C is for Conferences
Growing up, I remember how jazzed my mom was each year after attending A Rally of Writers, a mid-Michigan writing conference. She came home bursting with ideas, carrying more signed books than we had space for on the large bookshelf beside the stairs. So it is only natural that Rally was the first writing conference I attended, six years ago.
Although every conference I've attended since has been unique, each conference going experience shares some things:
1. Networking: Conferences are great places to meet industry professionals, not to mention other writers. I've found critique partners at conferences, and met some amazing and inspiring agents and editors. Most importantly, though, I've made good friends. I think as writers we sometimes forget to surround ourselves with people who write, and my writer friends are the most valuable thing I've taken from conferences.
2. Education: I learned how to write a strong query because of different writer's conferences. I also learned how to improve my work, and I learned when my writing was ready to take it to the next step. If the conference you attend has an extra critique or pitch option, do it! It's invaluable to get the one-on-one time with industry leaders, and if you are receptive, your own craft will improve.
3. Fun: Some conferences have an open mic night. Others may have a tweet-in. Still others may host an auction or an evening social. After a day of high powered sessions and meeting with other writers, it's nice to unwind a bit. Take advantage of everything the conference has to offer: you can sleep when you go home.
4. Information: Conferences always have more sessions than I can humanly attend (unless I could just get my hands on a time turner...) but the plethora of options means there really is something for everyone. Before you register, scope out the conference offerings and get an idea of which sessions are going to be worth your time.
No matter where you live, there's likely a writing conference somewhere nearby. Check out this nationwide directory to get started.
If you write for children or teens, you need to join SCBWI. Their events are wonderful, and they have chapters all over the country. It's likely that they have at least one conference a year within driving distance of your home.
What has been your experience with conferences? What are your best and worst memories?
Remember to check in with the other A-Z challenge participants!