Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

When asked whether he thought writing courses stifle writers, Ernest Hemingway famously said he didn’t think they stifled enough of them. You have to wonder what he’d think of the Romance Writers of Australian national conference taking place next week in Melbourne, where 350 writers are gathering to catch up with friends  and share information about the craft. Certainly not stifled. is a good article about what’s coming up.

Already the net is abuzz with the excitement of those attending, me included. My suitcase sits open and half packed, my notes and giveaways for the workshops I’m presenting are ready. I’ll be talking on Creativity and Feeding the Muse at the Published Author Day next Thursday, then on The Art of Layering Your Romance Novel with Jennie Adams on Saturday.  Other sessions range from social media and marketing to staging a convincing fight scene.

Learning is a big part of writing conferences

From this you might think the benefit of being there is mainly in learning from experts. While that’s a big part of what conferences are about, here are some other reasons I think they rock.

1. You catch up with colleagues you only “meet” online the rest of the year

2. You find out what everybody else has been writing

3. You load up your case with free books as well as the booty from the conference bookstore

4. Somebody else feeds and cares for you during the event (writers with families know how amazing this feels)

And most importantly:

5. You find out you’re not the only person in the world who…….(fill in the gap)

#5 is huge, because all of us at some stage have thought we were the only one getting sucky feedback from editors, going through a dry patch when ideas were non existent, unable to write because of life in general,  or thinking a day job at McD’s was looking good. Knowing others are in the same boat can lift your spirits and get you back in the game faster than almost anything.

Right now there’s a huge amount of upheaval in publishing. Nobody really knows where we’re headed, making it even harder to write than usual – and it’s tough enough in the good times. Being among like-minded friends can reassure you that it IS worthwhile hanging in there, writing the book of your heart and trying to get it published. When something is hard, it’s usually the most rewarding when you make it.

Then there’s the social side of cocktail party, awards dinner, charity auctions and hanging out with friends in lobby, coffee shop or late night bar. Everybody gets something different out of this side, but we all come away feeling supported, encouraged and fired up to get back to the keyboard.

If that’s not enough to justify the time and cost, there are those other magic words – tax deductible.

Are you going to a conference soon or have been to one lately? What was the best thing about it for you?







Comments on: "Writing conferences, 5 reasons why they’re worth your time and money" (4)

  1. Kylie Griffin said:

    I LOVE going to conference every year, more than one if possible.

    My favourite thing? Gee, that’s a toughie to pin down – but probably meeting up with friends and just talking and talking and talking and talking, closely followed by seeing how much our organisation has grown or what has been achieved (ie. Awards dinner highlights).

    Much of this can be attributed to a strong foundation of support and encouragement, whether it’s professional (RWA) or personal (people you know in the community).

    I love the aftermath of conference too. The getting home and unpacking of goodies – the books, the prizes, the freebies, re-reading workshop notes, the inspiration/recharge you get from being among others who are just like you.

    Can’t wait for Melbourne (and Auckland the week after). See you there, Jedi Master!

    • Wow, I’ve gone from Minion Meister to Jedi Master? Will check out bath robe and see if it’s fit to wear LOL. Another benefit of conference is being able to celebrate your friends’ achievements – like your debut book, Kylie. You’re getting an honourable mention in my Valerie Parv Award speech this year.

  2. Seriously, Valerie, what isn’t there to love about conference? Definitely agree to all points above. I’ll add – ‘the chance to fully be myself’ as I have kept my writing only between my family and some very close and understanding friends.

    My husband can’t wait for me to go – he’s sick of me talking about it, lol. See you in a few days!!

  3. Interesting observation, Anita. I wonder how many writers feel they can only reveal their “secret identity” among other writers. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, and my husband only ever knew me in that role, so it wasn’t an issue for me – it was and still is, who I really am. WYSIWYG. LOL at husband ready for you to be on your way. Look forward to seeing you soon, too.

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