Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Pack for That Conference Just Yet...

We all know how important it is to hone our craft as writers. We need to read voraciously, constantly strengthen our storytelling skills, and learn the business of publishing so we don't end up querying our YA Thriller to a non-fiction agent. One of the best ways to both learn and network is the writer's conference. But if you can't make it to one, there are a number of great ways to grow as writer that don't require packing or bad hotel coffee.

The Teaching Blog:

I like to genre hop when I am trying to seek out advice on writing. Sometimes insights into say the children's market or the horror market yield great tidbits that help me better understand my own genre. There are, of course, some great blogs out there that truly dispense accurate and timely advice to writers no matter what you write. Nathan Bransford, Quintessential Query Experiment, and the Character Therapist are just a few to check out.

Virtual Conferences:

I am currently attending a "virtual conference" called WriteOnCon, that is actually for children's lit authors, but I have to tell you, I've learned so much. Its a three-day affair with speakers and opportunities to ask questions...Best of all, its free. I really wish there was something like this in the Christian romance genre. I would totally pay to attend a conference in my pj's.

What's cool about virtual classes and conferences is that they have many of the same elements as a real conference. They have live chats with editors and agents that you can register for and enter your questions. There are video feeds of Q and A sessions with publishing professionals. Not to mention some outstanding posts with great information on subjects that affect ANY writer. Queries, advances and contracts, refining your craft...great stuff no matter your genre.

The Webinar:

This is a little different than a virtual conference in that they generally have a cost. Webinars are often given by well known agents or editors. Rachelle Gardner is doing one on Composing a Killer Pitch this month through Writer's Digest. They aren't cheap, but again the convenience of not having to travel is a plus.

The Critique Group:

I can't stress enough the importance of hanging with other writers. Artists in every discipline do this and for good reason. I get great information from other writers on contests, conferences, classes, and general buzz in the industry. I learn about things like formatting and what not to do with your query from writers happy to share their experiences. Critique groups aren’t' just for reading each other's chapters every two weeks. They're for encouragement. Nothing beats a knowing nod when you're crushed over a rejection than someone who has been there.

What do you do to improve your craft? Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by geishaboy500.

4 comments:

Catherine A. Winn said...

I'm attending the same Write on conference and have really taken a lot of notes. This was such a good idea and I hope it catches on.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I do like online conferences and sometimes I take online writing classes too. I read writing books and do a lot of internet research for writing areas I'm interested in.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Like you, I read a lot of writing blogs. I also have a tough group of test readers that aren't afraid to say when I suck.

SonshineMusic i.e. Rebecca T. said...

I wanted to do Write on Con, but didn't have time this year. Hopefully they do it again!

Also, I left you a little something on my blog :)