One of the best ways to grow as a writer is to attend writerly events. I’m thinking specifically of conferences, workshops and writing groups.
Conferences are places to network with people with the same passion for words that you possess. It’s invigorating to talk with other writers, to discuss writing and books and publishing.
Conferences are also great places to learn. You may not profit from every workshop you attend, but you may pick up a thing or three by being there, possibly by asking questions of the presenter.
I like to get to at least one conference a year. My preference at this time is the InScribe Christian Writer’s Conference in Edmonton, AB Canada at the end of September. It’s located within driving distance of my home, and I have a friend from nearby who also attends regularly, so we drive together.
I have also enjoyed and profited from The Word Guild’s Write! Canada Conference in June. However, I don’t currently have the budget for the conference and plane fare, so that’s not an option.
One year I was blessed to attend the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference when it was held in Minneapolis. What an experience that was to meet and rub shoulders with prolific Christian fiction writers such as Angela Hunt, James Scott Bell, Karen Ball, Terri Blackstock, Siri Mitchell, and many more. And then there was the Mall of America.
Choose an event that works for you and go! It’s a shot in the arm, a boot to the butt, an encouragement.
I’ve also discovered a lot of online courses that are either free or very affordable. As a member of ACFW, ICFW and TWG, I see offers of free courses all the time. These focus on everything from point of view to social media for writers, from character creation to plot development and everything in between.
I’ve even benefitted from free courses that end up being a hook to more expensive workshops. You don’t have to buy the costly stuff, just learn what you can from the freebies.
I also stumbled upon a website shortly after Christmas this past year that consisted of a large group of authors who promoted each others’ work with a huge giveaway of free e-books on writing. Some didn’t actually show up in my download file because of a glitch or mistake on my part, but I still downloaded a lot of good resources.
In my experience, a local writing group is also extremely helpful. Sometimes the best part is meeting with like-minded people, but often I come home with terrific suggestions for the work I’ve brought to the group for critique. It depends on the members, of course, but look around for a group that works for you. Share your areas of expertise with them as they share theirs with you. One important note: if you submit material for critique, make sure you really want it. Don’t ask for input and then pout or leave the group because it hurts your feelings. If you want to improve, listen. You don’t have to accept and use every suggestion, but consider them just the same, especially if you get similar comments from more than one person.
So whether you hop on a plane for a large international writing conference or drive to the next town for a workshop, take in what you can according to budget and time. Plan to bless and be blessed.