A couple of weeks ago, I attended the first meeting of the Idaho Writers Guild. Fascinating and fun, but also amazing how much dedicated and professional talent there is in Idaho, the state with the least population of all 50. After a couple of hours, I returned home energized and invigorated about my writing career. On August 6, tomorrow, I head out to the Willamette Writers Conference for four fun-filled days of pitching agents. Or at least fun for me.
There are writers out there who despise attending any event or joining any group. Often true introverts, these authors point out that conferences and groups take away a lot of valuable writing time and energy. This can be true. The last few weeks I have been taking time to prep my manuscript, my pitch, my wardrobe, etc. and probably doing much more than I need--I'm a writer and being neurotic is required.
However, that time, for me has done several useful things. It has re-initiated and reinvigorated my enthusiasm for my craft and w.i.p. I've had myriad epiphanies about my work, both current and future. I've made a large number of wonderful, supportive contacts, fellow authors and other creative people. People who feed my creative spark, sometimes into a roaring blaze. And will meet many more this weekend. I always return from a conference energized to work and work harder, faster and more effectively than before. So for me, some group participation and some conference attendance are useful tools.
One point, don't make the groups and conferences and workshops become the writing. It's easier than you might think to replace the difficult work of writing, just plain writing and writing, with the far easier and entertaining activity of a group or whatever. It feels like you're working, progressing. And to a certain extent, that's true. But nothing replaces write, write, write. I suspect this is true of other creative disciplines as well, hence the "disciplines".
So, dear readers, what do you think about attending conferences? Joining groups? Does it help you? Or the opposite?
And I'll be back on Monday with a report on my experiences.