Why go to a writers’ conference?

The Writers’ League of Texas annual conference was an eye-opening experience. I learned so much and got so much out of it, it re-energized my writing (and my blogging, as you can see). I can’t recommend the experience enough. Here are some reasons for going to a general writers’ conference.

  • Get out of your comfort zone.

Maybe you’ve been used to going to genre conventions. You think a writers conference may be too big, or you feel like you won’t have anything in common with other attendees, since they may write in other genres (or, in the case of romance and SF authors, possibly hold your genre in contempt). Go, I say! It’s a shared journey. You’ll find kindred spirits. And you might even find a kindred spirit who’s writing memoir and you’re writing military SF — and she’s served in the military and would be happy to critique your WiP to get the particular details right about military life.

Leading to:

  • Networking.

I’m an introvert. Oh, I talk a good game, but there’s a reason I’m a writer. Conversation with strangers is scary. By taking a deep breath and chatting up strangers, asking about their stories, I can broaden my network of fellow writers, perhaps even enlisting new critique partners.

  • An entire conference dedicated to craft, publishing information, marketing, and more.

So you go to genre conventions, and you attend all the publishing track panels you can. That’s still just one track. A general writers’ conference is an embarrassment of riches. There’s so much to learn, you can’t go to it all. That’s when you and your new buddy, the one you met at the breakfast welcome luncheon, divvy up the panels and compare notes later. It’s just more bang for your buck. Are they more expensive than a con? Yes, and they are worth every penny.

And finally:

  • Professionalism.

Right now the science fiction convention scene is wracked by scandal. The revelations of sexual harrassment by pros and big-name fans has given the con circuit a black eye. Well deserved, I might add. Of the two general writers’ conferences I’ve been to this year, there hasn’t even been a whiff of scandal. here was never any sense that the attendees and pros — the agents and editors who were invited as panelists — were anything but professional and hard-working, approachable (but please, no pitching scripts in the restrooms!), and nice.

What have been your experiences at writers’ conventions?

Go to Part I and Part II for more Lessons from the Writers’ League.

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