The life of a writer can be a solitary one; and while an active social media platform goes some way towards overcoming feelings of isolation, it’s not the same as meeting people face-to-face. There are lots of ways you can do this, from writing classes and socials, to digital conferences like our #SelfPubCon. If you haven't registered yet, the next conference is in less than three weeks, hop over here to sign up. Elizabeth Dulcie, author member, has just been to two in-person writing conferences and is here to tell us why you should be attending conferences too.
Every year, I make a point of attending at least one conference; and this year, I’ve been to two. So, why do I think this sort of event is so important?
A One-Day Writing Conference Masterclass
Back in April, I spent a day in Leicester with a couple of hundred writers at the Self-Publishing Conference. Run by publishing services company, Matador, for the past seven years, this day is packed with information on the latest trends in the indie world. It’s aimed primarily at newbies, but even with nearly eight years’ experience, I found it a useful update. And arriving the night before, I was able to meet some of my fellow delegates over supper, which made me feel less alone at registration the next day.
For me, the highlight of the day was the Keynote Address by ALLi’s own Orna Ross, entitled The Rise of the Indie Author. I suspect she shocked some attendees when she announced: ‘I don’t do PowerPoint; you do paper and pencil.’ It certainly made a refreshing change and reminded me of the days when we used to take notes in lectures, before we started being spoon-fed. If there’s a presentation in front of us, and especially if we know the slides will be available afterwards, it’s easy to switch off and lose concentration. But not so in this case.
Orna began with a whistle-stop tour of Self-Publishing 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0. before moving on to the key phases for an indie author. She emphasised we can’t do everything ourselves; it’s about teamwork, with the author as team leader. Two wonderful quotes I noted down: ‘marketing is writing and writing is marketing’ (which we all know, but sometimes try to ignore). And one for the older members of the audience: ‘Indie authors are like Bob Dylan; we’re on permanent tour!’ A perfect masterclass in Indie Publishing.
A Full-On Week
Then, in August, I headed back up the motorway, this time to Derbyshire, for the seventy-first annual Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick. While there’s no-one who has attended every year since 1948, there are many writers for whom this combination week of work and play is a fixture in their diaries. I’ve been going since 2006. Swanwick runs for the best part of a week, and is a total immersion experience with writerly activities time-tabled from 8am to 10.30pm, plus meditation, acting, singing, dancing – and talking, continually talking. With three hundred delegates, there’s always someone new to meet, give advice to, or learn from. There are specialist courses – this year, I worked on my crime plotting in advance of starting a new series of novels; short courses and workshops; guest speakers after dinner each night; competitions to test our powers of deduction as well as our writing abilities; and a thriving bookshop, where delegates with text books on any aspect of writing or publishing do particularly well. A visit to Swanwick is a shot in the arm for any writer and is rarely a one-off experience. And as usual, I have come away inspired to get writing…
Benefits of Face-To-Face Writing Conferences
- The chance to break down the isolation by spending time with like-minded people;
- The ability to talk all things writerly all day; this is especially good for those writers whose family or friends don’t understand or support what they do;
- An effective networking situation; collaborations and friendships are forged face-to-face, which can then continue in the ether;
- A way of keeping up to date with industry trends;
- The opportunity to learn something new; Continuous Professional Development or CPD, to use business terminology;
- Inspiration! There’s nothing like bouncing ideas around for getting the creative juices flowing.
I already have my 2020 diary up and running. And next year’s conferences are the first dates I put in there.
Over To You
What are your experiences of face-to-face writing conferences? Are they important to you; or do you feel an active social media platform is an acceptable alternative?
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