Why Writers’ Conferences

I’m a believer in writers’ conferences and would go to more if I could afford it. Not so long ago I attended Mount Hermon in the spring and the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in the fall.

I’d even like to attend smaller conferences such as the one the Orange County Christian Writers’ Fellowship sponsors or the nearby Antelope Valley Christian Writers’ Conference. I used to periodically attend the ACW conference in the Los Angeles area, but for the last several years they’ve held their western US workshops in Arizona.

Why would I want to go to all these conferences, you might wonder. After all, isn’t much of the information the same?

Some is. But I go to these conferences because I learned when I was teaching that there’s always room to improve. Hearing someone else speak and interacting one on one or in small groups with other writers may supply me with some new way of networking or plotting or deepening character.

Besides learning more about the craft, however, I go to conferences just to hang with other writers. I have wonderful, caring friends and family who are interested in my writing and who pray for me, but other writers are going through what I go through. They know what yet another rejection letter feels like. They understand the level of dependency and trust in God’s sovereignty this business takes (or the level of worry and bitterness it can foster for those who go it alone! 😮 ) Sometimes it’s just nice to be with a bunch of people who are in the same boat.

A third reason I like going to Christian writers’ conferences is because they remind me of my reason for writing—I desire to glorify God through stories, and now through nonfiction as well. In a tight economy, for those of us trying to earn a living as writers, it’s easy to get off track and think making money is the point of it all. For me, the point is obedience to the job God has called me to, and conference speakers often remind me of that.

Here’s another one—I like to go to writers’ conferences because I get to see friends I’m making in this business. I may have started out attending another writer’s class, exchanging some emails, chatting at meals, and before you know it, these colleagues are friends. It’s good to get together with friends.

Lastly, writers’ conferences put me in touch with the professionals on the other side of the table—agents and editors. I like hearing their perspectives, picking up their tips, getting whatever insider information they’re willing to share. Writing is a different business, and if those who know are kind enough to offer help, I want to be there to accept.

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