Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top Ten Ways Writer's Conferences Inspire

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It can pick you up when you have fallen. Jump-start your engine when it’s been stalled with plot problems. Shock you to life when you’ve been paralyzed from a rejection that dashed your hopes.

Writers and readers alike seek inspiration to get over life’s speed bumps, so it’s hardly surprising that there are 120 thousand inspirational books listed on Amazon.

For writers, there’s Dare to Dream, Cup of Comfort, Bird by Bird, The Writer’s Life, Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, Dare to Dance, and hundreds more.

For me, nothing fluffs my creative feathers better than a writer’s conference. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ annual conference starts in four days. As a matter of fact, Pamela Nowak, one of our Author Expressions contributors, is the conference chair and she has terrific speakers and workshops planned. I’ll be presenting a workshop on writing strong scenes and my workshop and the conference couldn’t come at a better time. I broke my collar bone and dislocated my shoulder on August 4th and am still mired in the pain and challenges of recovery. I need a jump-start, tune-up, new transmission, overhaul, and fresh paint all around.

Here are Top Ten Reasons why writer’s conferences inspire:

10. Break free from the house. Writing is a solitary profession.
9. Learn that you’re not alone. It’s encouraging to learn that other writers have problems similar to yours, that you’re not the only one who has problems plotting or developing characters, for example.
8. Find new writer friends. Friends who write in the same genre as you do, friends who are also interested in critique, friends who have experiences and stories to share.
7. Find exciting new books to read, both fiction and nonfiction craft books.
6. Discover new technologies and processes. New software and products are being introduced at warp speed. Which best serve needs of the writer? Just ask at a conference, and you’ll receive instant feedback.
5. Hear success stories from writers like you. I’ve heard about writers who received ghastly rejection letters that made mine look tame. I’ve heard of writers who struggled so much that they had to live in their car, then went on to success. Learning of hardships overcome is wonderfully inspiring.
4. Sharpen your craft. Conferences offer instruction and workshops that address the challenges of plotting, writing and marketing your fiction novel.
3. Meet editors and agents. It’s exciting to meet the gatekeepers, to talk with the people who buy the books. They share market insights and explain their daily needs and challenges.
2. Connect and laugh with your writer friends. Life is richer with friends. They support us when we’re down, celebrate with us when we’re up, and they remind us that life is good.
1. Network/share information. Knowledge is power. Conferences offer intellectual stimulation and insight into the publishing industry.

Do you enjoy conferences? Please share your best memory of a writer’s conference, and how it inspired you.


Joyce Elson Moore said...

Janet: Great post. I love conferences, too. They have led to agent offers and submission requests, so I'm an advocate. Aside from meeting eds and agents, I've made longime friends. The workshops, though, are invaluable, bringing industry news and marketing tips. Good luck with your workshop

Janet Lane said...

Thank you, Joyce. And didn't those initial contacts and requests for partials just send you to the moon? At my first conference, two writers sat next to me and one was breathless with excitement. "She loves my stuff," the writer said, "And she asked for the whole manuscript!" Wow...I almost got faint with the jolt of inspiration that brought, and it didn't even involve me! :-)

Patricia Stoltey said...

My favorite moment was making the connection that led to publication of my books. It wasn't the agent pitch session, though. It was the Colorado Gold Friday afternoon critique workshop.


Ron at CM said...

I Energize! The energy comes at you from all sides, driven by a hundred different reasons. Smiling faces, intent discussions, and OK, a margarita or two.

Take a second to take in the murmur in the lobbies, the rustle of dishes and glasses in the dining rooms, and the voices and laughter from workshops.

Take another second to feel the tension of the upcoming pitches, the sighs of relief when they're over, and the 'whew' from those whose pitches produced positive results.

Take a final moment to appreciate the farewells, the chatter mixed with solemnity and the "I'll see you again next year" vows.

Then take all that energy home and get to work!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

It's very important for writers to meet with and network with other writers. Janet, you're so right when you say this is a very lonely profession. I find that family and friends really don't want to hear about my work. It simply doesn't interest them. Now if I wrote a bestseller, that might change!

Regards to Pam and hope you feel better soon.

Dee Brown said...

My favorite conference and my worst conference have to do with the same person. I went to a conference in Richmond and decided to skip a couple of workshops. A successful local author showed up in the lunchroom, sat down with a few of us and talked for a couple of hours about being an author. A couple of years later, I attended a conference in Newport News at which this same author was the keynote speaker. He didn't prepare a speech and instead talked for almost an hour about having traveler's diarrhea in Turkey--while we were trying to eat breakfast. I lost all respect for that author that morning.

Janet Lane said...

Ron, you pegged it! Those are great conference memories. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Janet Lane said...

Jacqueline, love your sense of humor, a very useful attribute in publishing, and thanks for the get-well wishes.

Todora, what a story! Makes me want to laugh, and it makes me want to cover my mouth while I do it. Good grief. Wasn't he getting negative visual feedback from the audience? You'd think... LOL Thanks for sharing, and wishing you many *positive* experiences at your next conference.

Anonymous said...

For me, part of the fun of being a writer is attending conferences. Good luck on your presentation. I know how you feel, coping with the pain of healing, and I think you're right: attending a conference, and being one of the presenters, will be almost as good as a mother's kiss on the boo-boo and a homemade cookie. :) My sincere wishes for your speedy recovery.

N. R. Williams said...

I hope you're feeling better come Friday too, Janet. I will be at conference and for the first time my health will allow me to serve. The best thing about a conference is getting together with everyone and being inspired. That may come from a professional agent or editor, or it may come from another author.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Terry Odell said...

Your reasons are all so true. Being able to mingle with other who "get it" is exciting and calming at the same time. I sold my first Five Star book based on a chance encounter with the editor while waiting for the elevator--and I had no clue who he was, which mean I was just talking about my writing, which was perfectly normal at a conference. Had I known he was an acquisitions editor, I wouldn't have had the nerve to pitch cold like that.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Great post! I love writers conferences...speaking of which, if you're anywhere near SW LA or SE TX, check out Bayou Writers Group's conference - details here:

Janet Lane said...

Wow, Terry - a real "elevator" story! I love it!

Thanks for dropping by, Pamela. I checked the Bayou Writers Group's conference website URL. Looks like you have a terrific panel of presenters and workshops.

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