Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Writers Conferences: Get Inspired

Writing can be a lonely profession. Many writers are surrounded by family members who don't understand their desire, no, their need, to write. While they may be supportive of a writer's efforts, let's face it, unless you're a writer, you just don't know what it's like.

When I left Corporate America to pursue my dream of being a published author, the peace and solitude of being home all day seemed heavenly. And for a while, it was. I soon discovered, however, that being a stay-at-home mom also made me feel isolated. The social interaction I found at the office, was missing. My daughters kept me busy, but when I wanted to talk to someone over the age of 3, I needed to wait for my husband to come home. In case I haven't mentioned it, he's not exactly a talker. His parents call him Silent Sam. :)

As supportive as my husband was of my dream, he didn't care much about my works in progress.  He wasn't interested in how many articles I submitted or how many rejections I piled up. So, I needed to find  people who would inspire me to continue along my journey toward publication. Forums are great. They offer long-term support. But unless you have an active membership, sometimes you're left talking to yourself. And even with an active forum, you still need to meet face-to-face with other writers from time to time and talk writer stuff.

That's why I highly recommend writers conferences. When a friend and fellow writer turned me on to WriteAngles, I knew I had discovered my little piece of heaven. Never before had I spent one day without kids so I could totally focus on my writing. The workshops were great. I got a chance to meet one of our former clients from Pump Up Your Book!. The Agents panel was extremely helpful. And I came away feeling more inspired and eager to write than ever before--so inspired, that I joined the WriteAngles Planning Committee for the next conference. This is my second year on the committee and I've having a wonderful time.

Though I truly believe that in-person writers conferences are good for the soul, sometimes you just can't travel that far or incur the expenses. I've found most of the conferences I am interested in are held in the Midwest. I haven't made it to any yet, but hopefully if the schedule works out, one year I'll be able to turn it into a writers conference/family vacation week. But I am dedicated to my career, especially now that Little Shepherd is out and my next manuscript is off to the publisher.

Each year I attend the Muse Online Writers Conference. This is a totally online, free writers conference that takes place each October. I've participated since the first year, and I always come away with new connections, have learned a great deal, and been given a chance to hone my craft. I receive feedback from published authors on the exercises I perform. And last year, I got a chance to pitch a manuscript to a publisher. Maybe this year I'll be able to pitch to an agent.

No matter which way you decide to go, writers conferences offer you the inspiration you need to work toward fulfilling your dreams. Make time for at least one a year. Stay in touch with those you meet. I'm still in touch with many of the writers I connected with at the first Muse Online Writers Conference. It helps to have people around you who understand.


BarbaraB said...

Hi Cheryl,
I agree that writers' conferences can be inspiring. It's a wonderful way to meet people who are interested in the same thing you're intrested in.
I have attended most of the Muse Conferences and several SCBWI conferences here in Florida. It's especially fun to drive down in a car full of other writers from my critique group.
My poem, Opal, was published in Cricket because of a contact I met in Miami.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by Barbara. I would love to attend a SCBWI conference one day.

elysabeth said...


Hopefully you have some local writing conferences to you but if not, I'm sure there are some that aren't all located in the midwest. I attended the SCWW (local - South Carolina statewide group) conference twice as a volunteer (cost me hotel and travel to Myrtle Beach for this). Now that I'm into marketing and promoting, I'm looking at conferences from the other side - as a place to be an exhibitor or vendor to sell my books. I'm definitely trying to get involved in the social studies and teacher group conferences since that is my target audience.

You may also want to look into some Christian type writing conferences. I know there is one in North Carolina in February or March (check Vonda Skelton's website out for info on that since she is involved with that one for sure) and there are several others that are not in the midwest - either way - you still could plan mini family vacations around any of them -

Good luck - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?


Cheryl said...

I definitely need to do more investigating, but the ones I know of are in CO, NV, or other places. Mt. Hermon is in CA, which is the one I am told is go wonderful. It's pricey too. There's one con coming up in PA, which might be doable.