Why You Should Attend a Writer's Conference

Saturday, September 20, 2014

© Ursula Graham | Dreamstime Stock Photos

After the discouraging experience I had during my critique at my regional Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators conference last year, I was a little nervous about signing up again. But after returning from my first day at the conference this year, I'm very glad I did. Here are a few reasons I recommend you attend a writer's conference, no matter how big or small:

1. You meet new people who share similar writing styles and genres. For an introvert like me, this is big. Luckily I had friends at the conference last year and this year who kept me from sitting in the back of the room and introduced me to other writers with similar interests. This can lead to new critique partners, which helps kick your butt in gear when it comes to producing pages and actually submitting your work.

2. You might have an epiphany (or two) about your project. This year I signed up for an industry intensive about using conceptual metaphors and similes in fiction writing. I knew this was something that could really beef up my YA manuscript, and boy, was I right. After four hours, I had pages and pages of notes and was able to go into my manuscript during the actual workshop and play around with the imagery on the pages. I already feel like my writing is stronger because of the extra time and money I invested in the intensive. The other epiphany I had was during a breakout session on writing humor. When I first walked in, I thought, "this isn't going to do me any good because I'm not really funny." My YA is very dark and gritty and my middle-grade novel has some funny scenes in it, but they are few and far between. After listening to examples of how to add in humor to middle-grade and YA books, it hit me. The missing element to my middle-grade novel, the reason why it didn't resonate with the few agents I sent it out to, is because I wasn't taking advantage of opportunities to exaggerate the humorous situations in the story. Again, I started scribbling notes and came out of the session with the enthusiasm necessary to pick up those pages again and make the main character much stronger.

3. You might finally get validation that you actually know what you're doing. As I mentioned earlier, I took the opening pages of my YA last year and stumbled out of the session feeling like a gal only pretending to be a writer. Despite that, I did change the POV of my story from multiple characters to one, as was suggested in my critique. This year, I paid for two critiques and got very positive feedback, along with constructive criticism. But the way everything was presented to me made complete sense, gave me hope that my project is marketable, and has me revved up to begin revisions Monday. If I had given up after one negative experience, I would still be stuck.

Attending writing conferences is tough. They can be expensive and take you way out of your comfort zone. But you can start small by attending local, more affordable writing workshops (like I did) and move on to the bigger events. I promise you will come out of it with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Photo by Jeanette Charlet Photography
Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer and editor who is already thinking of how she can squeeze in a 50,000-word book during National Novel Writing Month along with the revisions on her other two still unpublished books. She also blogs at Renee's Pages.


Marcia Peterson said...

Good for you, getting right back in the game! Hope you found some fresh inspiration from your latest conference. :)

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