Being in a creative environment offers writers many benefits not found elsewhere
A few weeks ago I attended a writers conference, the Festival of Faith and Writing. Setting a record, there were over 2,100 attendees who invaded the campus of Calvin College. I wasn’t planning on going and then changed my mind at the last minute. I’m glad I did.
Rather than reporting on specific things I learned, I’d like to share some general observations as to why I advocate going to writers conferences, which this one exemplified:
Non-writers don’t understand writers, so most everyplace a writer goes he or she is among people who don’t comprehend the writing life: the joys, the struggles, the motivation, the isolation, the rejection, and so forth. A writers conference is one place writers are surrounded by likeminded people. Their writers don’t need to explain themselves or guard their words; they can be themselves and be accepted for who they are.
A writer’s conference is a supportive environment. There we see other people who have found success in the writing world. Sometimes it is widespread acclaim, but usually, it’s more moderate accomplishments. They show us what can happen and motivate us to do the same. Writing conferences spur us to persist in our work.
Writers conferences offer variety in both attendees and presenters. By being exposed to a diversity of backgrounds and ideas, we expand our perspectives and open our minds to new possibilities. This informs our writing.
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Of course we go to writers conferences to learn about the craft of writing and the business of writing. This is valuable, but I list it last because to me the other items are more valuable. Still the educational lessons I learn to stay with me.
I go to two writing conferences a year (though this year I’m making an exception and will attend three). A couple a year is enough to help keep me fresh and focused. If I go to too many it would actually get in the way of my writing, and I can’t allow that.
If you’ve gone to a writers conference that didn’t provide this type of environment or offer these benefits, maybe you picked the wrong one. But don’t dismiss all conferences just because one left you wanting. Instead, pick a different one and try again. You will find the right one.