Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Putting on Pants: The Benefits of Writers Conferences

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By Ronda Simmons

If you attended the NCW conference last weekend, you already know it was THE BEST CONFERENCE EVER! Okay, I may feel that way every year, but it doesn't negate the fact there were amazing sessions, fantastic speakers, and incredible agents and editors. 

I doubt the Fort Collins Marriott has ever been so full of word nerds, well, since last year. Our
This Year's Conference Was a Stunner.
beloved director, April Moore and her crew did an amazing and MAGICAL job pulling this conference together. 

Workshops are great and all, and we can find some of the same information on YouTube without having to put on pants. But there is a group synergy that happens when you are in a room full of people just as excited about writing topics as you are. 

Whether we were talking The Loaded Exchange: Writing Tension Packed Dialogue or Plotting with Your Pants Down: Effectively Outlining Your Novel, seeing another writer nod in understanding as a light bulb tripped on in their head invigorated me. 

Writing Is A Strange and Solitary Activity -- Patrick Modiano

Heretofore, some of us felt alone and wandering in the wilderness of words. And yes, writers need their space, literally and figuratively, to get work done. The prospect of being around a hundred other people for two entire days can be daunting to us introverts. 

Even JC Lynne's Hubby, Tasked to Help Out,
Celebrated Putting on Pants.
The temptation to stay in our caves rather than stepping into the fresh air and inspiration of a writers conference can be mighty powerful. Succumbing to that impulse would be a mistake. 

The World Needs Our Stories -- Chuck Wendig

Yes, the world needs our stories, our messages, and our inspiration. To make that alchemy happen, we need other writers. Facebook, Twitter, and blogs are all well and good, but once in a while we need each other's physical energy.

Kristin Owens hit it on the head when she said, "Who knew Facebook profiles are actual people? I'm so glad to connect in person with fabulous writers."

This was Melissa Feddak's first writing conference ever. "The workshops were the perfect length, not too long. The breaks were wonderful for stretching the legs and chatting with new people. Apparently, introverts love to talk if you ask them what they are writing."

For many attendees, it was the first time they pitched to an actual, real-live and in person agent. Every single person I talked to agreed it really wasn't as scary as they imagined. 

Jamie Raintree and Angie Hodapp.
As Warm And Friendly As Their Smiles.
The agents were warm, funny, and as interested in writing as we are. Talking with them wasn't confined to the pitch sessions either. 

They attended sessions, shared stories over cocktails, and graciously made themselves available between presentations.

Lee Larson connected with an agent at lunch on Saturday. "She showed genuine interest and invited me to query her once my project was completed. I wasn't even planning on pitching this year, but I did and it worked out." 

Agents Love Writers. They Really Do.

Chuck Wendig said, "Meeting so many great writers at every experience level is energizing and weird and wonderful and provides the perfect springboard for me going back to work and getting shit done. Oh, also taking COOL selfies with Ronda."
I Met The Chuck Wendig!

If you were part of this weird and wonderful wizardry, you know exactly what he means. The part about being energized and getting shit done. Not the selfies. 

If you missed the conference this year, you've got to get next year on your schedule. Magic happens.

Skip a coffee and put the cash in a jelly jar. Scoop that extra loose change in as well. Clip coupons, have a garage sale or hit the consignment store. 

You have an entire year to save, unless you're going to the writing retreat in October. On second thought, get two jars.


Kristin Owens said...

Great stuff Ronda. I'm still experiencing post con hangover. Counting the days for 2018!

Ronda Simmons said...

I agree! These conferences are absolutely critical for me! It was great catching up with you this year.

shenke said...

Wonderful follow up- makes me want to squeeze my way back through that wormhole of time to travel back to all the fun! My jars are already jingling!

Patricia Stoltey said...

For me, the best part of a conference is making new friends and reconnecting with those I haven't seen in a year. This event was no exception.

My favorite sessions were Angie's on design of promo materials and Jamie Raintree's workshop on the Wordpress website. That's where I'm at these days, just trying to figure out all that marketing stuff...again. It keeps changing, so every little bit of new information helps.

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