Writing is a solitary occupation. Whether the writer is an amateur just starting to struggle with the nuances of point of view and active verbs, (like me), or a professional typing away to meet the latest deadline, he or she generally has to do it on their own. You may be conversing with others during research and preparation, going over edits and proof readings, but the actual writing is done alone. You can wind up feeling withdrawn and isolated. That’s why I believe writer’s conferences are so valuable.
I go to a variety of conferences. As a physician, I go to medical conferences to learn about medical advances, to keep abreast of current practices and standards, and to reconnect with colleagues and classmates. I go to church and para-church meetings and conferences to fellowship and worship together, and to receive instruction and insight. The reasons for going to a conference on writing are similar. There’s the chance to learn from gifted teachers, the opportunity to share your writing, perhaps to meet with agents and publishers, and maybe best of all, the prospect of realizing you are not alone, there are other writers out there.
I just got back from the His Imprint’s writer’s conference in Saskatoon. I first learned of this meeting in 2007 and have been attending it regularly since. It’s a smaller conference so one can’t expect to see a representative from a New York literary agency or an editor from a big publisher. But you will see a lot of good people. Some are just starting. Others are consummate professionals who have been writing, publishing and editing for years, sometimes decades. All of them are excited to be there and excited to share in the pursuit of good writing.
Conferences and seminars represent a great opportunity to learn and to grow as a writer. We all attend hoping to glean some wonderful pearl of wisdom that will vault our writing to the next level. Hopefully, we gain some insight into what we’ve been doing wrong and the encouragement to persevere and improve through continued hard work and diligence. Often however, the real benefit is making new friends and acquaintances and reconnecting with old ones.
If you write or if you want to write I urge you to connect with other writers. Get involved in a writing group. Make it to meetings. Go to a conference. Meet someone.
Some great conferences for 2013 include (but are not limited to): His Imprint – each April in Saskatoon; Write! Vancouver – May 25, Vancouver; Write! Canada – June 13-15, Guelph, Ontario; and Inscribe – September 27-28, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.