No matter what you are interested in writing, chances are there is a writing or book conference that covers it. Attending an event like this can be one of the most exciting, invigorating experiences for writers of all levels. New and experienced writers both benefit. Here are six reasons why you should attend conferences.
- Community – I can’t stress this enough, writers need a community of other writers even if it is just for a day, weekend, week, or whatever. Being around other writers who know and understand the creative process is a must. The common goal to learn and explore can inspire new works.
- Variety – Conferences come in all shapes and sizes. Some focus on specific genres or types of writing; others have a mix of everything from craft to the business side of being a writer. Some conferences may offer workshops or panel discussions or a blend of both. Conferences that provide a wide variety of topics also has a wide range of speakers. The people presenting or sitting on panels may be other writers like you, or they could be agents, publishers, editors, or designers.
- Exploration – With the variety, comes an excellent opportunity to explore. When you attend a conference, you should attend at least one session that is on a format, genre, or method you usually don’t write. For example, I write genre fiction. Over the years, I’ve attended poetry workshops and panels on writing biographies. I’m not a poet, and I can’t imagine taking on a research-intensive project like a biography. However, I was able to pull pieces from each that improved my writing.
- Discovery – The conference will most likely have authors on the schedule to speak or present that are unfamiliar to you. Do a little research on the author beforehand and pick a couple to see. It’s a great way to learn what worked for them and what didn’t. Try those things, both what worked and what didn’t, in your writing to continue discovering your style.
- Availability – There’s a writing or book-related event going on every single week of the year. Ok, maybe not every single week, but there are a lot of them. Check your local library, independent bookstores, visitors bureau, colleges or universities, national or state parks, and more. There are several book festivals throughout the United States that feature writers talking about their books and writing process. Additionally, many states or regions have writing organizations that host conferences. National or state parks are often overlooked, but they will sometimes bring in authors as part of the entertainment for campers or are the site of various conferences.
- Camaraderie – Most conferences also include mixers or signings where you can engage with the people who presented or talked during the workshops, panels, and discussions. Conferences are a great way to network with other writers, publishers, editors, or others. The word of caution here: Don’t pitch your work unless it is an actual pitch session. Your goal is to be authentic and have an open dialog with the presenters and panelists.
No matter where you are in your writing journey, attending a conference can be the inspiration you need. Spend time with other writers, readers, and book people to refill your creative well. Conferences are a great way to explore different aspects of writing and discover new authors. I only list six reasons why you should attend a conference, but there are so many more. Feel free to add your reason in the comments.