Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 2-8, 2018

It’s been a tasty week for informal writerly learnings 🙂

Donna Galanti explains how to build suspense: meet your readers in the middle and they will come. Writers in the Storm

It’s been a while, but Fae Rowan is back with part three of her series on five conflict-making choices your characters can make. Writers in the Storm

Anna Elliott: heartbeats. Writer Unboxed

Kathryn Magendie is letting go of the negative dark cycle. Writer Unboxed

Greer Macallister offers 25 truths about the work of writing. Writer Unboxed

Therese Walsh: that time Jane Friedman’s advice saved my novel. Writer Unboxed

Donald Maass has some suggestions in case you’re feeling stuck. Stories don’t get stuck; only writers do. Writer Unboxed

Related: Kristen Lamb wonders if your story is stuck and offers five reasons your novel is breaking down.

And another perspective: sometimes it’s okay to quit the thing you’re writing. Sometimes you have to quit writing a thing. As long as you don’t quit writing all the things. Chuck Wendig @Terribleminds.

Rachael Stephen: Solve any writing problem (with brainstorming!)

 

Then, she argues that you have to define your theme before you write (and dares you to fight her):

 

If you have sloppy writing habits, K.M. Weiland shares four strategies to deal with it. Helping Writers Become Authors

Merilyn Simonds drops by Jane Friedman’s blog: how long should it take to write a book?

James Scott Bell takes his turn in the Writers Helping Writers coaching corner: where’s your edge?

Leanne Sowul shares seven lessons learned from tracking her time. DIY MFA

Sera Fiana recommends five self-care tips to improve your writing process. DIY MFA

Jami Gold: what does it mean to write layered characters? Later in the week, she reflects on how goals, needs, and false beliefs create character conflict.

Ellen Brock shows you how to plot your novel fast.

 

Fay Onyx examines five common harmful representations of disability. Mythcreants

And that was Tipsday.

Come back for your weekly dose of Thoughty on Thursday!

Until then, be well, my writerly friends.

tipsday2016

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Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, Dec 25-31, 2016

It’s a right mix of edutainment this week, but I hope it still pops your mental corn!

A Sudbury teen, missing since December 20, is found on Christmas Eve. Sudbury Star

Petula Dvorak: the Hannuka/Christmas convergence couldn’t be more symbolic of the light we need to embrace. The Washington Post

Oliver Burkeman reports on why time management is ruining our lives. I might argue that this would only apply to those for whom the skill does not come naturally. The Guardian

Feeling less than grateful? Some people are just wired that way. Katherine Hobson for NPR.

Emily Hartridge talks about her top four anxiety challenges.

 

Depression is all in your head—and now, doctors know where. Second Nexus

Alan Yu explains how a diet high in fat and sugar affects your memory. NPR

Becca Martin hates to break it to you, but you are the reason your life sucks. Thought Catalog

Madeleine Davies: becoming ugly. Jezebel

Bec Crew reports on a new Alzheimer’s therapy that fully restores memory function. Science Alert

Antonio Regalado: everything you need to know about gene therapy’s most promising year. MIT technology review

Phil Plait shares a fabulous photo of a lunar fogbow. Slate

In England, you can camp in abandoned medieval churches. David Wilson for Atlas Obscura.

I’m all about Immie (Imogen Heap) this week. Lifeline:

 

Canvas:

 

You know where to find me:

 

Neglected space:

 

Coming up on the weekend: I’ll be looking at December’s writing progress and wrapping up 2016.

Be well until then, my lovely people 🙂

thoughtythursday2016

What I learned observing the Business Expertise Advisor Curriculum

In between my wintery road trips and getting stuck in an elevator last week, I was actually in Toronto for work.

Last summer, while I was still an acting consultant, the opportunity to observe and/or facilitate this course arose. The initial plan was that two sessions would be held, one in January and one in February.

I would observe the course in January with an eye to facilitating it in February. Unfortunately, the second session never materialized. It may not be until next year that I’m able to try my facilitation chops out on this course.

It’s a long time to wait in the wacky world of facilitation.

Here’s what I learned:

1. The course is a very demanding one for facilitators.

Class1One of the facilitators, who had actually delivered the course once in the past, said she didn’t want to facilitate the course again. It’s a fairly cerebral course, and a lot of material is packed in to four and a half days.

The course is intended to be an introduction to the basic duties of an advisor and as such, it covers working on a virtual team, change management, interpersonal relationships, providing advice and guidance, teaching adult learners, and workload/time management. Things are pretty tight and there’s not a lot of room to wiggle. It’s difficult to keep on track.

Because the course starts Monday morning, the facilitators and participants must travel in overtime (something management frowns on), and the facilitators can’t get into the room until the first morning of training. I prefer to prepare as much as possible in advance and to keep activities queued up and flowing well. Having an hour or an hour and a half for set up would be demanding. It also means that I’d have to come in earlier and stay later each day to stay on top of activities and exercises.

2. The course is something that every new BEA should attendClass2

And, the sooner the better.

Many of the attendees of this course had been BEAs for years and had had the course on their performance and learning agreements for years as well.

As a result, we had a lot of great discussion about our quality control processes, technology, communications, and training. I don’t know that a class of entirely new BEAs would have been half so dynamic.

We also had a varied group of participants from different business lines. One of the big questions I had when I started out as a BEA was what other BEAs elsewhere in our organization did and how those duties compared to my own.

Even though I knew there was a BEA course, it was being redesigned when I started as a BEA and was only piloted to select groups of participants in the next couple of years.

In the positions I’d held previously, there was training, weeks of it. Plus post-training monitoring. I learned the role of advisor by doing it, which is fine because it works with my learning gestalt, but I’m sure for others it was a bit of a culture shock.

After the BEA level, most of the training is piecemeal and you have to actively pursue those courses if you want to take them. Task or competency-based training is not mandatory once you’re out of production.

3. The BEAs in attendance thought the course had value for them

Class3This was a concern, because, after one of my colleagues attended a pilot of the course years ago, she did not have many positive things to say about it.

The BEA Curriculum is a course where you derive benefit proportional to the time and effort you invest.

It’s also one in which the participant should have clearly defined goals and expectations of the training. When the modules of the course that hold the most value for them come up, participants are more likely to play a more active role in their learning.

I presented a short exercise about performance management. I prefaced it with Cathy Moore’s flowchart: Is training really the answer?

Once the advisor has determined that neither training nor monitoring is the answer, what do they do? They perform a needs analysis to identify learning gaps and see if they can devise a plan, working with management, to bring the employee’s behaviour into line with the employer’s expectations.

I asked them to come up with some scenarios from their own experience, and once we had a few, divided them up by business line to review a tool in the training package and see if it would help them in those performance management situations.

Several of the participants told me they thought both the flowchart and the checklist were great resources.

So while the BEA Curriculum was not an unmitigated success (I forgot one of the groups in a breakout room and they didn’t return until after everyone else had left—bad Mellie!) I think it was a good course and one that I’ll enjoy facilitating in the future. If I can remember all the tips and trick I learned this time around!

Do you have any facilitation stories to share? New courses learned or delivered? Lessons learned in the delivery?

Do share.