Kathi sits down with Christy Award winning fiction author Ginny Yttrup and talks about the importance of honing your craft, the value of community, and what you can gain when you invest in yourself as a writer.
In today’s episode, you will know:
- How investing in your writing career can benefit you.
- How important community is to writers and why you shouldn’t isolate.
- Why diversity matters when you network.
This episode is sponsored by :
Whether your negative thoughts taunt you only once in a while or every hour on the hour, grab your copy of The Truth About the Negative Lies Communicators Believe over at www.kendraburrows.com/communicators, and receive weekly reassurance and tips to help you minimize those negative thoughts.
If you want to grow your fiction skills or improve your overall storytelling ability, then join us at Writing at the Red House with Christy Award winning author, (AND TODAY’S GUEST) Ginny Yttrup. Ginny will share her insights and expertise with attendees of this writing retreat. Click here to claim your spot!
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Join us for next week’s episode (Part 2) when we talk about writing fiction!
Transcript of this Episode
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Communicator Academy Podcast #174
Fiction with Ginny Yttrup – Part One
Kathi – Well, hey, friends! Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God created them to be. I am so so excited about today’s guest. As we all know, I am hardcore non-fiction. I live non-fiction. I breathe non-fiction. I write non-fiction. I love fiction writers, because I feel like, sometimes, they’re the goofy cousin at the family dinner. They’re super entertaining. But this is the goofy cousin I want to hang out with all the time. You guys, this is Ginny Yttrup. I got to know her through both of us teaching at writers’ conferences and hanging out together. Then, she recently came to a Writing at the Red House in preparation because she’s going to be teaching a Writing at the Red House. I just fell in love with her. You’ve probably read some of her books. Flames. Words. Found. I love these one word titles. Invisible. Convergence. Amazing. Guys, she’s a Christy Award Winner. She’s a writing coach. She speaks at multiple conferences, and she’s my friend. Ginny, welcome to Communicator Academy.
Ginny – Thank you! I’m excited to be here!
Kathi – I’m excited to be here, too. It was so funny. When we were getting the registrations for the Writing at The Red House that we were doing, my husband said, “Oh, we just got a registration from Ginny Yttrup.” And I’m like, “Oh, no, honey. She’s going to be teaching at The Red House. We didn’t get a registration.” “No, she’s coming.” Can I just tell you how much that impresses me? When people who are as accomplished as you, say, “I’m going to keep learning.” I think some people feel like, “I’m going to go to conferences, until I get my book deal, then I’ll never have to spend money on a conference again.” And that’s not your philosophy, is it?
Ginny – Not at all. When I signed up for a week at The Red House, as I just told you, I’m the new self-appointed evangelist for Writing at The Red House.
Kathi – I can’t even believe this. This is amazing to me.
Ginny – I had already written six novels; published six novels. I’d won awards. I’d sold a lot of books, and was coaching writers. So, yes, I know quite a bit about writing, but I was feeling a little bit burnt out. I was feeling a little bit forgetful about why I had embarked on the journey. Writing is hard work, and writing a novel, 95 000 words, often. I’d written 95 000 word books. It’s a lot of work, so we spend a lot of time alone. We isolate, somewhat. All of a sudden, I couldn’t remember why I was doing what I was doing. So, to spend a week with other writers in a small group, intimate setting, where you go back to your roots and you share your passion with each other. You continue that life-long learning. It was an investment in myself, in my career. It was transformational. I can honestly say it changed the trajectory of my year and has changed, very much, my focus; my business focus, and even my writing focus, in some ways.
Kathi – Okay, that’s just amazing to me for a couple of reasons. I was going to say, “I’m not paying you to say this.” but I am going to be paying you, as a teacher, to come.” I know we’re going to sell out of your retreat very quickly, ‘cause we’re doing an advanced fiction retreat, where you’re talking about advanced fiction techniques – the writing of it – and I’m going to be talking about marketing your fiction. What I love about this is, because you and I are both multi-published, sometimes you are just writing for a deadline. “I’ve signed the contract. I need to. I’ve committed to this, I have to do it.” Instead of it springing up from a passion that God has given you. Let me tell you. One is a slough and one is a delight. If eight hours, plus, of our day, is dedicated to our vocation, and it’s a slough, that’s a miserable life. So, to be able to approach that as a delight and honor and a choice is a beautiful thing. Well, I can talk about how awesome The Red House is for months to come, but here’s what I would love to hear. You came to Writing at the Red House where we were talking about memoir techniques. It was with Susy Flory and me, and a bunch of fellow amazing writers. Many of them multi-published. Some of them brand new. It was very cool. I want to know three things you learned that week, whomever you learned them from, or just rediscovered for yourself, that you are using in your day-to-day writing right now.
Ginny – Okay, from a craft perspective, learning from Susy Flory was phenomenal.
Kathi – She’s a genius.
Ginny – She is an incredible writer, and an incredible teacher. I knew quite a bit about memoir, because there are many parallels between memoir and fiction. So, it wasn’t so much that I was surprised by what I learned necessarily. What surprised me was how it deepened the knowledge I already had, and helped me apply it in new ways. One of the specifics is, Susy does a phenomenal job writing, or talking about story arch. Of course, I know about story arch, but the visuals she provided, and being able to look at that and reset my mind and my focus, and the importance of that arch in a story and how to apply that. Then, take that arch and also apply that to my characters and their emotional journeys. It was just amazing. I was like, “Oh! That’s right!” It was so foundational to memoir, definitely, but also to a novel.
Kathi – Don’t you feel like she kind of gave us the secret keys to the kingdom?
Ginny – Oh, yeah. It was the secret sauce. Totally.
Kathi – Absolutely. It was like, “Oh! This makes total sense! This is exactly what I need.” I feel like, I’d never thought of writing memoir, even though I use memoir techniques in what I do, but I’m like, “Okay, I can see where this would go from impossible to, ‘Okay, I can see how this is done.’”
Ginny – And I would say that my biggest take away from craft and writing perspective, was, after she talked about story arch, I believe it was that session, or maybe the next session, she talked about story boarding and how to plan out the memoir you’re writing; the novel you’re writing; whatever it is you’re working on. I confessed this to Susy, I started to tune out, because I am a seat of the pants writer. I love the magic, if you will, of discovering a story as I’m writing. I love that tension of it’s almost like being a reader again. I don’t always know what’s coming next. Therefore, it’s a journey for me, as much as it is, hopefully, for the reader. But, I paid good money, so I was going to listen. I tuned in. I learned so much and took away so much value in a deeper understanding of what plotting can do for the author; what it offers the reader, ultimately. So, I’ve incorporated some of those story boarding techniques and those planning techniques that Susy shared with us. It’s really making my job a lot easier, and I think it will ultimately provide a more satisfactory read for my readers. It’s incredible.
Kathi – That’s amazing. You know, you’ve been doing this for so long, and to rediscover that about yourself. I love that you rediscovered something about craft while you were there.
Ginny – Absolutely. We can never stop learning. As writers, we have to commit to that life-long learning. So, I’m not any different than anyone else who was there, in that sense. If we’re open to it, we’re going to take something away.
Kathi – Okay, so that was the first thing you learned. What was the second thing you learned that you’re using day to day?
Ginny – One of the most valuable take aways from that week was the importance of community. I mentioned the isolation that comes with writing. There’s so much involved with the marketing and the writing itself. Then, if you have another day job, which many of us do. I’m coaching writers, so I have hit or miss relationship, but I had not taken the time to really forge relationship with other writers. I didn’t have my own group, my own tribe of people to bounce things off of, to go to when I’m discouraged. When you spend time like that with other people who share your passion, it’s amazing. I walked away from that week with connections that will probably last a lifetime. We developed a mastermind group with the group of writers that was there. We meet together twice a month. Okay, total distraction.
Kathi – I had somebody biting my ankle, so I decided to bring her up. Moose has joined the conversation.
Ginny – I was going to try to ignore her, but come on.
Kathi – She’s hard to ignore. She really is.
Ginny – So, anyway, those connections are so important. Then, not only did I gain a mastermind group out of it, but these fabulous friendships. Also, some networking opportunities. Things that would not have come to pass had I not spent that time with other writers.
Kathi – The fascinating thing is, and this has happened every single time at The Red House, it’s something we didn’t expect, that every group that has gone to The Red House, as a group has decided to come back. These are mostly strangers that just showed up at The Red House. Now, you guys? I didn’t know the word ‘cohort’ before The Red House, but you all have become a cohort. You’re planning on coming back next year, and catching up. You’re staying together all year, then coming back physically together the next year. That keeps you pressing forward. There is nothing like having that group of people that is in it with you. Celebrating with you, and you can whine to when there’s a hard day and you can go from there. Okay, you picked up new technique, or refreshed technique. You’ve got this community now. What’s the third thing from The Red House?
Ginny – Hmm. I would say the third thing is closely related, but the importance of networking outside of your genre, or your chosen field, in the writing world. I was sort of the odd man out that week. I was the novelist who showed up to a memoir retreat, so I was there with all non-fiction writers. What was so fascinating about that, was how much we share in common, from the passion standpoint, but even though we are walking different roads in the writing world, those roads intersect. There is so much value, for me, to step out of the fiction world, and step into the non-fiction world. Find those places where our messages intersect.
Kathi – It’s so true. All good fiction has some core of non-fiction. Your books, especially. You are very issues driven in the books that your write. So, to say, “Where do we intersect? Where can we cross over? Where can fiction be a great teacher?” Real struggles people have. That’s a beautiful thing. Find those people. We had some great opportunities come from that. Even me. I’m there, supposed to be teaching, and networking opportunities are happening all over the place. It was a beautiful thing. People who come to The Red House, I’ve noticed this over and over again, are incredibly generous. They are thinking about how they can pull others up. I don’t always get that at other conferences. I have several times, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t always get it. It seems to happen every single time at The Red House.
Ginny – Again, I think that’s two-fold. You have created an environment that’s comfortable. You put people at ease. When you come together in a small group, there’s opportunity for true relationship to take place. At a larger conference, some of that is hit or miss. We were building relationships, and whatever your focus is, in the writing world, we all share a foundation of having a message that we want to share. It might be a romance author who is writing romantic suspense, or whatever. That author still has a core belief and reason for writing. When we share those, we recognize how much we share in common. That we are so much more like than we are different.
Kathi – It’s absolutely true. So, Ginny has been sharing the three things that she took from her time at Writing at The Red House. Ginny is, next time, next week, to talk about three things she’s going to be teaching at Writing at The Red House. I am so excited. You guys, June 7th through 12th, 2020, Ginny Yttrup, author of all the books, is going to be teaching an advanced fiction course at our retreat at Writing at The Red House. You’re going to want to get in on that very quickly. That one will definitely sell out. Ginny, I’m excited that you’re coming back next week to share more with us.
Ginny – Thank you! Looking forward to it.
Kathi – And friends, thank you for sharing your time with us. We are so grateful you’re here. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.
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