If you have been writing for a while and feel like you want to level up, a writers’ conference may be for you. There is a variety of conferences to choose from, both large and small, all across the United States. In early 2017, after about a year of blogging and finding my creative feet, I prayerfully made the decision to find a writers’ conference to attend.
I was specifically looking for a Christian Writers’ Conference because my faith and my work are inextricably intertwined. Even if this is not the type of conference you are looking for, the information about some of the general benefits of a writers’ conference will be helpful for you.
Conferences will vary in cost and travel commitment. I realize not everyone has the time and/or resources to travel a long distance and pay hundreds of dollars. However, if you do your homework, opportunities are available for varying levels of investment of your finances and time.
When I first got the idea 18 months ago, I simply Googled “Christian Writers’ Conference”. Ironically, the one that is only about twenty minutes from my home didn’t jive with my summer schedule, so I ended up at one over 350 miles away. I’ve no doubt that my attendance at that far-flung conference was meant to be, which you can read about HERE and HERE. God knew what and who I needed in my life and provided it through this writers’ conference both last year and this year. (Love my St. Davids friends!)
So why attend? Why take the time and financial step to gather with other writers? I’ve consulted my friend Carolyn, who writes about faith and life at www.lifeisnteasy.com. I met her quite by “accident” (divine appointment) about three years ago and she’s been a blessing and encouragement ever since.
Carolyn was gracious enough to answer some questions about writers’ conferences for me because she has a richer and more varied conference experience than I do. Here are some of her replies:
Q: What did you gain as a writer from the conference, both in terms of information and personally?
A: Conferences afford many opportunities, from meeting other like-minded writers, to connecting with prominent authors in your genre, to sitting with professionals for conversation and opinions/advice regarding your work. The most amazing thing about a Christian conference is how everyone is committed to helping the writer, whether a newbie or a seasoned author. There is no embarrassment. During the one-on-one appointments, you can simply talk about your ideas or present a polished manuscript. It is an encouraging and inspiring experience.
Connecting with others and worshipping together is a crucial element to energize the writer in what can often be a solitary experience. The keynote speakers are excellent, and all have a unique style of public speaking.
Q: What advice would you give to someone considering attending a writers’ conference?
A: Go! Pray, seek, learn, enjoy! Go to the conference as many days as you can, preferably staying overnight and attending it in its entirety. Arrive early if possible. Be engaged. At mealtimes, look to mingle by sitting with people you don’t know, so you can learn what others are doing and make connections with them.
Order business cards in advance. Be careful to order lighter colors, and not with the shiny surface. It’s important that they can be written on. Have them handy and exchange as many as you can.
Bring a small notebook. After meeting people, jot their names down and a few notes about them and your conversation while it’s fresh in your mind. You may think you’ll remember, but you are taking in a lot of information over the conference and it’s easy to forget key details.
Network, network, network. This may prove invaluable in the future. Meet as many people as you can.
If you are working on a book project, have your elevator pitch ready and rehearsed. One minute may be all you have to make a connection with someone who could change your future.
When you return home, make it a point to review your papers and notes periodically to keep the learning ongoing.
Set goals and write down the steps of what you want to accomplish, both short-term and to present at the next conference. The next time you go, it will be familiar, you’ll feel part of a group with a greater cause, and you’ll be able to add even more to your knowledge and contacts.
My gratitude goes to Carolyn for her insightful advice. Though I’ve only been to two conferences, I concur with her feedback.
Your brain and heart will be full while you are there, so take lots of notes and let it all simmer when you get home. Don’t jump right into your writing chair the next day. Reflect on what you’ve learned and consider how you can implement your new knowledge and utilize your new contacts to grow as a writer.
I’d love to hear about your experience at writers’ conferences or if you have plans to attend one. Feel free to comment below and share your unique perspective with us.
Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.