With all the buzz right now about the upcoming Pennwriters’ Conference (of which I’m proud to be a presenter), I thought this is an opportune time to address the importance of writers’ conferences and workshops—whether you’re a novice, or an established, published writer.
Of course, if you’re relatively new to the business—and make no mistake, it is a business—attending writers’ conferences is essential. Why? Oh, let me count just some of the ways:
• Network with Like-Minded Souls: Writing is such a solitary activity. As we sit alone with our keyboards (save for the cat on our lap) searching constantly for the right words, sweating over awkward sentences, and wondering why we’re in this crazy business (except that we love it!), we need to be with people who understand. Not merely for the camaraderie, but also to learn from each other. To make new friends who love the written word as much as we do. To bask in one another’s successes, or offer words of encouragement after that dreaded rejection. One thing about writers, we are a wonderfully supportive bunch.
• To meet professional writers, authors, editors, agents—all from whom we can draw inspiration, education, and connections. Who knows? Perhaps one of them will be the perfect source when it comes time to submit our work.
• To keep up with what’s happening in the industry. I recently attended the Las Vegas Writers’ Conference and learned the latest on Social Media, Creating a Digital/Online Media Kit, and other topics I needed to brush up on. As much as I began this decade kicking and screaming into the 21st century, I now marvel at all the new opportunities available for us writers. And yes, I am also happily certain there will still be printed books in the future. (See my last blog).
Let me add a phrase I heard often growing up: “You are who you associate with.” Well, real writers tend to hang out with each other, and a conference is simply the best way to meet a lot of them all in one place.
Now you may think that you cannot afford to attend these wonderful events because of today’s economy, gas prices, and your own dwindling bank accounts. Believe me, there is not a writer among us who doesn’t know the sacrifices we make for our prose.
So here’s an idea. Let me borrow from financial expert, Suze Orman, and say, “Pay yourself first.” Even if you tuck away $10 a week, that’s $40 a month. If there’s a conference or workshop coming up in six months that you want to attend, you’ll have $240 by that time, and even if that doesn’t cover the entire cost, it will surely be a big chunk of it. I admit to using my credit card to pay the balance for a more expensive conference (especially when I have to travel, say, to Vegas) but I know I’ll get it paid off, and that everything I get out of a conference will more than pay for itself when it comes to building my career.
And let’s not forget the tax write-off. . . .
So with all that said, I hope to see each one of you at the 24th annual Pennwriters’ Conference!
I’m looking forward to meeting new writer friends!
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