About two years ago, my on-line writer friends and I decided to move from critiquing each others works online and create an internet show about author topics.
Shortly thereafter, we decided to attend a writing conference together in Florida
Because it was in Florida. Where the hell else would we go?
We ultimately ALL THREE became presenters at that very same conference a year later – but the value of attending that first one wasn’t lost on me or my friends.
They both wrote about it:
And they both said something that struck me.
I was expecting them to say the FWA conference was more geared towards newer writers. It is. That’s why, as experienced writers, we applied to and became presenters the following year. (Not just because anybody can, but because we had learned things over our writing years to share to newer writers.) I will be presenting again this year.
The big take away that I didn’t expect and that I totally benefited from was…
…well, I’ll let them tell you.
Writers need to interact with their tribe.
We writers tend to be solitary creatures, and most of us are happy to stay that way. But in the interest of developing our craft and moving forward in our chosen careers, we have to get out there and talk to other writers. Network. Find out what works for them. Doing so can bring focus to your own goals – so know what those are going in! It can be figuring out what publication path to take, how to find an editor, how to develop a story, or how to increase sales, among a myriad of other possibilities.
The bottom line is this: even if all of the workshops were boring or beneath you or spoken in a foreign language, there is value in connecting with others. We don’t work in a central place like other professions. This is a chance to do that. Connect and learn from each other.
– Allison Maruska (emphasis mine)
By the time the end of the weekend rolled around, I found that I benefited greatly from the very act of immersing myself in author culture. As writers, we are responsible for plugging our own work. At first, we’re the only person who CAN. It’s hard in the beginning. But, when you surround yourself with like-minded authory individuals . . . it gets easier. Because of the conference, I was able to identify a weakness–talking about Old Souls–and overcome it. I learned the importance of talking about my book with finesse…
Looking back, I don’t think attending a writers conference is crucial to authorly growth. But, talking to other writers is 100%, absolutely essential. It’s important to surround yourself with people who have attained the kind of career you want. So, find a place where you can submerge yourself in a pool of writerly kinship.
– J. A. Allen (again, emphasis mine)
There’s a HUGE benefit from immersing yourself in the writing culture with other people who are also trying to achieve writing goals.
I can’t emphasize it enough.
This past week or two, after presenting at a FWA “Focus Day,” I’ve gotten several requests for additional information from people I met there. About six now, I think.
I’m happy to help.
And one of the biggest things I can tell you is: you need to attend one of these.
Here’s the one in October, which I’ll be presenting at again this year, but if you can’t come to Florida (and really, if you can’t, you need to rethink your priorities) then find one in New Orleans or California Wine Country. Get to one that’s a Focus Day or even an online webinar.
Jenny, Allison – let’s find another one to go to! Anne Marie, what’s happening in ‘Nawlins soon?
They all help, so find one and go to it.
Write a post about what you learned and we’ll run it here.
And seriously: writing doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. Use the tools that are available to you and learn all the things faster.