Should You Attend a Writers Conference? Part I – M. Ruth Myers

Should You Attend a Writers Conference? Part I

It’s that time of year when many a novelist-in-the-making, whether of P.I. stories or other fare, begins to think about attending a writers conference. Should they? Should YOU?

Please note I’m not talking about a fan convention or weekend workshop. When I say “conference” I mean a week-long event where participants attend two or three specialized classes every day, and perhaps one-shot panels or lectures in the afternoon and evening. For example, a writer might attended sessions on novel writing and poetry writing every morning, or sessions on nonfiction writing and play writing. Class choices might even include some specialties, such as mystery writing or SF-fantasy writing.

Tuition for a week of teaching by established writers is pricey.  I’ve taught at some very good ones: the Antioch Writers’ Workshop, Mark Twain Writers Conference (now defunct), Cape Cod Writers Conference (reconfigured). My students always gave enthusiastic evaluations of my classes. Nonetheless, I confess to mixed feelings about how useful a writers conference actually is.

This week and next, I’ll offer input to help you decide whether it’s worth big bucks to attend a writers conference. Keep in mind that on top of registration, you’ll have transportation, lodging and food expenses.

Let me start your decision making process by asking two questions:

  • What do you want or expect to get out of attending a writers conference?
  • Where are you on the path of your own writing career?

Give these questions more than passing consideration. Write down your answers. Then stop back on Feb.16 (or 17 if the Monday post is late going up).

In next week’s post, Part Two, I’ll tell you what to expect at a conference. And what you’re not likely to find. I’ll also share ideas on how to get the greatest benefit from your attendance and how to decide if you should wait another year.

Now. Hole up in your Cave of Honesty and come back next week.
M. Ruth Myers writes the Maggie Sullivan mysteries as well as other books. She was on the original faculty of the Antioch Writers’ Workshop.