Writing Conferences…why should a writer bother attending them?
Good question. But you know my answer already because if it was a no, why would I waste time to write this blog post? I would sleep. I like sleep.
Why should writers bother with writing conferences? Two reasons in no particular order…
First, no one understands what writers go through, except other writers. No matter how much your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, life partner, or small furry animal loves you…they’ll never understand what you’re going through. The moment you complain about how your key scene in act one needs more internal conflict or how you dread rewriting all your third-person narrative into first-person because you’re convinced it’s the right thing to do…your loved one will give you a blank stare.
Or they’ll say…
“You’re a great writer. You’ll think of something.”
You know they mean well, but that’s not helpful.
Writing conferences are awesome because it’s the one place where writers can talk about writing and everyone around you understands. Writing conferences are like that bar on the 80’s TV show Cheers, everyone there knows your name, figuratively. They know what you’ve been through because most of them have worn your writer’s shoes. They know how hard it is. They might have rewritten a book from third-person to first-person and they might have learned a short-cut you can use to take the sting out of your rewrite. They might know how to approach an agent. They might know how to write a query-letter. They might even know a cool new way to introduce internal conflict in a scene you’re struggling with.
Writers understand other writers. And since gathering shy writers together in a public setting is about as hard as herding squirrels…any opportunity to step into your writer’s bar, have a drink, and talk shop is something a writer should jump at.
I guarantee you’ll feel better and get a much-needed boost to your writing brain.
Second reason you should go to a writing conference…networking.
Yuck! Dirty word! No!!!!!!!
Chill out. Networking doesn’t mean being a salesman. It means…listening…to people. That’s all. Get to know everyone you meet. What do they write? Who do they like to read? Find the person under the stranger you’re meeting. Get them to talk and listen. Maybe they’re just another writer like you. Maybe they’re a New York lit agent presenting at the conference. It doesn’t matter who that person is…talk and listen to them.
Next, think about how you can help them, not how they can help you. Is that lit agent looking for a zombie-mermaid paranormal romance? You don’t write that, but this nice lady you met at a session yesterday does have a manuscript like that. Help introduce them.
Is that new writer expressing trouble with writing in first-person? Offer advice or a good book on the subject. Help them.
Why should you network? Because you’ll need help on your writing career. Lots of help. Doesn’t matter if you’re pursuing traditional publishing or indie publishing, the same rule applies. I can’t tell you how many times my friends came to my rescue when I needed their help. A free beta read? No problem. Offering me a free interview on their book blog during my launch without me asking them? No problem. A famous young adult author helps me set up a Q&A session with them and their agent to help my other writer friends? No problem.
It’s a great feeling when friends do that. It makes you want to help them even more.
And then they help you more.
You see where I’m going with this?
Give to others without expectations and the smart ones will reciprocate. That’s networking.
And where’s a great place to network and learn from lots of writers and people in publishing?
You know the answer.
If you would like to network with me and my friends…our chapter of SCBWI is having a children’s writing conference on Saturday, April 16 in Oklahoma City. You can get all the details clicking on the banner below. You don’t have to be a SCBWI member to go. You just have to love writing for kids/teens and you want to get serious about it.
Hope to see you there!