Viable Paradise – Tips for Future Students

The Final Viable Paradise post … for now 🙂

When I was accepted into Viable Paradise, the first thing I did was to hit the Internet and start searching out other people’s experiences and suggestions.  Some of those really paid off. So in my final post on Viable Paradise, I’m paying the favor back by listing my own.

  • Start With Reading …
    Reports from VP XIII compiled by Cath Shaff-Stump, one of the other Iowans to make the trip to VP XIII.  She’s done a great job of following all our fellow classmates’ blogs and journals.  Another good one to hit is the Viable Paradise Index, compiled by Pam Bennett-Skinner of VP XI.  She’s been working on all the years of VP so its great to see how its progressed and the success others have had.
  • Have  a Supportive Spouse/Partner/Friend
    I cannot stress how important this is.  Your spouse or partner or friend will be the person who encourages you to go to Viable Paradise, knowing that all the while, they’ll be back home shouldering your load of the daily household chores.  They’ll also keep you grounded when things get a little rough mid-week.  Being able to talk to Steph on a daily basis through Skype was a god-send.

    Note – As Linda points out in the comments, it’s certainly not necessary to have a spouse/partner/friend to survive VP.  In my case, it helped out quite a bit.  But it’s completely possible to have a mind blowing experience without one and the Staff and your fellow students will be more than happy to provide you with support.

  • Bring a Digital Recorder
    Since I have a habit of being distracted by shiny objects, recording the lectures and One-on-Ones let me go back and see what I missed.  I missed a few of the collegiums, but luckily Brent was doing his own recording and is getting me copies of those.  Important Note – Use this only for personal purposes, not to post on the Internet or make into a Podcast.  You will be eaten alive and scorned for the rest of your life if you do that.
  • Take Your Vitamins and Get Some Exercise
    Orange Juice and Echinicea.  I suspect that downing both of these in great quantities was the reason why I didn’t get sick during VP week.  You’ll be operating on very little sleep and surrounded by other people.  Take precautions and be smart.  Also, get out for those forced marches.  Yeah, 6:30am is a bit on the early side but you’ll feel better for it.  If you don’t want to get up then, go out later in the day when you’ve got a chance.  Your body and mind will appreciate it.
  • Don’t Be a Wallflower
    I’m not naturally an outgoing person.  I had this fear that I’d sit in the corner and listen and watch and never interact.  Don’t do that.  I still waffle on what was the greatest experience – listening to the lectures, the one-on-ones, or the time I spent with my fellow classmates.  Getting out and talking to them was incredible.  When the instructors say that their doors are open all the time, believe them and drop in for a chat now and then.
  • Polish Your Work
    Find a Drill Sarge and learn how to polish your boots.  Then apply that to your manuscript.  Some of the people who attended got in via the Waiting List.  They had incredible works.  If that got them put onto the Waiting List, imagine how good it has to be to get accepted straight away.
  • Seek Out Advice, Seek Out One-On-Ones
    Every student is given two One-on-Ones.  Want a third?  Ask for it.  Want a fourth?  Ask for it.  I don’t know of anyone who was turned down.  It was during the One-on-Ones that the hard questions were asked, the questions that you have to be able to answer or the reader won’t know.    Likewise, seek out your fellow classmates and just chat with them.  My class had people from all over the United States and a few European countries too.  Those are vastly different viewpoints that you might not get at home.

Is there other stuff?  I’m sure there is but I can’t remember it all right now.  And some things are better learned through experience.  Got a question?  Just ask.