Writing conferences: Why they are important and how to find them
Writing conferences allow authors to improve their skills, network with industry professionals, and more. That’s why it’s worth researching upcoming events.
Table of Contents
- Why Writing Conferences Are Important
- The Benefits of Going to Writing Conferences
- Tips for Finding Writing Conferences to Attend
Why Writing Conferences Are Important
“For me, conferences are like little mental vacations: a chance to go visit an interesting place for a couple of days, and come back rested and refreshed with new ideas and perspectives.”
— Erin McKean
Despite the fact that writing conferences have continued to grow in popularity over the years, some authors still opt to stay home each time such an event takes place.
We’re here to tell you that if this is your approach (or lack thereof), then you could be missing out on a HUGE opportunity to improve your writing and further your career.
Writing conferences are designed specifically for authors. The best ones are set up to provide attendees with the tools they need to navigate the complex world of authorship.
As a writer, your job is just that — to write. However, it’s also vital to the success of your career that you take advantage of every opportunity to learn more about your craft.
(And that includes attending conferences when you have the time and resources to do so.)
After all, the path to becoming a professional writer can be extremely rocky when you struggle to develop your own voice or get your work published …
But when you carve out time in your schedule to attend even just one industry-related event per year, you’ll find that the path you’re walking on becomes much smoother.
Plus, you’ll be able to reap a number of benefits that you simply wouldn’t get by sitting at home.
The Benefits of Going to Writing Conferences
1. You can improve your writing skills.
Writing conferences are great because they typically offer a wide range of formal workshops, expert-led discussions, and unstructured breakout sessions — all of which are geared toward helping writers get better at their craft.
Sure, there are plenty of resources out there that can shed some light on proper grammar, character development, and more, but the value of an in-person learning experience shouldn’t be overlooked.
Attending such an event gives you the opportunity to gain insight from fellow writers who have spent years honing their skills.
Hearing about their triumphs and failures can give you the inspiration you need to keep writing. It may even help you overcome a story hurdle that’s been bugging you for weeks (or even months)!
2. You can get outside feedback on your work.
Chances are you send every new chapter of your book to a select group of people for feedback, but it never hurts to get some additional input. Attending industry-related events allows you to do just that.
Most writing conferences include some type of consultation component—one-on-one coaching or small group sessions.
In both cases, you’re able to have your manuscript critiqued by someone with fresh eyes and an unbiased view of your work.
By getting outside feedback, you can find out…
- If any of your characters need more depth
- If it’s worth changing the POV in your story
- If there are any plot holes you missed
- If your book is interesting to others
Going to such an event and having your work looked at by new people ensures that you don’t get stuck in a rut.
Plus, it allows you to correct any issues that might otherwise prevent your work from being a success.
3. You can pitch and network with those in the publishing industry.
Another benefit of attending writing conferences is that you’ll get a chance to meet (albeit briefly) with agents and editors, who take time out of their busy schedules to go to such events in search of new clients.
If you want to go the traditional publishing route, attending a convention is an excellent way to get your foot in the door.
In most cases, authors can sign up to pitch their manuscripts to an agent rather than submitting a query letter.
Considering the fact that an in-person pitch can be much more powerful than a query letter (and less likely to be forgotten among thousands of others), this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss out on.
Even if you’re looking to self-publish, making connections with individuals in the publishing industry is still strongly recommended.
Doing so will allow you to forge professional relationships that may assist in taking your writing career to the next level.
At the very least, you may end up making some new friends, as the people at these events all share one thing in common — love of the written word.
4. You get a break from writing.
Sometimes all it takes is a few days away from your computer (or typewriter, if you’re old school) to get the creative juices flowing again. And what better way to spend that downtime than by attending writing conferences?
Of course, writers are encouraged to shut off their brains completely every so often, and such events aren’t meant to be navigated on autopilot.
However, going to an industry-related convention means your attention isn’t solely on your work. You have the chance to learn, meet new people, purchase resources, and more.
You may even find that the mere change in venue allows you to recharge and return to your work feeling ready to tackle the next few chapters with ease.
Tips for Finding Writing Conferences to Attend
If writing conferences are outside your expertise, you may be at a loss when it comes to selecting which one(s) you want to attend. Fortunately, all it takes is a little bit of research…
If you have a circle of author friends, ask them what events they’d recommend (and which ones they’d suggest you stay away from).
Check out resources such as Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers, and The Writer, as they often publish information about upcoming conferences with details about each event.
Search online for writing conferences in your area (or beyond, if you’re willing to travel a greater distance).
And don’t feel as though you have to attend a general event — there are many genre-specific conventions hosted every year.
Read blogs from other authors (such as Joanna Penn) who regularly attend conferences themselves.
Once you’ve gone to a handful, you can decide which ones are worth visiting annually. And don’t be afraid to mix in one-day talks and short workshops!
Attending such an event for the first time (or second, or third, or fourth) can be nerve-racking for some authors, but it’s well worth it — especially considering everything there is to be gained.
So, start researching writing conferences you’re interested in, block out your schedule, and allocate resources toward your trip.
Once you’ve arrived home, mind filled with new information to take your writing career to the next level, you’ll be glad you did!