Have you ever thought about attending a conference but wondered if it would be worth the time and money?
The truth is, attending a conference can benefit you in ways you might not expect. When I’ve attended writers’ conferences, I’m always surprised at the creative boost they give me — every time! Here are three big reasons you should take the leap and go to a conference:
Find Your Tribe
Do you know how often, in my regular life, I get asked about character arcs? Uh, zilch. Where else can I get into a conversation about plot points while waiting in the lunch line? Or a discussion on the best villains before the next workshop begins? When was the last time I sat at the same table as two poets, a songwriting historian, a romance writer, and a playwright? Hello?! This doesn’t happen in my normal day-to-day. You just won’t believe how good it feels to be able to talk about your craft, whether it’s writing, art, music — whatever. Your tribe is gathering somewhere. Go there!
Find What Works
So far this year, I’ve benefited from others’ beta testing, reader surveys, and product launches. I’ve been given permission to ignore certain aspects of social media… Did you know you don’t have to be everywhere all the time? My friends — some new, some old — have directed me to helpful podcasts, websites, and services. I didn’t have to go digging or begging for these resources; we all want to share what works and save one another from any wasted time, money, or stress. Conferences are a giving environment!
A new setting and an environment heavy with creativity will affect you in surprising ways. You’ll get ideas during poetry readings, during workshops, or standing in line for the restroom. During a seemingly unrelated panel discussion, you’ll have an epiphany about your work in progress.
Also, let’s talk burnout. Some days it seems like you’ve been doin’ whatchu doin’ for so long, and it feels like no one’s noticing. Maybe a project is taking longer than you anticipated. Attending a conference will let you fall in love with the process all over again. There are a ton of other people feeling just the way you’ve been feeling! It’s okay that the process is drawn out at the moment, because, gosh, sometimes it takes a long time to do good work. That kind of reminder is priceless.
If you’ve been going back and forth about attending a conference, write down a list of what’s keeping you from making your move. If, on paper, the obstacles still seem like reasonable objections, then maybe this isn’t the year for you. Make plans to address these road blocks and set a deadline to get to a conference, no matter what.
If your list of why-not’s looks weak and whiney, like mine often do, just go for it. You’ll be so glad you did.
NOW YOU:Did you already attend a conference this year? Was it your first? Leave a comment and let us know what you found!
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So far, I have attended one conference this year, Cole, the same one as you! What a joy it was to connect with you and discuss, not just writing, but blogging. And life!
Another bonus of writing conferences can be the opportunity to “pitch” projects to agents and publishing executives. An agent once told me it is SO MUCH EASIER to look at the work of someone they’ve met in person, someone they can be assured would be professional and pleasant to work with, as opposed to random manuscripts in slush piles.