I have an updated game plan, thanks to my attendance at the recent SoCal Christian Writers Conference, held at Biola University. It was the inaugural year for this conference, but so many of the faculty and conference staff were old pros and brought with them wonderful insights and inspiration to share with us writers – both published and non-published.
So what goes on at a writers conference?
Not a lot of writing, that’s for sure. But there’s more to being a writer and that’s where attending a conference with other writers is so valuable.
As I reflect back on the three days I attended, I am so glad I went. If you’ve never gone to one before, here are a few opportunities to embrace when you do attend.
Form new friendships
Friendships formed with other writers is the bomb. They speak the same language and they understand what it takes to work as a writer. Depending on the conference you may find writers who write the exact same genre or you may find writers who write something unrelated (such as fiction vs non-fiction) but can share with you ideas such as how to do tasks differently. Almost every attendee is a writer and feels the same way you do about books and words. Take advantage of meeting writers while waiting in line to check-in, or in between classes, or during one of the many meals shared as a group.
Learn something new
Anyone can learn something new about the craft of writing or the business aspect of it. I took an amazing class about writing humor and learned there are specific things writers who write humor do to pull it off. It was fascinating and since I want to add laughter to my books, insightful.
Most conferences offer appointments with the faculty. This is an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a professional to either show them your work, called a pitch, or ask specific questions about their career or experience. I signed up for several and even though I felt intimidated in the beginning of every single one, I walked away with fresh direction and insight of where I want to go with my writing career.
One of my meetings was with a writer with major blogging experience and I learned a few things about the right way to write a blog after she kindly read my sample and provided feedback. I walked away excited to go home and try my hand at writing my blogs better than before. Every single one of them was well worth my time and I’m extremely grateful for their time and encouragement.
Conferences are run with the help of volunteers. I volunteered during this conference. What I got out of it was so much more than what I put in. I worked the registration desk and met every single person when they checked in. I found myself saying hi to everyone as I walked around the campus and it made it easier to connect and exchange business cards. It gave me confidence to ask questions and learn more about them and what they do. Conferences are jammed with things to do the entire time, but offering to serve a little can go a long way too.
These are just a few of the things you can benefit from by attending a conference. If you haven’t considered going, I would highly recommend it. Take a good look at what sessions are being offered and if there are any faculty you would be interested in asking a question or two, even if they aren’t directly related to your genre. Who knows you might just meet your new critique partner there, like I just did.
Denise M. Colby loves learning about history and reading fun, uplifting, encouraging stories that cherish and warm the heart. Combining two of her loves, she is working on her first inspirational historical romance, featuring Olivia Carmichael, a young lady who loses everything, including her faith, travels to California to teach and finds love in many different forms along the way. Passionate about all types of stories – whether they are from songs, theatre, movies or novels, Denise loves sharing these passions with her husband and their three boys. You can follow along with Denise on her writing journey at www.denisemcolby.com