Fast Company

Are Writing Conferences important?

This is the perfect question to ask upon my return from the Wrangling with Writing Conference in Tucson, AZ. I’ll let you answer that question for yourself based on my experience. At the conference, I taught four workshops, gave the lunchtime keynote speech and saw 15 people for one on one interviews working with them to hone their pitch. I have already heard from three whose manuscripts were requested by agents or editors after they presented what we created together. Of the 15 pitches I heard and worked with, about 5 were really ready to pitch and I could not have been more excited for those authors. They were well spoken, knew their stories/ideas intimately and were well on their way. What they needed was support in crafting their marketing angle – their logline that would be used as a part of their pitch. As writers we lose our objectivity so quickly, but it is imperative that we portray our story in the most compelling way possible when we sit in front of people who can help us to raise our game.

That being said, there were another ten writers who still needed to flush out their ideas, their characters, or their structure. They came to me with a variety of issues and it was my job to diagnose their problem and suggest the right cure. So what they found with me was clarity about their next steps.

And I was one of about 20 faculty invited to participate. Bottom line: conferences have so much to offer. Writing is a lonely business and the more we get out there and network, the better chance we have of surviving. Face time is imperative to building a network.

I walked away excited to continue relationships with four or five writers and an agent (quite a hilarious agent who kept stealing my drinks at the bar). There is no telling what the future holds, but friendships do develop at these conferences and from those friendships, great business relationships can be formed.

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