Identify why you go to writing conferences in order to realize the greatest value from them
A couple of weeks ago I attended a writers conference, my second of the year. My goal is to attend two a year, but for 2016, I will make it three. While the reasons people attend writers conferences vary, such as an excuse to travel, a chance to see friends, or a means to meet with agents, I go for other reasons:
Learn About Writing and Publishing: My primary reason for going to writing conferences is to improve as a writer. I want to pick up pointers on how to write better and more effectively. I also seek to gain a deeper understanding of what it is to write for a career and learn more about the publishing industry.
Hang Out With Other Writers: I often think the only people who really understand writers are other writers. While our family and friends do their best to support us and give us space (my wife is amazing in this regard), only other writers actually get it. It’s good to spend time with people and not have to explain ourselves or our career.
To Meet People: Over the years I’ve made many friends at writers conferences. It’s great to reconnect with them each year (and throughout the time between). Plus I’ve been able to work with some of them in various capacities because of first making a connection at a writers conference.
Schedule Appointments: Many writing conferences make provisions for time to meet individually with editors, agents, and publishers. These times are invaluable. In addition, you can meet informally with specific people or groups after the end of the day’s schedule.
A Break: I don’t take my computer to writing conferences. I’m not there to write; I’m here to learn. I will write when I return home. A short breather from writing is good. Plus it lets me know that I won’t die if I go a couple of days without writing.
So after a two-day respite from my normal routine and with a lot of great tips and ideas, I’m now back from my conference and striving to catch up from being gone. I have all of my follow up work done, except for one item. (Though I am still working on my list from my earlier conference this year.)
It’s great to go to conferences and great to return home and begin applying all I learned.