Writers are in some ways a strange breed. We are for the most part solitary creatures, the introverted wall holders at parties with rich inner worlds to inhabit. We may babble in highly caffeinated mumble speak instead of English and not be able to string together two coherent sentences in our real world conversations. Yet take us to a writing conference and whoa, who is this person?
Okay, I’m describing myself but I’m sure there is at least one writer who gets this, feels my words and is secretly nodding their head. If you are that person, and you have not already done so, run, not walk, to your nearest writing conference. It just might change your writing life.
Reason # 1
Writers are your Tribe. Yes, tribe. And when you are around other writers the introverted wall falls away because you are surrounded by people who understand writing – all aspects of it. Which in layman’s terms means they “get” you in a way normal people will not. At least this holds true for me.
Reason # 2
Writers are notoriously known for being helpful and giving back to the writing community. (This desire stems more from experience – the helping hand they were given or the helping hand they wished they had – than writers just being a loving bunch, though most are.) Writers can also give a leg up to their fellow writers because unlike other professions, there is no one way to go about writing. Your voice is yours. You and I will never write the same story. We are unique, filled with experiences and life views that will shape not only our craft ability and how we approach the story, but the story itself. Therefore, writers in general are not threatened by other writers.
Reason # 3
Writers teach. There is more to know than beginning, middle and end. One must know the art of craft, story, marrying the two, how to get there, editing, revisions, what to do once you have a book ready for publication (indie vs traditional) and all the business aspects of being an author regardless of which publishing route or genre you chose.
Reason # 4
Keynote Speakers. There is nothing more humbling than hearing the process/road a successful writer has journeyed to reach their writerly goal. Golden nuggets are often tucked in their speeches. Bonus points if you are a huge fan.
Reason # 5
Networking. Aside from meeting agents and editors, you may do what I did – travel 141 miles just to meet people from home. Not only did I find my critique group, I found writing buddies and some life long friends.
Reason # 6
Exposure. Writers are readers. The business card or bookmark handed out along with a soft pitch that showcased you or your book could equate to a future sale.
Reason # 7
Fun. Conferences are like summer camp. You see friends you don’t normally see, have an excuse to drink that glass of wine, eat that decadent dessert or party until dawn.
In conference land, the introvert lights up, their world is understood and upon leaving there will be a tired, albeit sad realization that despite getting to sleep in your own bed, the real world awaits with all its glory and snafus.
If you are lucky, this summer camp experience will have you thinking about next year before you have even left the event. Thus prompting you to get to work, vowing to return the following year with a project underway (in my case published book in hand).
Conferences help us to stretch, pause, think, and revise our efforts to become better writers. Writing is an art, a craft, a marriage of the extroverted introvert or introverted extrovert. Among our tribe we can practice pitching, reading book excerpts, book signing, and all things writer related until perhaps one day when you are finally on the other side of the aisle, no longer taking notes but giving them.