Live First

6:00 AM

The Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop was almost two months ago. I can't believe it's already been so long! It feels like just yesterday I was squealing with six of my online friends while writing, word warring, singing TOP, and learning from the masters that came to speak at the workshop.

This year, we focused a lot on the publication process. How to write that perfect pitch, the process of querying, what exactly an agent does and how you get one, etc.

At the author panel is where the heart of this years conference was expressed. (At least, the heart of what I took from it.) 

It wasn't quite what I was expecting, either.

One of the authors (I can't remember who) said, "If you are given the choice between going out and doing something neat and staying home and writing, go out and do the neat thing." 

The reason I can't remember who first said it is because once the author stated it, every single one of them adamantly agreed.

Think about this, guys. Four NYT bestselling authors on a panel, and they all agreed that living needs to come before writing. Why is that?

We are writers, after all. We live to write.


Let's imagine that scenario. Your friends say, "Hey, so-and-so! Do you want to come to this cool park with us and hike?"

There are two outcomes.

You could say no. Then all your friends go without you. You'll probably hear some stories when you're hanging out about this owl that they saw on the trail and how so-and-so tripped and almost fell off a steep slope into the woods. You'll feel a little lonely, but it's that familiar writer loneliness. You made a sacrifice, and you got that chapter edited.

Or you could say yes. You could go on the hike. You could mess around and laugh and explore with your friends. You could breathe fresh air and look at the trees and see that owl. You would experience life first-hand.

Yeah, writing is wonderful. But writing will always be there. Your friends, the chance to go on that hike ... that only happens once. Sure, there are other hikes in the future. But each day is different. That opportunity cannot be exactly replicated.

Often, using time I could spend writing doing something else feels like a waste to me. I have this nagging sensation in my throat that says, You need to be editing.

But at this conference, I had to rethink that. And as we were focusing so much on publication, I got to thinking ...

What's the rush?

Why do I need to edit as fast as possible? Yes, I want to get my book published. But my book will always be there, waiting for me. The opportunities that come your way won't. They come and go, and if you don't snatch them up, you'll miss a lot of amazing experiences. Experiences are what bring our writing to life. Doing and seeing amazing parts of this world will bring color and richness and life into your stories.

There is a balance to find between living and never writing at all. You do want to make time for writing. But don't sacrifice every opportunity you have to do something in the world for the sake of more writing time. There are other times you can get some words down without having to give up your life.

So step outside today. Take a deep breath, and look at the world around you. Why are you rushing to write your book? I know a lot of people are getting published, and blog tours are floating all around the blogging community. That's amazing! Don't get me wrong -- that's so wonderful. But just because other people are getting published does not mean you need to rush to do the same.

Enjoy life before contracts and agents and editors. Let yourself write what you love, and let yourself live.

And now I will spam you with a few pictures from the workshop. (you were waiting for them - admit it) XP

my first time flying commercially!

My cousin and I treated my bunny to his own seat and complimentary airline peanuts.
He was pleased.

Chilling with Aimee and Kristana and talking about bookish things.

It's a little blurry, but this picture cracks me up. On the right is Shannon Hale, then moving to the left we have Sabaa Tahir and Ally Condie. All at a table, talking. And then there's Max, Shannon's son (far left) eating food. He was so funny and his open mic reading was the BEST THING EVER. The whole auditorium was laughing. 

Shannon Hale was so amazing! And she didn't slap me when I came up to the table and plopped 8 books down for her to sign. (in my defense, I waited to go last)

We got to meet Jillian Manning, an acquisitions editor for Blink/HarperCollins. She was amazing and wonderful and loves Wonder Woman and cats. #priorities We've also adopted her. Or she's adopted us? Either way, we're all now happily related.
And a group picture of all the lovely humans. It was a great conference. 

There are so many more pictures to post, but I'll stop my rambling here. In all, this years MYWW was a wonderful experience. Till next year, Minneapolis!

Do you find yourself in a rush to finish your project? Why do you think you feel that way? What are some ways you combat that?


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  1. I needed this post SO much! I've come upon some really bad ruts in my novel and I just want the silly thing finished. I thought up a plan of how I could have it done in a few months...then I realized how I had no joy working on it anymore. Writing shouldn't be like that. Sure, we might have to rush one day when we're about to be published and we're given a deadline for finishing our books, but right now, THERE IS NO RUSH.

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post <3

    (and I LOVE the pics from the conference)

    audrey caylin

    1. Lol I started reading your comment and I was thinking, "Man, she's so right. I really don't need to try to rush edits." And then I remembered the post that I, ehem, wrote. #awkward This goes to prove that I AM STILL LEARNING THIS LESSON. But I also really want to have my WIP close to finished early next year so I can read it aloud to my siblings before I leave for college. BUT ANYWAYS. No rush. We're both right on that XP

  2. AH, I loved this post so much! I think Katie mentioned something about the "live first" thing on her blog, and it still hits me every time I hear it. Because everyone says 'write what you know!' but how will you KNOW anything if you don't go out and DO IT? Google can't suffice for everything ('cept I don't really want to go out and get bitten by a poisonous snake or get my leg chopped off so Google might have to suffice for some things xD). And I loved seeing all your pictures! I'M HOPING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE IT TO MYWW SOMETIME (maybe 2018 or 2019 WE SHALL SEE) and it will be epic. Thanks for the awesome post, girl!

    ~ Savannah | Scattered Scribblings

    1. Yes she did! In her recap of the workshop. IT WAS SUCH A GOOD PANEL. I could have done a post on all the comments in the panel, but this one hit me the hardest.


  3. This is such a great reminder! :) Often we just rush rush rush for the next "big thing" or "achievement" and in that, it's so easy to get lost and forget to live. It's definitely something I need to work on. XD Love this post! <3
    (Also, it looks like you had an amazing time! I'm kind of jealous you met so many wonderful authors, haha!)

    1. You're so right. We want to check stuff off our list, don't we? *sigh* I'm not even a big planner, but I still have that drive. We can fight it though! Living in the moment makes everything much more enjoyable, and overall /good/. (and yes, it was amazing! one day, we will meet!)


    I always need this reminder. I tend to hole up, but how can we write if we never experience anything? Thank you for this. <3

    1. Ahw. Don't worry - we all need the reminder. You're not alone in this! <3

  5. As an introvert, I am a liiitle annoyed at your advice, because SOCIALISING AND GOING OUT ARE SO MUCH EFFORT. Buuut I can tell the annoyance is because I secretly know you are very, very right (much as I'd like to hide in my room always). xD Excellent post, Hannah!

    (Also, is Aimee wearing a Hawkeye T-shirt?? THAT IS COOL)
    Jem Jones

    1. Hehehe right?? It's draining but worth it in the long run. *pats and hands chocolate and coffee* anything can be faced so long as you have coffee.

      And YES SHE IS. She cosplayed as Hawkeye one of the days :3

  6. I often forget that it is important to live,and go and do silly things.

    Looks like you had a lot of fun!

    1. "Go and do silly things." I like the way you worded that! Silly things seem like a waste of time, but they keep life fun and enjoyable ;)

  7. I LOVE THIS POST. It's something I need to be reminded of often, that I don't need to be buried in my blogging and reading and writing all the time. I've been really working on that this summer, you know, trying to live and soak in life and my family and all the other awesome people I'm around.

    Yes, I have things I need (want) to do. But really, family and friends and church come first.

    Even if I'm exhausted afterwards. THE PEOPLING. :D

    Lovely post, Hannah. Thank you.


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