Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Why You Should Go to Writers' Conferences, Even if (Especially if) You're Scared

I attended one of my favorite writers' conferences last week, the Midwest Writers Workshop. It was a blast, as usual—tons of great writing advice, valuable networking with industry professionals, and fun times with writer friends I don't get to see often enough.

I pitched to two agents, had a one-on-one query critique with the Query Shark herself (which was amazing!), and did more socializing than I normally do in a period of several months. On the way home, I was thinking about how comfortable and relaxed I felt the whole time—a complete 180 from the way I felt before attending my first conference back in 2012. I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot, literally shaking as I psyched myself up to go inside the hotel where the conference was being held.

That conference, by the way, was where I met friends and critique partners I still keep in touch with (hi Stacy, Jenn, and Lauren!). I learned that agents and editors weren't scary people—they were just looking for something they loved that they could sell. I also got the expert advice I needed to improve my writing to the point where I finally started getting lots of requests for partials and fulls from agents. If I hadn't been brave enough to sign up for that conference (and actually leave my car), I firmly believe I would have kept spinning my wheels for much, much longer.

We writerly types often (usually?) would rather sit at home with a good book than spend two or three days interacting with a ton of people. But it's so worth it. It's impossible to describe how good it feels to find people who think and feel and write just like you do. And I guarantee that your writing will improve.

If the very idea of a conference still makes you want to throw up, try starting small. Many SCBWI chapters have mini-conferences where they bring in one or two publishing professionals to do a day of workshops. You can also attend an online workshop (like the fabulous WriteOnCon) to get a taste of what an in-person conference might be like.

Or just take the leap and sign up for that big conference you've been eyeing. You definitely won't regret it.
Some happy Midwest Writer's Workshop attendees (I'm second from the right!)

1 comment:

  1. So funny to hear you were nervous for that conference. So was I! I felt like I was going to throw up when I pulled into the parking lot. And then I met all of you lovely ladies and had such a great time and learned so much!