The Writer’s Conference – the Gift You Give Yourself
December is the month we buy stuff to give to other people. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, you probably will buy a bottle of sparkling wine to share with a friend on New Year’s Eve. While you are doing all this gift-giving, consider giving something to the writer in you, something like a writer’s conference.
Yes, it can seem indulgent. When the author’s cut of each book sale is between six and ten percent, paying hundreds of dollars to attend a conference feels inappropriate. But you – and your career – are worth it!
Attending a writer’s conference can be a mountain-top experience that is reinvigorating on many levels. It reminds you of why you write and inspires you to write more. It sparks new ideas and moves you past roadblocks. It lets you hang with people who understand exactly how you feel about writing.
Being with other writers, writers who are better and more successful than you, seems like it would bum you out, but most folks are gracious and kind. When you think about it, there is a lot of room for “competing” authors. A reader can read a book way more quickly than an author can write it and they are hungry for more.
Writing conferences help build your skills as well as boost your attitude. Even if you have a degree or have taken classes before, there is always something new to be learned. Or to be re-learned. You may have heard the same lesson many times before, but suddenly it will take on new meaning because it applies to the specific manuscript you are working on right now.
Of course the other big plus at a writer’s conference is the networking. While some people are much better at this than others, you can reap rewards at whatever level you are currently at and, ideally, push yourself just a little bit to move on to the next level where more rewards await.
I have personally heard stories about chatting up big-name writers, agents and editors at the bar after hours, although that is beyond my current comfort level. But I have put faces to names I’ve only read about, talked to people who were in a position to help me and connected early with up-and-coming folks whose influence became useful later. For shy folks, finding the other shy folk is the first step. Each of you is non-threatening, and once you team up, you can support each other.
So as you are giving to friends, family and charities this season, consider giving yourself a gift as well and resolve to take yourself to a writer’s conference in 2020. You can write yourself a thank-you note later.