Whether introvert or extrovert, a writer often requires long periods of self-imposed isolation in order to create an ever-expanding body of writing. But every now and then, we need INPUT—remember Johnny-Five in “Short Circuit”—and one of the best places to find it is at a writing workshop or conference. Besides being a solitary species, we are also often misunderstood by non-writers. Finding renewal and refreshment from like-minded individuals is very likely to happen at writing events.
One of the suggestions I offer new writers is to join writing groups, either online or in person. We often hear about workshops and conferences through memberships in various writing groups. As a Canadian who writes from a Christian worldview, I hold membership in The Word Guild. TWG offers many offshoot groups including listservs, editing groups, conferences, workshops across the country and contests.
Another of my memberships is with InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship. ICWF offers similar events to TWG, and their annual conference is geographically closer to where I live, so I can afford to attend most years.
A couple of years ago I also rejoined our provincial writing association, the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild. SWG offers me excellent financial support for author readings and workshops that I present, as well as exposure to local groups seeking a writer/presenter.
Besides these Canadian groups, I also belong to the American Christian Fiction Writers, and one of their affiliates, International Christian Fiction Writers.
Once you choose your path (obviously, mine is primarily Christian fiction), there are many opportunities to continue to learn, grow, teach, market, and generally find support from other writers.
Organizers, promoters and presenters spend much time and effort preparing for these writing events, and we, as attendees, should also be prepared. Here are ten simple tips:
- Book travel in order to arrive in plenty of time to settle in before the conference begins
- Book accommodations near the conference venue (there are often discounts for attendees)
- If possible, share travel and accommodation costs with other attendees
- Study the schedule, analyze all information and decide what best suits your needs
- Study up on presenters and their areas of expertise; if possible, read some of their work
- If you have publishing credits, prepare a one-sheet
- Bring business cards to distribute as you meet other writers (make them yourself to save on cost)
- Check if there are opportunities to sell your books. Inquire as to selling fees.
- Prepare manuscripts for hands-on workshops, or for readings, or for editor / agent interviews
- Get enough sleep before the conference, and take time to review everything immediately after the conference, with plans to follow through on your commitments.
So join, listen, plan, prepare, attend, and look forward to some great INPUT!