Writing Conferences: Yes, No, or Why?
One of the debates you hear as people talk about writing paths is whether or not writing conferences are useful. Me? I admit it. I’m a huge fan. I think the fact that I’ve gone to writing conferences has a lot to do with where I am on my own path, with the steps I’ve made toward becoming a serious, committed, professional writer.
Of course, many of my “reasons” may very well be an excuse for the fact that I just have a great time at conferences!
I do think, though, that we can have very different needs or goals for each writing conference we attend, depending on where we are on our paths. It’s not quite a “stages” thing, but I think there are several different reasons a writer should go to a conference.
- To spend a day or two surrounded by “your” people, reminding yourself that you are a writer and that being a writer is wonderful
- To learn more about the writing craft and improve your writing skills
- To connect with other writers for a specific reason–learning more about a genre, doing research about someone in the publishing business, networking to locate one or more critique partners
- To meet an agent or editor and to pitch a specific writing project, hopefully taking your path one step closer to publication
For me, there has been a progression in the why (and the way) I attend writing conferences. I’ve been an attendee, just happy to escape from daily life, attend workshops, and mingle. I’ve been a volunteer, judging contest entries, arranging flowers, passing out water bottles. And I’ve been a speaker, finding out just how cool it is to wear a Faculty badge, to have another writer come up and thank me for something I said in a workshop. Someday, soon, I see myself actually sitting behind a table, signing copies of The Critiquer’s Survival Guide and, hopefully, other books, too.
I’ve also had the bad times–the pitch to an agent that felt flat, the foot-in-the-mouth with someone I had hoped to connect with, the interaction with the attendee who isn’t having a good experience and can’t help taking it out on somebody, anybody.
For me, though, I give writing conferences a ten out of ten. I’m a writer and a reader. So much of my life is just about words. There isn’t much better than being surrounded by a crowd of people who feel the same.
Don’t take my word for it, though. I did a little browsing, and found a few other “takes” for you on the whole writing conference question.
- Wendy Nelson Tokunaga tells a few things she likes about a few different types of conferences.
- Corey Blake talks about whether conferences are important.
- Grumpy Old Woman at Fiction Writing and Other Oddities encourages writers to attend conferences, but has a few warnings to pass along as well.
- Jessica McCurdy-Crooks has an article with specific advice and recommendations for attending a conference.
What about you? Have you gone to any conferences? What do you like/dislike about them? How do you think going to a conference might help you move forward on your writing path?
Thanks for the mention! I agree that it’s a lot of fun to be surrounded by people who love to write.
Wendy–it was an interesting post. I was happy to include it.
Yes, I love conferences. If I wasn’t careful, I could schedule WAY too many! 🙂
I always come away from conferences inspired. I love seeing what other people are doing, meeting writers who share my obsessions and learning from experts who are living my dream. Thanks for the great links!
They are inspirational, aren’t they? Have you been to the Santa Barbara conference? I’m going to try, once the book is out, to go there as a speaker. Fingers crossed!
Writers conferences make me a nervous wreck! Attended only a few before I had the honor to present at many. Both ways, the energy surge is overwhelming and I find I have to sleep it off when it is finally over.
Being surrounded by such anticipation and nervousness is not something that’s easy for me. Much happier safely ensconced in my writer’s cave. But that only works for me because I get to mingle with some of the most amazing writers during my critique group.
Hey, aren’t you writing a book about that…….. (ha, ha!!)
But you do wonderfully at the conferences. I’ve seen you! Yes, afterwards, decompression is seriously needed, but I do love the “up” while it’s happening.
I totally agree. The conferences I’ve attended this year to help me get ready to pitch my book Replacement Child have been invaluable. I’ve met some wonderful writers and also had some invaluable opportunities to meet agents and editors. I like your website! Take a look at mine and let me know what you think: http://www.replacementchild.com.
I’m glad the conferences have helped you. Pitching is tough, but you never know where it will lead!
Your site looks great. 🙂