For those of you that have been, you know how excellent they are. For those of you that haven't, you should at least try and go to one. Yesterday, I attended the Reno Writers' Conference. It is a "smaller" conference, but the upside of that is the environment is more intimate (not to mention, they're more affordable) and there are more opportunities to talk with the speakers (ie agents/editors/etc).
At this conference, we had some awesome speakers like Chuck Sambuchino from Guide to Literary Agents, and agents Gordon Warnock, Lindsey Clemons, and Verna Dreisbach that made themselves available for a session of questions from the audience (thank you!). (Which, by the way, if you're reading this, chances are you also read agent/editor blogs. And, if you go to conferences, you'll be surprised at some of the questions agents are asked. A quick internet search would solve a lot of them...)
I know, I know, we can find everything on the internet these days. But nothing compares to meeting people face to face. And, what I find to be the most valuable aspect of attending conferences is the encouragement I gain. Meeting other writers is difficult. Let's face it, most of us are hermits. We don't make ourselves readily accessible to meet others in general, let alone find other "hermits" to conspire with (unless you're lucky enough to meet great people through blogs and forums!). But at conferences, you meet all sorts of writers that are at different stages in the game. You're unified in your struggles, unified in your passions. You're motivated by those around you, all striving towards a similar goal. You glean inspiration from their hope. The speakers share their journey, and you are reminded that there truly isn't one way towards publication, if that is your goal. And, they remind you to enjoy the journey. You have to. The publishing industry moves at "glacial speed", so if you aren't enjoying the ride there, you'll freeze to death. Well, not literally, but you get the point.
Here are four "take-aways" from the conference that stuck with me that I wanted to share with you:
1) No matter what happens, always remember why you are writing.
2) Are you feeling frustrated about writing lately? That's okay. Remember this: "People that don't have any ambition aren't frustrated". (Thanks David Stipech!)
3) Do not put all your eggs in one basket. The first question a prospective agent will ask you is: "What else are you writing?"
4) You want to know how to get published? Write. Your success as a writer is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend writing.
For those of you that have attended a writers' conference, what are some of the things you learned and how were you encouraged?