I attended the League of Utah Writers’ annual “The Quills Conference” this weekend. I’m no stranger to conferences or conventions, as I’ve attended them multiple times a year since JordanCon 2015.
The perks of these conferences are plenty-fold. When I started to get serious about writing, I’d attend every panel to learn about the craft. These panels generally include discussions involving pop culture analysis, writing tropes, querying agents, working with editors, story structure, etc.
As the years passed, I realized I could only learn about point-of-view and tense so many times before I needed to start writing, to learn by doing. Therefore, my recent conference experiences have been focused on volunteering and networking rather than attending for instructional purposes.* Although, every time I return, I get reinvigorated by my proximity to other aspiring authors and passionate instructors.
I want to open the discussion to other fiction writers (and avid readers). What do you get most out of attending conferences? Are there any lessons you’d like to share for new writers dipping their toes into these events? Have you had any negative experiences? Have you been a guest speaker on panels?
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! ~ WM
*As a writer, I am a lifelong learner and actively pursue new ways of thinking. An additional perk of volunteering is that you can usually attend the classes for free (given you have free time).
I've only been to two conferences. They were more geared toward helping writers navigate the publishing world, including pitching their books to agents. I didn't have the best luck pitching my book in person (apparently agents don't like it when you correct them ;-) but I did get my agent via a conference. He was a panelist and contacted me afterward based on the description of my book with my bio in the conference program. My book wasn't really ready for prime time yet, and I was at the conference more out of curiosity than anything, so even though it didn't end up getting published, it was a big boost of confidence. Overall, I'd say it was a worthwhile experience if for nothing else than forcing me to stand face-to-face with people in the industry and justify my book--either have the conviction and confidence to stand by it or fail to. I think that was a make or break moment for me as a fiction writer.
Haven't attended any conferences, but I did do ProWriting Aid's Fantasy Writers Week, which is sort of an online conference, where I got the inspiration to make a substack. I like being able to talk about writing with people.
At this point I'm tired of writing advice more than anything else. No more books or talks on writing, I just want to write.