What Are You Waiting For?
One of my favorite things to do in the world is to talk about writing. It doesn’t’ matter what aspect or slant someone wants to explore, I’m down.
For almost two years, Festivals and Conferences have all been online. An alternative for sure, but I’m so over it.
There’s nothing like the invaluable exchange of information and personal energy that you get at a writing festival–magic.
Oh, I can’t wait.
Festival. Conference. Event. What’s the Difference?
Is there any difference? Well, I guess you’d have to speak with whoever is responsible for naming the event.
For me, Festival is a celebration and party, whereas a conference, comes across sounding more studious and serious.
And an event? Well, is just that–a time and place to do something specific–without it referring specifically to a Festival or Conference, the ‘event’ could be a retreat, a reading, a book launch, a write in… it could refer to anything writer related.
I think when we get right down to it, it’s all in the name of the event. Make sure you do your research so there’s no surprises.
In September 2022, my business partner and I will be hosting the Wine Country Writers’ Festival. This is a celebration of all things writing, with a little bit of vino and community thrown in. It’s going to be awesome.
The name of the event doesn’t really matter. You just have to make sure it suits you. Read through the offerings and see if it fits your expectations, your pocket-book, and your needs.
Once You’ve Found One…Go! Here’s Why…
Bathing in the creative energy of so many like-minded individuals is invigorating, exhilarating, and challenging. It can also be exhausting, overwhelming, and frikken intense.
It’s really important to know your limits and when to take a break.
I often overdo it at conferences, because its such a great opportunity to connect with other writers and I’m always afraid I’m going to miss something. Remind yourself why you’re there—it’s not to party or stay in your hotel room—it’s to connect.
Five Reason to Attend
In no particular order…
ONE: To Learn
I don’t care if you’ve been writing for six months, six years, or sixty years—there’s always something new to learn.
There’s always new ideas, technology, and industry changes that impact the writing world and it’s a perfect time to catch up.
In my opinion, writers should always be open to expanding their current knowledge and constantly strive to improve in their craft. You’re never too old to learn and never so good that learning is passe.
TWO: To Share
Whether you’re sharing your thoughts, expertise, or advice, always try to stay in a positive space.
Too many get sucked down the proverbial rabbit hole of negativity or self-doubt and take others with them. Don’t invite imposter syndrome to tag along–he’s a real pain in the ass.
We all bring something different to the table and sharing your own experiences could offer valuable lessons and encouragement to others.
You can share your story of getting started, how you deal with writers’ block, your preference in coffee, your favorite author, your thoughts on adverbs… The list is endless and can wind down long roads of bonding and understanding.
Reminder: Sharing and listening go hand in hand. Don’t get so caught up in sharing that you forget to listen.
Make sure you listen with as much enthusiasm you show when you share. No likes a know-it-all or a constant yakker. Be aware.
Oh, and no likes a bragger either.
When you attend a writers’ event, you’re doing it with the intention of interacting with your peers. It’s not a time to poo-poo everyone else and get up on a pedestal. Remember, writing is not a competitive sport. You are no better or worse than anyone else–just different.
A writing festival offers an environment in which writers can connect and share their experiences, stories, or anecdotes. The energy is often palpable and the sharing is invaluable no matter which way you look at it.
THREE: To Network
Attending a conference is a perfect time to meet industry professionals. There could be editors, agents, and publishers all having dinner with you.
When you choose your event that you’ll attend, do your research on the Guests, Organizers, and Presenters. It’s good to know who they are and what they’re looking for.
Keep in mind that the professionals are a resource of invaluable proportion.
Professionals are at these events to meet you. Don’t doubt that.
They expect to be approached in hallways and elevators (is your one minute elevator pitch all polished?) so go for it.
Networking can help you make a personal connection.
For example. If you attend a conference workshop given by an agent and after class you introduce yourself and chat about something they mentioned, this is a positive step. Don’t be pushy or act like an idiot… just be you.
Perhaps six month later, you may send a query to that same agent and say you met at a writing event. This is a very loose connection, but perhaps one that will assist your query in being dealt with sooner.
The human psyche is so interesting. We all like to be recognized for positive things. When you tell someone you found their advice invaluable, it validates them. This is a good thing and we’re all prone to it–whether you’re a writer living at the south pole or a top literary agent from L.A.
Be you. Be real. And always remember that networking in the writing world is invaluable.
FOUR: Find Your People… Your Writing Community
Writers are notoriously introverted, sometimes to the point of isolation. While they create new worlds, invent intricate characters, and weave diabolical plots–they do so alone.
Magic happens when you meet others who share common interests and writing goals. Imagine finding someone who’s also into dragons, horror, or poetry—it could be kindred spirits at first glance.
Now if you ask me, it’s always cool to know like-minded writers and readers in your genre. You’ll find your peeps in the same workshops that you’re at. They may also be sitting in a corner reading a book you finished the week before. Maybe, they’re beside you at lunch.
The result of finding your tribe is both exciting and validating, but doesn’t necessarily happen over night.
This can take time and may mean following through on contacting those people who gave you their business card, or perhaps concentrating on the one person who you really connected with.
Reminder: take your own business cards to share too–if someone contacts you after the conference, answer back–its an open door.
FIVE: Learn to Ask Questions and Be Seen
This may be one of the toughest things to do for many conference-goers. Just the thought of it can raise blood pressure for some and cripple others with anxiety–but no one is there to judge you, you’re all there to share and connect.
It’s important that you learn to be the whole package.
Just imagine~~you’ve written a best-selling book and your local TV station calls you up for a chat…are you ready?
Have you learned to speak up and not hide in the back of the room?
Conferences are meant to offer a safe place to practice your social skills, talk about your work, and connect with others. This may prove difficult for some but you’ll need to work to overcome the shyness, insecurity, or whatever it is that holds you back.
Sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it. I know you can do it. Deep breath in and blow slowly out… You’ve got this. You’re a writer.
Go take a look at the Writing Festivals and Conferences that are happening in your area (or wherever you’re willing to travel), and start the journey.
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