Conferences

6 Excuses (That Don’t Work) for Not Attending a Writers Conference

me-1Our guest today is Linda Taylor, an author, an editor, a writer, a college writing instructor, and a constant learner. She teaches in the Professional Writing department at Taylor University and continues to do freelance editing and proofreading. She blogs about the joys of editing and grammar at www.lindaktaylor.com

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In our extremely virtual world, we have gotten used to our connections being online—perhaps too used to it.

“Working on my revision!” says a Facebook post from a writing friend. I respond with the requisite “Wow” emoji.

“Got my third rejection letter,” posts another. Requisite “sad” emoji.

All fine and good. But we as writers, given our generally introverted nature, really really need to get out there and connect with other writers. That’s why writers conferences are so valuable.

I hear what you’re saying:

  • “But I’m too [old, young, new at writing, bad at writing, famous, unknown] to bother.”
  • “I will be uncomfortable [with unknown people, unknown food, unknown room, unknown schedule], and I hate to be uncomfortable.”
  • “It’s too much trouble [taking time off work, getting someone to watch the kids, leaving my cats].”
  • “I don’t need any more training [in dialog, characterizing, setting, organizing, grammar, proposing, formatting, platforming, marketing, or anything because I’ve heard it all], I just need to finish writing!”
  • “I don’t have [money, transportation, time, inclination, updated computer, correct clothing] to go to any conferences.”
  • “No one will want to [talk to me, sit by me, listen to me, care about me] and I’ll be miserable.”

To all of this I say, “Hogwash.”

We writers need one another. Publishing is a tough business; writing is not an easy task. When you go to a conference, you’ll discover a whole bunch of other introverted people with that “deer in the headlights” look—at first all wondering why they ventured out of their comfortable study into this mass of people. Give it a few minutes. Go to that first session. If you’re really nervous, look for someone who appears to be even more nervous than you are and go chat with him or her. Do this “listen, talk, share, and care” part that you yourself were so worried about.

I guarantee that you’ll discover kindred spirits. You’ll find people just like you who love to write. They’re all at various phases of their writing careers—the grandmother picking up a pen for the first time to tell her story, the young adult writing about a fantasy world that’s spinning in his head, the published author, the unpublished author, the self-published author. But they all have one thing in common—a passion for words and a message to share.

I just returned from the amazing Write-to-Publish conference in Wheaton, Illinois. If you have the time and the money, it is well worth every second and every penny. But if your time or money is limited, you can search for a writers conference near you (to avoid travel) and/or shorter in duration (to incur less cost). Steve Laube has this list of Christian writers conferences, or check out this list at Newpages (scroll down and click on your state to find local conferences), and there’s another list at the Poets & Writers website that details conferences all over the country (and the world!). You may indeed find something near you, or near a long-lost family member or friend who is due for a visit from you!

As an instructor in the Professional Writing department at Taylor University, I tell my students that they will need to attend conferences once they leave the enclave of writers that has surrounded them for four years during college. They will need to continue to brush up on what they know; they will need to continue to learn about platform building and social media and marketing because the publishing world constantly changes. You never know it all, and even if you do, you probably will need some refresher courses.

And while I have you here, let me put in a plug for a short and inexpensive writers conference we’re holding on Taylor University’s campus in Upland, Indiana, this summer August 5–6, 2016. Taylor’s Professional Writing Conference offers agents and acquisitions editors and marketers and publicists and editors ready to teach and assist you. Two days. $99. (Overnight in the dorm extra, but minimal.) Under $130 for two solid days of training and meeting new writer friends. And if you’re a teenager (or know one) who loves to write—we have some special events for you!

Will you be uncomfortable? Maybe. But not for long. Will the beds be like yours at home? No. Will the food be as good as at home? I actually have no idea because I’ve not eaten at your house.

But don’t give me any of those excuses.

If you’re a writer, you need to set aside a budget (it’s a write-off!) and get yourself to a writers conference. I promise. You’ll be glad and inspired.

And then you really can get back and finish that book!

 

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