Wednesday, September 23, 2015

5 Reasons to Attend a Writer's Conference

This week many of us here at the Alley are on a post-ACFW writer's conference high. Some of us returned depleted -- I haven't had a voice since the first day of conference. Gulp. But we're all jazzed and ready to reengage with our writing.

Writer's conferences are expensive. So why should you start saving today to attend one next year? I'm so glad you asked!

1) At a writer's conference like ACFW, you will find camaraderie.  For maybe the first time in your life, you won't be the only person you know who has multiple voices in your head. You won't be the only one who sees a headline and immediately spins it into a dozen what-ifs that could launch a book. You will be with people who understand what it's like to live like that. The realization you aren't crazy is frankly priceless.

2) You will learn how to be a writer. True, you can learn that from books, but there is something special about sitting in classes taught by FANTASTIC, successful authors and marketers and business professionals. You can ask people questions that the pages of a book just can't respond to. You can learn tools that will help you better tell the stories of the people in your head. You will also learn how to let go of bad ideas. Believe it or not, we can fall in love with a character or idea that simply isn't ready. You can fix that at a conference.

3) You make key connections. Every single one of my books is contracted because of a relationship that was forged in the appointments and hallways of ACFW. Every. Single. One. There is nothing that pulls you out of the slush pile like meeting face to face with an agent or editor. You become a real person with a personality and passion. One editor who voted in the acquisitions meeting for my next series teared up as she told me how she knew they were helping make my dream come true. That kind of connection does not happen via email. You have to get out there and become a known person.

4) You have an opportunity to serve. Writing is so, so solitary. It is too easy to become focused on ourselves. As a result we stop serving. Many conferences like ACFW will have simple ways for you to give back. Turn your focus off yourself. Sit down and learn about someone else's journey and story. Pray for them. Listen to their pitch. Ease their nerves. It is so priceless. And you may just form some lasting friendships like those here at the Alley.

5) You gain God's perspective for your writing and career. At ACFW, there are daily worship sets, a prayer room that is open 24 hours a day, and keynotes and tracks on the spiritual aspects of writing. Conversations are focused on God and His partnership with us. It is a very real part of the atmosphere. It is quite literally a retreat for me. A place I go to regain His perspective on what I'm doing and the why.

There are many other reasons you could join a writer's conference like ACFW. What would you add to my list?


Angie Dicken said...

Having gone several years in a row, I say AMEN to all of your reasons, Cara!! Can't believe how much these resonate specifically with me. Also, I feel like this year I really got a feel for the market and some clarity for my next steps. It seemed to all click. Love how there is such an amazing opportunity for writers at ACFW...all different kinds of writers, but options for everyone!
Glad to have a little time with you!! Can't wait until next year.

Cara Putman said...

Me too, Angie. It was great to get a piece of time with you. Next year, we will have to plan intentionally to grab coffee and catch up!