Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Writing workshops & conferences--which one?

My fellow blogger and good friend Kathy of Well Placed Words mentioned in her last entry about using what she had learned at Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel workshop. Hers is an excellent example of what you can gain from attending workshops and conferences.

Given that it is possible to attend more than one workshop or conference on any given weekend and that the majority of us do not have the money, time or energy to attend year round (and when would you write?) which one to pick?

A few tips:
1. What would you want to get out of anything you attended? Be as specific as possible. Do you want to meet other authors? Agents? Editors? A community? Or are you searching for new tools to improve your writing? If so, in general or one particular problem, or if you are a genre writer, writing for your genre? Or both?
2. When you've narrowed down what you want, now is the time for research. Finding workshops or conferences is easy. Find ones that suit your specific needs then research those. Visit the web pages, the blogs and the MySpace that many of these events have. Talk to other writers about their experiences with a particular conference or workshop. If a workshop has "texts" that go along with it (Donald Maass has Writing the Breakout Novel for example) read those and see how you respond. Google the conference and read the comments (with a grain of salt, of course).
3. And finally, RELAX. The quality of workshops and conferences, perhaps because of the intense competition, is extremely high. Although I haven't attended tons of these, without fail, every one I've attended has been excellent, useful and fun.

So, what has your experience been? Or have you taken the plunge into the vast writing support pool? If not, what would you like to do? Where would you like to go? And why?


Kathy McIntosh said...

I've always wanted to attend the Maui Writers' Conference. But then I wonder why, given that other workshops I've attended have been spent inside, listening and taking notes. Location may not matter unless you have time before or after to soak up the setting. And/or the sun.
(And thanks for the mention, Conda!)

Swubird said...


My experience has been mostly technical writing. I took several university courses in it. I did it on the job. And I have a tendency to do it in my personal writing. But one time I attended a conference where three first time fiction novelists spoke about how they had managed to get their books published. It was fascinating. All three, as it turned, just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Luck. But the deal was, in order to get their first book published, the publisher wanted two more books within a certain time period. And that period was short!

Very interesting post, as usual.

HAve a nice day.

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Conda,

I love attending writers' workshops and conferences. If nothing else, they are great for networking. But I always manage to learn something new and interesting no matter what kind of workshop or conference I'm attending.

Great post!

Suzanne Lieurance
The Working Writer's Coach
"When Your Pen Won't Budge, Read The Morning Nudge"

Conda Douglas said...


Yes, it's been my experience that you really don't get to see the outside of the hotel/conference center the whole time.

And you're welcome.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Swubird, and yeah, there is an element of luck involved...but it's good to be "ready" for it to strike--usually the editors do want more, yesterday!

Conda Douglas said...

Hi Suzanne,

Your comment reminded me that I don't know of anyone amongst my writer friends who hasn't said the same thing: "I always manage to learn something new and interesting no matter what kind of workshop or conference I'm attending."

And thanks for your great morning nudges.

The Muse said...

They have them in exotic spots? Maui sounds fantastic! Perhaps when the little one is a little bigger...

Conda Douglas said...

Yes, Muse, there's writing conferences and workshops all over the, now if I could just win the lottery...

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