School's Out, But Not For You

Thursday, June 08, 2017
Do you belong to a professional writing organization? One of the big international ones, like SCBWI or RWA, or maybe even a regional or state writers’ group? If you haven’t signed up, then here’s what needs to go on the top of your Summer Vacation Things To Do list: join a professional writing organization. Because that not only sends a message to other writers that you’re serious, but it sends YOU the message. And then sharpen your pencils, because the lessons are just starting.


I am always amazed when I don’t have to beat people back with a stick at any writing event. Most organizations will host a conference and many groups will host several smaller workshops as well, and yet, these events are often under-attended.

Granted, a conference can be expensive. But the dividends will more than pay your costs. And workshops? These are often offered at a nominal fee or even free. FREE! I have to have a pretty darn good reason to pass up a free writing workshop. Like raging dysentery. And even with dysentery, I might just stuff an extra roll of paper in my purse and go. To the workshop, I mean. Because I paid my dues and I like to get my money’s worth.

So how do you get your money’s worth? On to the next lesson…


Yes, I know. You’re a writer, not a mixer. But I’m going to tell you a secret: you never know when you might meet someone who could end up being the best writing thing that ever happened to you.

I don’t mean that you’ll sit down next to Neil Gaiman at a book-signing and the next thing you know, you’re lifelong best buds. (If that worked, Neil and I would be texting right now.) What I do mean is that you might find yourself chatting with someone who’s looking for a critique partner in just the genre you write, or you might meet an experienced writer who graciously offers to be a beta reader for you. Or maybe you’ll find someone to sit next to at the next conference. The opportunities are endless, but you must put yourself out there.

Be friendly. Smile. Bring a business card and share it. You never know where your stretch may lead.


If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Trust me, there is always something to learn, so listen up even when you think you know it all. Then take that nugget (or reams of nuggets) home and watch how you and your writing grow.

School’s never out when it comes to writing, but it’s up to you to learn your lessons!

Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. She's a member of SCBWI Southern Breeze, and you'll find her pretty much when the doors open at any of her region's events! Come say hello!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Cathy--It's so often about "who you know." Those connections we make at conferences can be soooo valuable.

Thanks for the reminder/nudge.

Margo Dill said...

Agree, agree, agree because being around other writers really does help you be a better writer and WANT to be a better writer. :)

Renee Roberson said...

I agree with Margo--I was so motivated and inspired and then I let my membership to SCBWI lapse and I've been poking along ever since. Thanks for the swift kick in the pants. And I got a good chuckle over the dysentery part!

Mary Horner said...

Thanks for the reminder! You never know who is sitting right next to you!

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