“The answer to all writing, to any career for that matter, is love.”
Though I have been in the writing field for about two decades, it was just this past year I started to attend writing conferences. I have attended workshops, but never day-long conferences. Trust me when I say I am kicking myself for not attending these events sooner.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Detroit Working Writers‘ Conference, and back in October, I attended a portion of the Rochester Writers‘ Conference. The information, ideas and networking opportunities were invaluable.
Excuses to not attend are easy to come by when you are balancing work and family. But if you are truly seeking to hone your craft, attending workshops and conferences is a must. Why are these so vital? If you think about it, many career fields have advanced learning requirements because things such as curriculum, technology and medical care advance and evolve. Although writing may not advance and evolve in the same manner, there are definitely changes in this field, such as the shrinking of some print media markets and the proliferation of digital media (e-books, online news, Ted Talks, etc.).
During one of the breaks, I compiled a list of the reasons one should attempt to attend writing conferences, workshops, retreats and blogging conferences. This list actually started as a writing prompt for one of the classes I attended. (I think the instructor would be proud!)
Top Ten Reasons to Attend Writing Conferences:
- It is so nice to see people in real life! Though we keep in contact through social media and email, there is nothing nicer than a handshake or a hug. People tend to share more of themselves in these intimate settings, which makes me appreciate their writing and dedication even more.
- Most conferences offer contests, and this is a great way to push yourself to write under the threat of a deadline and word count. Plus, it is great practice for submitting your work for publication.
- Several of the moderators of the workshops I attended have their attendees write a quick prompt. Again, this is another way to push yourself in an area you may not be familiar with or comfortable in writing.
- There’s an overriding feeling of “we’re all in this together,” and I find that people are willing to go that extra mile to help a fellow writer – or, better yet – encourage a new writer!
- It is almost impossible to leave a conference without having a zillion ideas floating through one’s head. Writers are used to carrying a notebook around to jot down their ideas, so you will be in good company as you are jotting away in yours.
- Though the day is long, the euphoria of all the personal connections, stories and writing ideas will have you dreaming of even more essays, poems and books to write. The endorphins will flow almost as fast as the outline of your next book!
- Now, don’t be afraid because I mention “Public Speaking.” I took a workshop a few years ago, and this skill is extremely valuable for writers. One may never have the need to speak from a podium, but interacting in a workshop from the safety of your chair is speaking in public! Contributing in this manner at a conference is great practice. Each time you hear your own voice, you become more comfortable and confident.
- My phone was off for almost six hours (though I responded to a text from a family member during the lunch break.) That may not sound like much, but it felt like a mini-vacation from email and social media. It was great to be able to focus on the now.
- When you work on writing prompts or engage in dialogue, and as you listen to other writers, you will begin to hear your own voice. Everyone has a special way of sharing a particular event in their life.
- It is easy to become discouraged as a writer. For the most part, we work alone. It can be a very secluded life, peppered with rejection letters and emails. When you spend time with writers who have succeeded in becoming published, they reinforce that your dreams can become a reality. There is nothing more motivating that having your peers cheer you on, and mentors ready and willing to help.
“It is easy to become discouraged as a writer. For the most part, we work alone.” [tweet this]
I could write even more, but I think these top ten reasons should suffice. If you are looking for writing workshops in your area, my first suggestion would be to check with your local library. Another place to look are colleges in your town. A quick Google search will yield conferences basically all over the world.
And I don’t know about you, but I think I’d be up for a writing conference in, oh, say, Italy? England? France?
“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.”
© Lynne Cobb – 2015
Do you attend writing conferences or workshops on a regular basis? If you have not, are you going to try attend one soon? Share in the comment section!