Why go to a Writers Conference?

by | Sep 16, 2015 | reflections, writing

Sorry it’s been so long since I blogged…life has really gotten ahold of me. Between children being sick and me being sick and getting geared up for the conference, these last couple of weeks have flown by and I’ve barely had time to breathe! But today is the day…I’m catching a flight out of this town and headed to Dallas for the biggest writers conference I have been to yet – the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference. I am excited, I am nervous, I am soooo overwhelmed!

focusThe Right Focus. I’ve learned one thing from my conference experience (which, admittedly, has been very limited) – you have to go in with the right focus. You have to have goals…goals that fit in with your career goals as a writer and goals that fit in with who you are as a person.

Pitching? The opportunity to pitch to agents/editors is amazing and I am so grateful for it, but that is not truly the right focus for going to a conference. If that were the case, I would spend all my time in my room, perfecting my pitch.

Learning? I am excited to learn more about my craft through classes, seminars, workshops, and panels. But that, too, is not the primary focus. I intend to be every bit the sponge I can be, but if this were my sole reason for going, I would, again, be in my room, capturing all I learned through notes after each class, workshop, etc.

Then what is it? I have learned that the right intent going into a conference, is to plan to network. To just be in the presence of others who share a common interest with you is refreshing and inspiring. But the people at the conference that I will meet and form friendships with can become valuable in my journey as a writer/author. Other writers/authors are valuable for sharpening my own skills, for support, for connections I can’t make on my own. We make up a community. And it’s time I got on board.

meeting peopleNetworking. I will be honest and admit that that networking is not my strong suit. I always score equal extrovert/introvert on every personality test I take, so I’m in a rather strange place there. I get my energy from being with people, but I tend to be a little on the shy side at first. (Go figure!) But for such as this, it’s imperative that I be willing to stretch myself out of my comfort zone. This will determine how much I get out of the conference. And what I walk away with.

What you’re NOT hearing me say is that pitching or learning is NOT important – they are. And they are very compelling reasons to go to a writers conference and parts that I say “give it your all”. But they should not be, in my opinion, your one goal in going to the conference. They are part of your overarching goal list, but should not be at the top of that list.

So, for those of you that are going to be there, I look forward to seeing you! For those of you who are thinking about a conference, go at it! Enjoy! But most of all, get to know other people in your field…you never know…

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Sara R. Turnquist