I know, what you’re thinking. Me? Why would I go to a writer’s conference? I don’t have a finished manuscript. Or even anything resembling a manuscript. I just have a couple dozen little stories on my computer. Half of which I refuse to even look at because I wrote them a billion years ago and I’m pretty sure they’re complete and utter garbage-stories.
Oh wait. That’s not what you’re thinking. That’s what I was thinking before I signed up for my first ever writer’s conference in November.
But then the next thing I knew, I was signing up for yet another conference — this one two weeks ago. And basically I’m now an expert on these kinds of things. (Other things I consider myself an expert on: koalas because I went to Australia once and pie. BECAUSE PIE.)
So, I thought I’d share some of my super wise expert wisdom and basically peer pressure you into going to a writer’s conference. Preferably one that I am also going to, so I’m not the only person there with just a pile of garbage-stories instead of a manuscript.
5 Reasons to Go to A Writer’s Conference Even If You Hardly Ever Write
1. You will learn some new stuff. Even if that new stuff doesn’t really seem to apply to what you’re doing.
During my two conferences, I attended a whole lot of workshops on things like characters and plot development. I found it fascinating, and took pages of notes about everything my workshop leaders said, and dutifully tweeted out their most pithy of quotes.
But, the thing is, I don’t exactly do those things in my writing, really.
I mean, plot? Characters?
Yeah, not so much.
The non-blog stuff that I’m working on now is pretty much like my blog stuff: it’s a collection of short stories totally and completely about myself, and almost entirely meaningless without any actual storyline and/or trajectory.
But, then I realized that even if the stuff I learned at the conference isn’t helpful for what I’m working on now, it might come in handy in the future. I mean, I’m eventually going to run out of stories about myself. Especially since I hardly ever leave my house, and there are only so many stories I can tell about sitting on my couch watching Netflix. So maybe at some point in the future, I’ll have to switch to writing about fictional characters who actually, you know, do stuff.
2. You will relearn some stuff you knew all along. But sometimes you need to relearn that stuff, because you forgot it while you were watching Netflix.
Probably the most helpful stuff I learned was the stuff I already know.
You need to stop coming up with a billion excuses and start writing already.
And while I know this, like, KNOW IT, I honestly can’t hear it enough. Seriously, I will gladly fork over another $100 to go to my next conference, and hear ten workshop leaders repeat that exact same thing.
3. Putting money into your writing will make you take your writing more seriously. Or at least help you stop taking Netflix so seriously.
I’m one of those people who will only go to the gym if I have an expensive membership because I feel guilty paying tons of money for something I never use.
Case in point: my current gym is free because it’s on the campus where I work. And, well, I haven’t been there in about four months.
Investing money into a conference on writing, made me feel the need to invest more time into my writing. In fact, since my last conference, I stopped watching Netflix and any other TV on weekday nights. And instead I write during that time that I would usually be binge-watching Making a Murderer. And if you know me and my binge-watching tendencies, you know this is nothing short of a miracle.
4. You will realize you’re not as far behind as you thought you were.
At my first writer’s conference, I went to panel discussion on how to market your book. You know, the book that I haven’t even started really writing? When the panel asked who in the room had a finished manuscript, everyone raised their hand but me.
Cue me freaking out and feeling like I was back in my first day in kindergarten when I discovered everyone knew the entire alphabet but me and I was like, “Wait, you guys, but when did you learn this? Was there some special class I missed?”
As I slowly stopped hyperventilating, I realized all the things the panel was telling us to do to market our books — start a blog, get on social media, connect with readers — was stuff I was already doing. Here, all that time I thought I’d just been farting around on Twitter and Facebook, I was actually being productive and “marketing my book.” Nevermind, that book still doesn’t exist.
5. You will meet a whole bunch of writer people. And those writer people will be doing stuff that’s a whole lot crazier and a whole lot harder than what you’re doing. So if they can do it, you can do it, too, right?
As crazy as it might seem to write a book with neither a plot nor any actual characters besides myself, I’ve met people at these conferences who are doing even crazier, harder stuff than me.
At my first conference, I met a woman whohad just finished writing a book on children’s chiropracty. (Mind you, she was not actually a chiropractor. Or someone with any actual chiropracty experience.) Having finished that she was starting on her next book: this one was on mini-golf.
At my last conference, one of the workshop leaders announced she worked full-time, had a family and was a published author, currently working on three different books.
At which point I realized maybe I needed to stop coming up with a billion excuses and start writing already.
See, you guys? I told you I can never hear that enough. I might even have to tattoo it on my face, just so I can remember it between conferences.
Have you gone to a writer’s conference? Did you find it helpful? What did you learn?