I've been seeing a lot recently about the benefits of writing workshops and attending conferences. I Googled a few, and they seem to be reasonably priced, considering all of the activity that is stuffed into them. I write fiction and nonfiction, and exploring possibilities as a new publisher in the coming months. I feel like I'm on the right track, but I could always use more help with exposure, and they say these are excellent events for networking.
And ideally, maybe attending a few of these will inspire, motivate, and guide me into properly putting together my own conference/workshop one day. I love the thought of holding an annual conference at my alma mater for aspiring writers. Maybe it could be an event that moves between campuses.
I haven't participated in any workshop type of environment since college, and I've never attended a conference. Attending one (or more) of these things kinda scares me, since I've been out of the loop for so long. I'm thinking about trying to register for the Backspace Writer's Conference, being held in May 2012 in New York City. It seemed the least intimidating to me, plus, it gives me a reason to visit New York in the Spring.
Does anyone here have any experience with writing conferences and workshops? Please share. Which ones, if any, would you recommend or not recommend, and why or why not?
Regina: I've been to several conferences/workshops within the last 15 or so years. The most famous is the Writer's Workshop in Iowa City, IA. I spent a week in Beginning Novel. There are lots of activites other than just the class you are taking to participate in. I've also attended a weekend conference there but found that it was not as enjoyable. Too short of a time though I met some really nice people and learned about characters. The feedback is great, however, genres are mixed so if you're looking for just sci-fi, you probably wouldn't enjoy Iowa City unless you found a class that was just for that. I've also attended regional and local conferences that were just as excellent. A lot of workshops offer paid critiques with published authors, pitches to agents, editors and all sorts of other networking opportunities. I would really like to attend the ACFW writer's conference in Dallas next year but considering the other activities going on in my life for 2012, not sure if I'll get there. I'm sure someone else will have advice about some other national conferences. It's a great time to network and just soak up everything about writing.
Thank you for the feedback. I'm going to Google the Iowa City and the ACFW conferences, and see if I can fit either/both of them into my schedule and budget. I'm always looking to learn and grow as a writer. I want to soak in as much as possible. I don't have much really planned for 2012, so my life seems open to do some writer-ly things for a change, networking included. Maybe I'll see you at one of them, if your other life stuff permits. Of course, I'll keep you all posted on how it goes and what I end up doing. All of you ladies on this site have me so pumped up, I just want to go, go, go, and do, do, do! Thanks, again.
I attended my first writer's conference this past October. It was an online writer's conference called The Muse Online Writer's Conference. They offered over 100 seminars, many were offered by publishers as one-day classes, online chat sessions with publishers and authors, and pitch sessions. The conference itself lasts one week, and is FREE.
The conference was an amazing experience for me and fit perfectly into my schedule. As a full-time working mom of two little girls, I can't afford to be gone from work for long. This conference offered me the flexibility I needed for my schedule and a price that can't be beat. I would highly recommend this conference to anyone who's published or not.
I'll go look up The Muse Online Writer's Conference. How convenient! And free? Even better! Maybe they have them quarterly. If not, maybe I can get signed up for the one next year. Thank you!
You might look at your local or nearby book festivals to see if they have any writing workshops, as often those are free. I'm going to AWP this year, and before it went bust in 2005, I spent two summers at the National Book Foundation's writing camp. I've also done lots of reasonably priced workshops at the Arizona Poetry Center. You might check for non-profit writing or arts centers and/or community colleges near where you live, too.
Thanks, Sarah! I'll check into local festivals, too. I'm pretty new to this area, and I didn't even think to look locally. It's such a small town-ish community. I'll have to Google AWP, too. I don't know what that is. Do you feel like your writing and/or networking has benefited from attending these? If so, how?
AWP.org. It's the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, so it deals with MFA programs, networking, conferences, etc. Camp was really formative for me because it attracted teens, college students, and adults at all stages of life and career (well, all were not really career writers at that point, but some were people who had been working at writing their entire lives and others had just started) and it got me used to workshops, helped me grow a thick skin, and allowed me exposure to a variety of different viewpoints (I was 14 and 16 when I went). Now that I'm older, with a degree in writing and a more serious approach, I think AWP will be good for me. And certainly local workshops have given me new points of inspiration and introductions to different movements and styles of writing (I took a surrealism workshop and a songwriting workshop, which were outside my experience and really fun).
Thank you, Sarah! That sounds great. I've got a few good starting points, thanks to you ladies. Probably going to start with something local, but we'll see. :)
I would suggest "getting your feet wet" first with a conference that's not too far from home. Travel expenses and hotel accommodations can add up. I, like you, didn't know exactly what to expect when I went to my first conference which involved spending two nights in a different city. I won't say it wasn't worth it but, well, in a way it wasn't.
The second conference I attended was close to home and, after experiencing the first one, I had a better idea of how things worked so I was able to get a lot more out of it.
Another word of caution: be careful whose advice you take. Once, I was told to bring a copy of my novel to a conference so that, if an editor or agent was interested, they could take it home with them. I lugged the book around all day - for nothing. If an agent or editor is interested, they'll ask you to email or mail it to them!
Thank you. I'll probably take your advice and try the local-ish places first, if I can find some, or any.
And thank you for your honesty. I was wondering if any of the authors brought along copies of their books, and if so, how their chances were of getting it into the hands of an agent or editor.
Again, I appreciate the feedback. It's super helpful to me for sorting out my thoughts on how to take this next step.
I'm glad I could help. Actually, I've been thinking a lot lately about all the advice we struggling novelists get. Sometimes, it feels like "Ask three people and you'll get three different answers." It can be difficult to separate the weeds from the flowers!
Best of luck and Happy Thanksgiving!
Yes, you've all been a great help. And my goodness! Isn't that the truth. Working in this business requires a lot of weeding through the advice and figuring out what to keep and what to toss out. Here's to developing our "green thumbs" in the writing biz! :)
Happy Thanksgiving, and all the best to you, too!