6 Excuses (That Don’t Work) for Not Attending a Writers Conference

me-1Our guest today is Linda Taylor, an author, an editor, a writer, a college writing instructor, and a constant learner. She teaches in the Professional Writing department at Taylor University and continues to do freelance editing and proofreading. She blogs about the joys of editing and grammar at www.lindaktaylor.com

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In our extremely virtual world, we have gotten used to our connections being online—perhaps too used to it.

“Working on my revision!” says a Facebook post from a writing friend. I respond with the requisite “Wow” emoji.

“Got my third rejection letter,” posts another. Requisite “sad” emoji.

All fine and good. But we as writers, given our generally introverted nature, really really need to get out there and connect with other writers. That’s why writers conferences are so valuable.

I hear what you’re saying:

  • “But I’m too [old, young, new at writing, bad at writing, famous, unknown] to bother.”
  • “I will be uncomfortable [with unknown people, unknown food, unknown room, unknown schedule], and I hate to be uncomfortable.”
  • “It’s too much trouble [taking time off work, getting someone to watch the kids, leaving my cats].”
  • “I don’t need any more training [in dialog, characterizing, setting, organizing, grammar, proposing, formatting, platforming, marketing, or anything because I’ve heard it all], I just need to finish writing!”
  • “I don’t have [money, transportation, time, inclination, updated computer, correct clothing] to go to any conferences.”
  • “No one will want to [talk to me, sit by me, listen to me, care about me] and I’ll be miserable.”

To all of this I say, “Hogwash.”

We writers need one another. Publishing is a tough business; writing is not an easy task. When you go to a conference, you’ll discover a whole bunch of other introverted people with that “deer in the headlights” look—at first all wondering why they ventured out of their comfortable study into this mass of people. Give it a few minutes. Go to that first session. If you’re really nervous, look for someone who appears to be even more nervous than you are and go chat with him or her. Do this “listen, talk, share, and care” part that you yourself were so worried about.

I guarantee that you’ll discover kindred spirits. You’ll find people just like you who love to write. They’re all at various phases of their writing careers—the grandmother picking up a pen for the first time to tell her story, the young adult writing about a fantasy world that’s spinning in his head, the published author, the unpublished author, the self-published author. But they all have one thing in common—a passion for words and a message to share.

I just returned from the amazing Write-to-Publish conference in Wheaton, Illinois. If you have the time and the money, it is well worth every second and every penny. But if your time or money is limited, you can search for a writers conference near you (to avoid travel) and/or shorter in duration (to incur less cost). Steve Laube has this list of Christian writers conferences, or check out this list at Newpages (scroll down and click on your state to find local conferences), and there’s another list at the Poets & Writers website that details conferences all over the country (and the world!). You may indeed find something near you, or near a long-lost family member or friend who is due for a visit from you!

As an instructor in the Professional Writing department at Taylor University, I tell my students that they will need to attend conferences once they leave the enclave of writers that has surrounded them for four years during college. They will need to continue to brush up on what they know; they will need to continue to learn about platform building and social media and marketing because the publishing world constantly changes. You never know it all, and even if you do, you probably will need some refresher courses.

And while I have you here, let me put in a plug for a short and inexpensive writers conference we’re holding on Taylor University’s campus in Upland, Indiana, this summer August 5–6, 2016. Taylor’s Professional Writing Conference offers agents and acquisitions editors and marketers and publicists and editors ready to teach and assist you. Two days. $99. (Overnight in the dorm extra, but minimal.) Under $130 for two solid days of training and meeting new writer friends. And if you’re a teenager (or know one) who loves to write—we have some special events for you!

Will you be uncomfortable? Maybe. But not for long. Will the beds be like yours at home? No. Will the food be as good as at home? I actually have no idea because I’ve not eaten at your house.

But don’t give me any of those excuses.

If you’re a writer, you need to set aside a budget (it’s a write-off!) and get yourself to a writers conference. I promise. You’ll be glad and inspired.

And then you really can get back and finish that book!

 

27 Responses to 6 Excuses (That Don’t Work) for Not Attending a Writers Conference

  1. Chaka Heinze July 18, 2016 at 4:34 am #

    Attending the Colorado Writers Conference this year was one of the best decisions I ever made as a writer. I didn’t realize how much I didn’t even know I needed to learn! I also met my agent there. Looking forward to attending future conferences.
    A tax write off too…enough said.

  2. Judith Robl July 18, 2016 at 6:01 am #

    Because of family obligations and budget requirements, I don’t get to a conference every year, but if two years lapse before I can get there, I feel starved for the companionship – someone else on the same journey, just maybe a different leg.

    2014 and 2015 was banner for me because I did three conferences between August 2014 and September 2015. Christian Communicators in 2014 and ACFW both years.

    I hadn’t planned ACFW in 2015 until I realized that my South African online friend, Marion Morrison Ueckermann, would be in Dallas that year. Just had to see her in person.

    Conferences may give you the opportunity to connect in real time, face to face with someone you know only from the internet. It’s not an indulgence. It’s as necessary as fresh air.

    Thank you, Linda, for sharing this wisdom. And thank you, Steve, for giving her this platform.

  3. Loretta Eidson July 18, 2016 at 6:30 am #

    My first writer’s conference was a huge step out of my comfort zone. Too bad Funniest Home Videos wasn’t there to capture my nervous behavior. Three times I grabbed the doorknob of my hotel room to step into the crowd and three times I let go, stepped backward, and sat on the side of the bed trying to muster up enough courage to face the unknown. It was bad enough I’d traveled alone for the first time in my life. What had I gotten myself into?

    Haha, I laugh now because it was the conference that changed my life. Mingling with other writers/authors at all levels showed me that I could learn, and my dreams can come true.

    Conferences are the lifeline for writers. Thank you, Linda, for your timely post. I hope to see everyone at the upcoming ACFW Conference.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 11:46 am #

      Oh my, I’m sure many people can relate to that terrified feeling, especially when you go to a conference by yourself. I’m so glad it turned into a life-changing experience!

  4. Christine Henderson July 18, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    I’ve attended numerous 1 day workshops with a single speaker and participated in several online writing clinics. Last year I tried to attend a conference, but it was sold out.

    Next month, I’ll be attending the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I’ve enrolled in one of the intensive writing workshops and have set up thirty-minute one-on-one critiques plus some fifteen-minute meetings.

    I couldn’t be more excited about the event and doing a lot of leg work to prepare for the conference to make the most of it.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      That’s wonderful! There are so many great conferences happening in so many places at such a variety of times. Glad you’re attending the Philly one! Have a productive time!

  5. Deetje Wildes July 18, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    For 15 or 20 years, though not every year, I have attended the Green Lake Christian Writers Conference in Wisconsin. I hope you will add this event to your list of resources. Joyce Ellis was once my teacher there.
    Later I have majored in poetry, and this year I’m staying home and my poetry friend here in town is joining me to continue learning from my many handouts from Wilda Morris.

  6. Jeanne Takenaka July 18, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Linda, I hope the conference at Taylor University goes well! I’ve been fortunate to attend ACFW or the past four years. I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed meeting agents and editors. But even more, I’ve loved meeting people face-to-face that I’d connected with online. Some genuine friendships have formed at these conferences.

    And, I love your suggestion of looking for someone more nervous than you and trying to make them feel comfortable. It’s never a bad thing to get our eyes off of ourselves. 🙂

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 11:49 am #

      Right! So often our nervousness subsides when we stop being so worried about ourselves and just engage with others. I think the writing community is the BEST!

  7. Katelyn S. Bolds July 18, 2016 at 9:37 am #

    Great post, Linda! I’m excited to attend the Taylor Professional Writing Conference, as well as ACFW, later this summer. Good luck with all your preparations.

  8. Richard New July 18, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Attending Realm Makers in one week! This will be the third conference for this unpublished author. It’s great fun, and you make great friends. You even learn something new from people already in the business.

    Highly recommended.

    Any conference will do for starters.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 11:50 am #

      A couple of my students will be at Realm Makers! Have a wonderful time!

  9. Sheri Dean Parmelee July 18, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

    Thanks for the posting, Linda. I look forward to my first conference in Nashville next month!

  10. Martha W Rogers July 18, 2016 at 12:58 pm #

    I’m laughing because if I used ANY of those excuses not to attend conferences, I would NOT be where I am today with my writing. I am such an extrovert that meeting new people is fun. At my first conference in Tulsa OK back in the early 90’s, I met Karen Ball and Francine Rivers. Both encouraged me and kept me writing. Then I met DiAnn Mills and she convinced me to join a new organization that was forming, ACRW. I did and began attending those conferences.

    When money was an issue, I applied for scholarships and other times the Lord miraculously provided. However, I may use #1 after this year. At age 80, it’s becoming more difficult to travel and leave my husband alone at home. I will be there for 2016 and look forward to learning more because I intend to write until the Lord takes away my physical or mental ability to write or takes me home.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 3:59 pm #

      Oh my goodness! What an inspiration you are. I hope that I can say that when I’m 80!

  11. Crystal Hayduk July 18, 2016 at 2:26 pm #

    I almost gave up on writing in 2012, but my husband suggested that I find a writers’ conference and attend before making that decision. I found St. Davids Christian Writers’ Conference and attending it was the best thing I ever did for my writing career (http://stdavidswriters.com/). It is located in western Pennsylvania and is held during the week after Father’s Day each year. The location on Grove City College’s campus is beautiful, the cost is reasonable, and the faculty provide excellent teaching. Each year, I am amazed by the benefits of the intimate atmosphere, which allows for networking, encouragement, and making real friends with the other writers of all levels who attend.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

      Jim Watkins will be thrilled to hear this! I will cut and paste your comment for him. He is a dear friend and also will be a speaker at our Taylor conference. I’m so glad you attend St. David’s. Keep going! I hear it’s like a family.

  12. Barbara July 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    I have a few friends who will be attending the conference at Taylor! I wish I could, but I’ve prioritized other things at that time. But I’ve found a lot of value in attending conferences.
    It’s worth the discomfort!
    I am already looking forward to the next conference that I can attend someday soon hopefully.

    • Linda K Taylor July 18, 2016 at 4:03 pm #

      Keep an eye on our website! As soon as I have next year’s dates, I’ll post them!

  13. Richard Mabry July 19, 2016 at 6:47 am #

    Linda, you’re exactly right. And let me throw in a low-key commercial for Texas writers who can’t make it to the ACFW in Nashville. Consider the Weekend With The Writers in Houston in October. Small group, close interaction with the faculty. No agents there, but that’s the major trade-off I see. Thanks for the post.

    • Linda K Taylor July 19, 2016 at 7:29 pm #

      You’re welcome! And any gathering of writers is a good thing! Not everyone is ready to pitch an agent; sometimes we just need one another for encouragement.

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