difficult. Moments of easy writing are moments of Grace. I feel blessed when they happen but I don’t use them as a gauge of how well or badly my writing is going. Feelings come and feelings go, but the work remains. I also don’t judge my writing. I never say, “This is good writing, this is bad writing.” I know when the writing is right for whatever I’m working on. The rest I don’t worry about. It’s part of what it means to be a writer: millions of words on thousands of sheets of paper or innumerable computer files that will never see the light of day.

      The other thing I would say is that the sense of play you refer to may be the freedom you felt at the beginning of your writing career because you didn’t know what you know now. Everything felt good because you weren’t making distinctions. But distinctions are important if we want writing to be a career and not a hobby. The more craft you learn, the more you know your voice, the more discerning you will want your work to become. Subtlety is a two-edged sword: it simplifies complexity but inspires us to express depth. To write deeply requires nuance and that requires contemplation.

      As for your moments of inspiration, stop editing them. Keep all the writing in one place–if you write in on scraps of paper, put them in one place—and then leave all of it alone. If any of this inspired writing is important to your world and its story, your subconscious will let you know in no uncertain terms. You will feel its significance. I suspect the reason you’re getting nowhere is because you keep editing everything before you know for certain that it has significance to your world and its story. In this way you are dissipating your creative energy on “busy work.”

      It is important to write down the inspiration as it comes to us, even if it goes nowhere, because when we act immediately we give confidence to our voice that we trust it. When we trust our voice we trust ourselves. The more we trust ourselves as writers, even if we have lots of doubts in other parts of our life, the stronger our voice becomes, the more sure-footed our writing becomes. It’s all connected.

      Try, through quiet reflection, not through forced thinking, to find out why this world still fascinates you ten years after its first appearance; such that you want to find out what this world’s story is, and why it is so meaningful to you even though you don’t know yet what the story is. One of the best ways to do this is right before you go to sleep. Ask your subconscious to tell you this world’s story. Trust that the answer will come when you’re ready to do something with it. It’s a little hard to say how easy it will be for your subconscious to give you the answers right now because the baby will take up so much of your time and thoughts and emotions, and your body too is adjusting to your new situation. But your subconscious will give you the answers if you let it know that you trust it as much as it trusts you.


  4. Hello Shelley,
    I cannot tell you how welcome this webinar of yours was. Even though I could not attend live, I listened to the recording the very first thing in the morning and thought Wow! The best thing ever – you said this – “Your voice is never wrong”, and it was like an invitation to be yourself, in the best possible meaning. I loved the clever idea of taking your values system and giving them to your characters. Your values, the things you hold most dear are unique; choose one you like/hate about yourself and give that to your character and your narrative voice will ring true. If I could just translate that into my writing I will jump for the moon, with joy, of course! The very next thing I did was listen to the Ray Bradbury interview. That made me laugh as well as anything else. What a great way to start the morning, in this case, in England in my house by the sea. Thank you for your generosity in giving us this wisdom and your time.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hello Frances,

      Thank you so much, and you are welcome. I am glad the exercise I came up with for my writers at SavvyAuthors has inspired you. In general, I am not fond of writing prompts or exercises as things that must be done, like homework. I prefer to write from my own ideas. But they are sometimes helpful in giving us new ways to think about old ideas. The post Your Voice Is Never Wrong, which I think you’re referring to, came to me in this way.

      I was working on a post for SavvyAuthors, which I’d been asked to write in January, as a precursor to teaching my class the following month. I had various ideas, but none of them really zinged for me, so I was still trying to figure out what to write when Gina Miller’s case regarding the Government’s right versus Parliament’s sovereignty to trigger Brexit was argued in the U.K.’s Supreme Court. I was listening to Lord Pannick’s (an ironic name if ever there was one) eloquent argument on behalf of Mrs. Miller when I suddenly knew how to begin my post and what I wanted to write. As Lord Pannick talked, I wrote my post and completed it in ten or fifteen minutes; with only minor edits afterwards, for clarification. This is by way of saying: I gather my inspiration from anywhere and everywhere and so rarely feel the need to resort to an exercise or a prompt. That said, I do have an exercise of sorts I came up with for my writers at SavvyAuthors that I want to post here at some point. Or I may invoke it as part of a free webinar.

      I look forward to our conversation together after your weekend with LondonLitLab. Have a great time, I know you will.


  5. Shelley, thank you so much for your time yesterday. The comments you made regarding my stifled voice were exactly what I needed to hear. I look forward to working on my manuscript on a scene and line level to let my voice come through.

    1. Thank you so much, Vonna. It was a pleasure to speak with you. I found your question inspiring and it was very helpful to everyone. Good luck with your manuscript and please keep me posted on your progress.


  6. I missed the live talk, but listened to it tonight and I must tell you, it answered questions I didn’t even know I had. My main concern is how long it’s going to be available. I need to perhaps watch it several times while I’m looking things over.

    Again, this webinar was really wonderful and so much appreciated. Do you give classes?


    1. Hello Peggy,

      Thank you so much, and you’re welcome. Everything I say to writers comes from my long struggle of often having felt like a square peg in a round hole during my years of taking classes.

      I do offer classes if there are enough writers to attend them. At the moment, I work with writers privately. I have offered a two-hour group session to follow on from the webinar to work with up to 15 writers (minimum 5). You can see the details in the post Reawaken Your Voice, which you will find under Recent Posts.

      Feel free to email me if you would like to talk for a few minutes about anything specific, since you missed that opportunity on Sunday. I’m happy to do that for you.

      The link for this session will remain up indefinitely. I plan to offer more presentations once I’ve decided which aspects of writing in connection with the writer’s voice I think might be helpful.


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