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Why you should attend a weekend writing conference

I’ve been going to the West Virginia Writers annual conference for years. Some years I miss, but I’ve probably attended more than a dozen times over the years. But for the first time this go around I wasn’t there to teach, or be on a panel, or do a reading—I went there just to attend, just to hang out with all the crazy creatives you find in such a place.


I’m glad I did it this way, because it opened my eyes to a few things.


First, people there are incredibly nice and supportive, and I don’t think that’s unique to this particular conference. People there for their first-ever conference, in particular were welcomed, applauded, encouraged, and went home with recharged writing batteries. I think I noticed that more this time, because I wasn’t focused on my own seminars and panels, not worried about conveying whatever I’m usually there to convey and getting it right. Instead I just hung out, met a lot of people, played literary trivia (my team won), made some new friends and reconnected with some old ones. I attended those panels and seminars instead of just teaching them, and found them really helpful. Can something be exciting and low-stress at the same time? Seems like it can, because that’s what I felt last weekend. 


So why should you go to one, assuming you want to be a writer or are working to be a writer?

Writing is famously a lonely business. Joyce Carol Oates is quoted as saying, "For a writer, the ideal state is solitude. The ideal state is being shut in a room with the door closed." And yes, that’s a good way to write, but it’s not a particularly good (or healthy) way to live. Writers need to get out in the world, see and be seen, interact, find a community (true for everyone, not just writers). But how to do that when you mostly want to talk about writing and your latest project and how cool it is to put words, the right words, to paper, and you are naturally introverted?


The B-52s on their first album sang, “If you're in outer space, don't feel out of place, Cause there are thousands of others like you…others like you.”


They are like you, and they do like you, so both meanings apply. Get out of your locked room and get your batteries recharged. Go find your tribe.


If you are looking for a weekend conference, pw.org has a pretty extensive database. Comment below and tell me about your first or best writing conference experience.








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