January 19, 2015
Who Needs Writers Conferences Anyway?
Since I’ve assumed the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, Pennsylvania (held this year from July 19th to the 24th), I guess there’s no better time to share my feelings about the importance of writers conference than now.
I think I attended my first writers conference in the late 90s and had an earth-shaking, eye-opening experience that changed my writing life. Since I had published a few poems, letters to the editor in the newspaper, and an article or two in some magazines, I thought I knew something and had a handle on writing when I went to the first conference, which was a one-day event on the border of PA and MD. I sat there all day with my mouth hanging open in a variety of workshops , realizing I knew NOTHING about the writing/publishing world. From that moment on, I decided to attend as many Christian writers conferences as possible. From 1999, I’ve attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference every year, and that conference has helped me become the writer I am today.
The best training you’ll ever receive is that which you’ll get by attending writers conferences. Next to your local critique group, writers workshops and conferences will give you the knowledge you need to become a better writer. The various workshops usually take you from A to Z concerning the writing/publishing business with fresh ideas for you to try. Do you have any idea at all how to market your book or start a blog? You’ll find out at most writers conferences PLUS a lot more.
You make new long-lasting writer friends, kindred spirits who think just like you do. (They don’t call us “Odd Ducks” for nothing.) When you’re writing in your home for months on end and no one in your family and your friends understand, it’s nice to have a list of writer friends to e-mail or call, just for encouragement. Where better to meet those folks than at writers conferences!
Writers conferences also offer you the opportunity to present your work face to face to agents and editors of publishing companies. I’ve acquired four of my book contracts by meeting editors or agents at Montrose. Most writers conferences attempt to have a faculty line-up, (including editors and agents) who represents various genres in the business:
Magazine articles and non-fiction books
Kids fiction and short stories
Humorous articles for newspapers and magazines
Poetry and screenwriting
Fiction (with numerous subgenres like fantasy, romance, Amish, etc.)
There’s always something at writers conferences for every writer of every genre. So if you’ve never been to a writers conference, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’re dead serious about being a published author, then please plan to attend writers conferences. I can’t think of a better place to start than at Montrose this coming July! I’d love to see you there! (Visit the MCWC website http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx and review last year’s schedule. We’re working on this year’s faculty and will post new information as soon as possible.)