WARNING: 5 Reasons to NOT Attend a Writers Conference


Fans dressed as Klingons in a Star Trek Conven...

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Okay, so lots of writers have written blog posts about the virtues of writers conferences. They list all the benefits and glorify them until you’d think you were slapping down hundreds of dollars for eternal life. Well, I hate to rain on anyone’s parade but I’m about to bring in the thunderheads and set ’em loose.

Here are 5 reasons NOT to attend a writers conference.

  1. You may see someone you know. Or, forbid it all, meet someone new, maybe even someone from a foreign state like, say, Florida. You’ll have to talk to them, get to know them, and probably find out you share a lot in common. In fact, you’ll be surrounded by a bunch of weird writer-types who share your same interests. It’ll remind you of one of those bizarre conventions where everyone dresses up like writers and pretends to be fascinated with what you’re currently working on.
  2. Editors and agents are there for the specific reason of talking to you and seeing your work. You may find out that they’re quite normal people, most of them even nice people, and then they’ll be knocked off that pedestel you’ve put them on. All fear will be banished.
  3. People will want to read what you’ve written. You’ll feel exposed, vulnerable. Your writing will be critiqued and then you’ll feel like you need to actually improve it.
  4. You’ll be encouraged to explore and understand why you feel that urge to write so much. They’ll get all emotional on you and throw around words like “calling” and “purpose.” You’ll be challenged to dig deep and search your soul. Ugh!
  5. You will become a better writer and increase your chances of getting published. The worst of all . . . someone may actually take you and your passion for writing seriously. Then you’ll have to spend real time writing and reading and honing your craft.

Are you really game for all that?

I am. I’m a glutton for punishment. In fact, so much of a glutton I’ll be on faculty at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this Thursday through Saturday. I’ll be teaching two workshops there, mingling with writers, talking writing, studying writing, and yes, probably even doing some writing. It’s going to be pure torture, I assure you.

Question: Have you ever attended a writers conference? Which one and was it torture or what?

(For more useful posts, please visit my other blog as well: www.michaelkingbooks.wordpress.com)

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About mikedellosso

Mike Dellosso is an author of wide-eyed suspense. He writes stories that not only entertain but enlighten.

Posted on July 31, 2012, in Writing Life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I attended my two first writer’s conferences this year and yes, the pressure is now on because interest was expressed in my projects. Now I really HAVE to write and improve – I can’t just play around with words. Also if you remember Sally Field and “You like me! You really like me!” was how the majority of my appointments went. I expected rejection. I was told to expect it. (And yes, some has come later via email). Everyone was so stinkin’ nice! It was a strange experience as well as everyone “got” me – I was no longer unique and unusual in my world – no longer special because there are others out there like me. *sigh* And yet, I too am a glutton for punishment and would go again. I also came away with more friends and people holding me accountable to actually, gasp, WRITE!

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  2. I went to a writer’s conference many years ago, held by the Southern Baptist Convention. It was very interesting and really whet my appetite to write. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t pursue it at the time. I am intending to sit down and build on some story starters I have begun.

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  3. The first writers’ conference I attended was a disappointment. It seemed that the workshop leaders were there simply to promote their own books. Even a manuscript critiquer was selling her own services. It did, however, motivate me to write and keep writing.

    I’ve been to two more since then (produced by same organization) that have been far more inspiring, and have continued to motivate me. I didn’t really feel I was able to connect on a personal level – too tight a schedule for the day.

    Hope you have a wonderful time at the Philadelphia conference.

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  4. Lois, I’m sorry you had a less-than-stellar experience with your first conference. My post is, of course, tongue-in-cheek. I encourage any and all writers to try to attend at least one conference, not only to learn the craft but for the opportunity to network and get to know others of like mind.

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  5. I love writers conferences & admit I would go to many more if I had the money. Despite the costs, in fact, I went to three last year. My favorites are Write-to-Publish at Wheaton & the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. One of my goals is to start speaking at conferences so I can go to even more. Any suggestions for getting into that? I’ve been writing & editing professionally for over 20 years. And I love to teach!

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  6. Do I have to dress up like a Klingon???

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  7. I’ve never been to a writer’s conference… I’ve been to some anime cons, but they’re far from the same thing! LOL I’d love to go to a conference but I haven’t been able to as of yet. I’m hoping to do some real planning and saving so I can go to one next year.

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  8. Enjoyed the blog today. I also enjoyed everyone’s comments.

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  9. Love this article. I’ve actually made it my goal to attend one next June (Santa Barbara Writers Conference). That gives me about a year to prepare for this torture. Thanks for the warning.

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  10. I attended a writer’s conference years ago, but I was pretty young and way too inexperienced in the craft. Some of the workshops were interesting, but I had no real writing to discuss when I would talk to someone. Overall, I felt out of place and had spent an awful lot of money. I do recommend these types of conferences but I strongly advise that you consider whether you are at the right place with your writing to take full advantage of what they have to offer.

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    • Warren, you bring up a great point. Conferences are a big expense. They serve two purposes as I see it. One, to learn the craft. Two, to network and show your stuff. The best situation is if you have a teachable spirit and a finished product to showcase. The bottom line: Don’t go if you’re not ready for it.

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