One of the things I like about being a writer is the solitude that comes with the territory. Admittedly, I’m not much of a social creature. Many writers feel the same way. So, when I see workshops and conferences being promoted in the social media circles, I’m a little torn. On one hand, I’m intrigued. On the other hand, I start making internal excuses as to why I shouldn’t/wouldn’t attend.
From a freelance writer’s perspective, many of the writing conferences I see are geared to folks that are writing fiction and seeking a publisher. For me, the only fiction I write that is continually accepted is sent to the IRS every April. So I would be more interested if indeed the conference was geared especially for freelance writers.
No rocket science here, folks. A writing conference is an opportunity to learn something new that could help your freelance writing business. Chances are good that you will meet some folks that you are drawn to and with whom you are able to connect. The relationships established at these conferences can be long term and beneficial to everyone involved. As well, sometimes it’s important to see what is happening in the freelance writing world through a portal other than your computer monitor. I tend to think that anything worthwhile is accessed through the Internet and that I know about most of the big stuff out there. Truly, this attitude is arrogant and a bit short-sighted. I think there are discoveries to be made.
In my previous life, I attended a lot of conferences. I attended local and national conferences often as a presenter. Other times I was a mere attendee. I enjoyed these conferences for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to travel and see different parts of the country. At the time, I was living in Alaska and trust me, any chance to get the heck out of Dodge for a week was welcome – especially in January. With that said, I freely admit the conferences were on my employer’s dime. Conference fees and travel expenses were all paid for by someone else.
The perspective changes a bit when you are looking at coughing up a grand (or more) for a conference. The danged things are expensive and you had better figure out the cost/benefit thing before you sign up. As well, the first time you attend a conference you are rolling the dice. A particular conference may not be beneficial to you at all and you won’t know until you go.
Another potential drawback is the temptation to:
Catch up on your sleep in a comfy hotel room.
Catch up on the newest pay-per-view movies in your hotel room.
Explore the local community. After all, you came all this way. Who knows when you’ll get to St. Louis again?
Hang out in the vendor area instead of going to the breakout sessions.
Work on a client project because you are up against deadline.
The point here is that a writing conference may be a good thing for you but you need to do the research and you need to be self aware in terms of how you may respond to the temptations listed above.
Have you been to a conference? What was the experience like?