Why Some Writers Avoid Conferences and Why They Shouldn't

Me and friends at a
writing conference a few years ago.
Oh wow! I went to the first ever Saga Conference  in Charlotte, North Carolina this past weekend, and I have so much to share. It will take several blog posts to cover it all. Also, last week, I participated in PitMad on Twitter and have a lot of tips to share from that experience, too.

But for now, let me address some of the excuses people give for not attending a writing conference.

The Excuses

I'm not ready

This excuse appears in several forms:

  • I haven't finished my book
  • I'm just starting to write
  • I don't have anything ready to pitch
  • I don't know how to pitch
  • Etc., etc., etc. (to quote the King in The King and I)

Balderdash! Yes. I find a way to toss that word in every year or so. It fits here. Writers' conferences offer opportunities to meet and schmooze agents and editors (a nice benefit), but they offer so much more. They help writers learn how to write better. I've been writing seriously for twenty years, and I still picked up great advice this weekend.

As if that wasn't enough, they introduce you to a network of others who share your interest. This weekend, I met three people who live near me and didn't know about my local writing group. I ran into another writer I haven't seen in twelve years, and she introduced me to several more writers.

Conferences bring in authors. It never hurts to form relationships with those who have gone before you. They don't bite and are usually willing to help you with your writing. Why? Easy. They once dreamed of getting published. Extra bonus: They know people you might want to meet...just saying.

I can't afford it

I'm tempted to refer you back to the paragraphs from the excuse above. I can't put a price tag on the ability to learn about writing from THE PEOPLE WHO ARE GETTING PAID TO DO IT! They might have something worthwhile to tell you. Also, you meet people. Who? See the paragraphs above. This is priceless.

If your budget can't handle a conference, ask if they have volunteer opportunities. Most conferences need extra people to pull it off which means they will offer discounted or free attendance for some people. Yes, you'll have to work during the conference, but usually, you work part of the time. Not all of it. This puts you in direct contact with the writing professionals at the conference. They learn your name and appreciate you. If you can't figure out the value of that, well...I don't know what to say.

I'm an introvert and don't like crowds

I'm not an introvert, in case you wondered, but I teach workshops on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I'm aware of the drain an introvert experiences when surrounded by lots of people. Introverts still need a tribe. They need like-minded people who will share their interests. A lot of writers are introverts, so they share some of the same concerns you have about being around others for long periods of time.

A quick side note to dispel a prevalent myth about writers. NOT ALL writers are introverts. Extroverts can and do write (which hints at an entire blog post I need to write soon).

Let's review:

  • You don't need a finished work or even a beginning work to benefit from a writers' conference. 
  • The valuable experience, knowledge, and networking far outweigh the costs. 
  • You will meet like-minded people who share your passion for writing.

Now all you need to do is find one and go!

FYI, I'm teaching an editing workshop at this conference in South Carolina next month but find one that fits your needs and check it out. I doubt you'll be sorry you did.


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