4 Things You Get from a Writing Conference That You Can't Get Anywhere Else

May 9, 2011

So. The LDStorymakers Conference on Friday and Saturday was amazingness served in a bucket of awesomesauce. This was the second year I've gone, and it was even better than last year. Five hundred fellow writers. Three amazing agents-- all of whom I'm planning to query. Incredible authors and presenters.

This year I didn't think I'd be able to afford it. It's actually cheap, as conferences go, and it's less than an hour drive from my house. But things are tighter for us this year. However, I decided I wasn't going to miss out, and asked for extra hours at work. It. Was. So. Worth it.

There are a million amazing helps for writers on the internet. There are blogs, podcasts, chats, Twitter, and Facebook. But there are a few things that you can only get at a conference that make it absolutely worth the money to go.

Encouragement - Blogging is great for getting encouragement from fellow writers. But there's something about actually being there, meeting each other in person, that makes the encouragement stick. You get to meet those who've made it, and those who are where you are. You're all reaching for similar goals. You sit down at a table with complete strangers, and in five minutes you're all friends because you get each other. I met some incredible people at Storymakers, and got to catch up with friends from last year.

Networking - There is literally nothing better than a conference for networking. There are pitch sessions and panels with the agents, and other authors and writers to meet. People are there to help each other. What can I offer you, and what can you give back? It's also a great place to realize editors and agents are people. They're funny and friendly and get a little nervous before giving a class. They want to talk to you. I was lucky enough to get introduced to agent Sara Crowe by her client Dan Wells. (And I finally got a picture with this author and friend who has helped me in my own writing!) Whatever happens, you meet people and are in a position to help and be helped.

Education - The classes offered at Storymakers were amazing. After attending Larry Brooks' master class (taken from his book, Story Engineering, which I HIGHLY recommend), I have a whole different take on the writing process. Hearing him talk about it, even after I'd read parts of the book, is what really made the information sink in. He had us apply what he was saying to our own work-- literally write things down, sort of a mini workshop-- and things just clicked. If you go for nothing else, getting an education from the professionals is more than worth the money of the conference.

Entertainment - I don't know how it is at other conferences, but Storymakers is just flat-out fun. The MC, Sarah Eden, was hilarious beyond words. Her videos (matching authors to genres, her 7-year-old explaining book genres, and Love's Secret's Passion) kept the entire crowd wiping laughter tears from their eyes. The fellows at Writing Excuses recorded a live podcast including agent Sara Crowe. When they played a game cobbling together random bits of stories to make a new one, Sara got stuck (and really, how you could weave a high-stakes poker game into a Matrix-like world with a harlequin heroine and a jock is beyond me). So Sara just rejected the story! I couldn't stop laughing (and neither could Howard Tayler). There are few places in the world you can go where people get your writing jokes, and you get theirs. While not a vital component of a writer's education, it sure makes it a lot more fun.

You can get a lot of these things in other places. But getting them all bunched together in two days? There's no better place than a writing conference!

So, my friends, have you been to writing conferences before? Are you planning to someday? What are your thoughts and experiences?

16 comments:

nataliefaybooks said...

Hey! Soon enough I'll go to my first conference. People are always talking about how great they are. All this buzz makes me even more anxious!

ali said...

Hey Shallee, I was there too! I feel like I didn't see/talk to anyone but a handful of people though. Sadness :(

So glad you had a great time!

Taffy said...

It was good, wasn't it! Sorry I missed the podcast. I was in Elana's query class at the same time I think.
Here's to saving for next years conference!

Reece said...

So, so jealous. I really wanted to go, but by the time I heard about it, it was too late to get the money together.

Thanks for the notes though!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I am seriously sitting at one of your tables next year! I couldn't really recognize people unless I could see their name tags. Next year they need to put little faces on the name tags to I recognize everyone! It was so fun to meet you, even if it was only for a second! And I'm definitely going to the conference next year. So awesome.

Jamie Burch said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time! I have yet to go to a conference, but one day I will. Maybe next year!

Melissa said...

Yet another reason why I need to go to a conference. Glad you had such a great time! It sounds awesome.

Jennifer Wolf said...

Love this post. Storymakers was so much fun. I wish I could have gone to every class and BTW your blog is very cool!

Margo Kelly said...

I have been to a conference, and it was wonderful ... :)

K.D. Kinney said...

Hi! I am just entering the blogging world and delving into what's out there and I just wanted to say I appreciated this post. I just joined the League of Utah Writers and plan to attend their conference in September. It's good to know what to expect!

I'm just starting my blog and I'd love for you to stop by! www.3pointperspective.blogspot.com

David Powers King said...

I'm going to have to add some envysauce, because I wish I could have been there this year. Hopefully things are better situation on my end for next time. And yes. I wish I had gone to conferences when I first started to write years ago. Love the experience. :)

Cheyanne said...

WOW that sounds so awesome! I've never been to a conference, and I live in Houston so I'm sure we have some.. I'll have to look into it.

There is nothing better than meeting an author you admire, so cool!

Jenilyn Tolley said...

I wish I could have made it this year. It sounds like it was awesome!

Tara (The Bodacious Pen) said...

I'm glad you had a good time at the conference! I haven't been to any conferences yet, but I'm hoping to change that by next year. :)

Angie said...

It was great. So glad I got to see you.

Tamara said...

Shallee, It was great to meet you at the conference this year and I totally agree about how awesome the conference is! I missed the podcast, but it sounds hilarious!

 
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