As part of the writer’s life, encompassing the opportunity to learn and network is necessary to facilitate growth on one’s creative journey. A writer’s conference is one of those valuable opportunities if it meets the following criteria:
- does the content fit your needs at the stage you are in your writing?
- do the benefits outweigh any costs that might be paid?
- what do you hope to gain from your attendance / participation?
- does it offer more than bragging rights – are you going just to say you’ve been to a conference or rub elbows with so-and-so?
- does it offer a range of opportunities?
When deciding if a conference is worth the time and effort, a writer must look at, not only the cost of going but the benefits gleaned from the experience. Writing is a lonely activity, for the most part, and a chance to make a connection with others who share your passion is a great opportunity but also a big investment. By investment we are not only referring to the fees accompanying conference registration but also the time it takes to attend a conference. Both must be considered thoroughly – would your money be spent wiser elsewhere, or would it be time better spent, say, writing?
The content offered by a conference will either meet your needs or it won’t, depending upon the stage of your writing and the expectations you have for your writing future. “Never stop learning” should be a component of every writer’s life and it drives your decision when you select the workshops you might attend and the value they have to you. Consider if they are introductory, mid-level, or advanced – or are they general enough / specific enough to offer you something to ‘take home.’ The whole purpose in attending a conference should be to further your writing journey. If you are going, just to say you’ve been, or perhaps a chance to slip your unsolicited manuscript into the hands of an unsuspecting editor, think again and reconsider your actions and your reasons for attending. What do you pay?
A writer only has to peruse the listing of the many conferences hosted throughout the year and the country to realize that costs vary, with some out of reach for the emerging writer, or someone on a tight budget. Consider again, the benefits in relation to the cost. Check out the conference programs and who is hosting the function. A conference about speculative fiction or sci-fi fantasy may intrigue some writers but not everyone writes in this genre and although the fundamentals of writing and character development or plotting apply to any genre, a whole conference geared toward this particular style of work, might not benefit all writers.
If you have to make choices, it might be more appropriate to find a conference geared directly to the type of writing you do or one that offers a range of events, displays, and workshop choices. Most include a trade area with vendors who sell their products and services. Don’t look at this as just an opportunity to spend your money. Consider the value in the research and network aspects of it – meet new people, explore ideas, invest in your experience – it might open up doors to the future of your own writing career.
For value and selection – choose a Conference such as the “Everything is All Write” Writer’s Conference hosted by the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. This event offers tremendous value and the Foundation has continually offered quality for a low price – encouraging and ensuring that many writers – any age, any stage – are able to attend. Check out their web site for more information www.wfscsherwoodpark.com – consider a membership for added value!