Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Writing Workshops and Conferences

I'm contemplating going to a writer's conference. Of course, the real question is how do you choose just one? I suppose if you write strictly within a well established genre, you would choose the conference for that genre. The Romance Writer's Conference is an ideal choice for a romance writer, isn't it? And I'm certain if you are writing a mystery/thriller, the Mystery Writer's of America has a conference that would fit you quite well, right?

But what if you write across genres? An author that writes a urban fantasy romance perhaps, or maybe a paranormal mystery/romance. Or does it really matter? I suspect it doesn't. All the conferences put on by major groups look like they would have plenty for any new writer, regardless of the genre. They have critiques and agents and editors, but choosing one is still not an easy task.

There are costs involved with all of them. The registration, the hotel, travel to and from, and of course, meals. Then you need to think about what to bring. Business cards with your information for potential agents and editors, copies of your work, or at least the first few pages, a laptop for all the ideas and info you're going to want to get down as quickly as possible, and I'm sure there are more things that any experiences conference goer would add to the list. Plus, if you are getting a critique, that usually has to be submitted prior to the actual conference dates.

Then you need to decide how far are you willing to travel for this conference. Are you willing to fly? Are you taking anyone else with you. and if not, are there arrangements to be made for the family members you are leaving behind? Cats, dogs, kids, spouses all may need some sort of accommodating.

By the time you've figured all this out, do you wonder 'Is this really worth it?'. I've never been to a writer's conference, but I've been to other kinds of conferences, and I must say, they were all well worth the expense. And yes, stay at the host hotel if at all possible. You'll get the chance to mingle with other people who share your interests like you never can at home, and you'll more than likely make new friends, even if you are an introverted writer.

I'm still no closer to choosing a conference, but my resolve to find one for me is better. I know there will be information at those conferences that will help me with this craft and I know some of that information may be available in books or online, but it's so much more memorable and has so much more impact in person that I know it'll be worth it.


BernardL said...

A conference very near where you live would be ideal. You would be able to gauge the value without the expense. I would imagine many of the conferences are scheduled in places where other attractions might make for a nice family holiday; but the expense these days will be formidable.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I go to the RWA NJ Conference every year. It's close to me and it's very well done.
You can go online the RWA and see what states close to you are having their conferences and check out their seminar schedule and who is speaking.

Virginia Lady said...

I agree, Bernard, something close to home is definitely a great way to sample the idea.

Thanks for the advice, Jennifer. I'll do that. I have the advantage of being on the northern end of Virginia, so it opens up several nearby states as options in addition to VA.