On Writing Conferences

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I know it’s been a long time coming, but this is going to (finally) be my post about The Pikes Peak Writers Conference (PPWC) and about my take on conferences in general based on my experience there.  PPWC was my first conference that I have attended, and it was a pretty wonderful experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the conference with the writing club at my school, which made it even better.  It truly was a magnificent experience and one that I will cherish forever.  Cheesy, right?  But it was a genuinely wonderful experience and what actually got me going with this blog and with the writing side of my life in general.  I’m not goig to break down the conference day by day and workshop by workshop.  Each day had it’s amazing aspects, but I want to focus on the entire thing as a whole because everything combined is what made the experience such a great one for me.

PPWC 2016 was the first writing conference I have attended.  You may be thinking “well why are you writing this post about writing conferences (plural) if you’ve only attended one?”  That would be because I think that my experience at PPWC is similar to the experiences that are out there to be had at other conferences across the country (across the world?  I can only hope someone is reading this in another country).  The biggest take away I got from this conference was inspiration.  It may seem a tad cheesy (again, I’m sorry), but the conference was so inspirational.  It was such a pleasure getting to hear from well known writers, and it was just as valuable hearing from writers whose first books have just come out, or from my fellow attendees hoping to land a book deal.  I learned so much and it was so incredible just being around other writers for four days straight.  It’s always nice to find someone who shares your love of writing and reading, and to be able to talk to that person about anything and everything involving those two topics as much as humanly possible.  Well, at conferences, that is literally all you get to do for [insert number of days here].  Regardless of what I actually learned from the workshops – and there was plenty I learned, I’ll get to that in more detail shortly – I was able to be around other writers, to hear their crazy story ideas, to encourage them in their craft, and to talk about my own progress towards writing my book.  It was pretty swell, if you ask me!

The thing that I expect everyone wants to hear about is the workshops.  Well, let me tell you, they were pretty swell as well (ha! A rhyme).  I took a copious amount of notes and now have a seemingly endless amount of resources on writing a novel in a short amount of time, on building more vivid settings, on creating a better first page, and on social networking successfully.  I will say, with that last one in particular, I am already seeing the progress!  Nowhere before have I been able to learn the tools of the trade from the actual masters.  Not only did I get to learn, but I got to speak with them one on one, pick their brains a little bit (though not too much I hope), and now I follow them, and some of them follow me, on Twitter.  I may be a bit of a book nerd when it comes to these things, but I’m pretty excited about that!

Going into the conference without a finished novel manuscript, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of the weekend.  I didn’t know if I would actually learn anything since I didn’t need to know how to successfully query or how to self publish (hopefully one day soon I’ll need that information).  While I do think that the conference as a whole was geared more towards those with completed manuscripts, that definitely did not mean that there wasn’t anything for me to do.  I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs in the back corner the whole time.  The first page of one of my stories was critiqued by a literary agent, an editor, and a New York Times best selling author, for Pete’s sake!  My time and money were definitely well spent. Still, though, the most valuable thing I got from this conference was the time away from the world of reality spent in the world of writing.  I’ve been having withdrawals since the end of the conference (yes, almost a month ago.  I’m really late to the after-conference blogger party, I’m sorry) because I haven’t been around people who talk novels and short stories non-stop.  It was really a rejuvenating experience, and one that I think is important for every writer out there.  It’s important to recharge your writing batteries, and that’s what this conference did for me.  With the expertise and encouragement I received from others at PPWC, I hope I can extend my writing battery life all the way until next year (or at least until one of the other numerous Pike’s Peak Writer’s events coming up).  That’s why this post in on writing conferences.  It’s plural because I think that every writer should take advantage of an opportunity to attend a conference and refill their tank (I’m brimming with cliche metaphors this evening) so that they can finish their manuscript or start on that book that they’ve been waiting to begin.  My philosophy is to take advantage of any writing related opportunity that comes my way.  Who knows if I’ll be able to attend conference again?  That’s a long way off, but at least I took advantage of the opportunity I had this year and made the most of it.  I had a fantastic time at PPWC 2016.

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Image via Word Sharpeners

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