Five years ago, I began going to writing conferences. I felt beyond excited, and yet, very nervous about what to expect from them. The first year, I packed and brought my closet with me, which gave me a great deal of options on things to wear. But, my smile was the thing I wore that didn’t go out of season or style. To be honest, I couldn’t put it away even if I tried. I found “my people.” Writers, creatives, and like-minded friends, that I clicked with immediately. We discussed our sleep deprivation from long hours of writing in the night, to brainstorming our next person to kill off, and running story pitches by each other.
I saw myself growing in the writing world. Continually learning techniques and working on elements of my craft, and then applying what I had been taught from conferences and workshops. Every year, I was drawn to different classes, where I knew I still had much to learn. Along this journey, I went from writing a picture book, to creating a psychological thriller. I even got my fingers typing away at a time traveling fantasy, and then wrote some nonfiction articles. A lot of times I’d get ideas that would spring up and be completely in left field from my last project. But, I responded to the creative energy I was feeling, and allowed myself to create and play, and see where it might take me.
With that, my conferences changed. I’d go to some of the same every year, but others became different depending on what I happened to be writing at that very moment. Why? Because a way to stretch as a writer is to go to conferences and classes that benefit you. They should be providing you with new information, ideas, tools, and other ways of looking at your manuscript. The first time I switched up my conferences, I had a dampened demeanor. It was a conference where many of my writer friends attended, friends that I only got to see at this one. I wanted to be there, but . . . my psychological thriller desperately demanded attention, and what would benefit and feed that novel, wasn’t the conference I typically went to. I had to expand and open my options to give my dream of getting this book published an even stronger chance. Changing comfort to growth made a huge difference as the classes gave my story exactly what it needed. I learned about blood spatters, poisons, fingerprints, and gained a plethora of knowledge on forensic and criminology statistics.
Who knows? Maybe in the future, I’ll be working heavily on a nonfiction project, and go to workshops filled with information geared in that direction. There are so many great conferences. I haven’t had a bad experience at any of them, and have walked away with a notebook full of ideas and thoughts. My mind always energized and overcharged every year, at everyone I’ve been to. When you’re searching for a writing workshop, class, or conference, here are a few tips to consider before you choose the right one for you.
- What project/genre are you working on right now? What skills do you feel are a weakness in your writing? Aim for those classes.
- Will you be expanding yourself as a writer at this conference? How so?
- What stage are you in with your writing? What resources do you need more of?
Publishing, marketing, craft, or industry.
- Lastly, are you going to this conference for you or for someone else? If it’s both, even better. Make sure that you’ll be getting resources, that will be moving you forward in whatever stage you’re in with you’re writing.
Before deciding on the conference you’re going to go to, make a list of all the ones you have an interest in. Then, do lots of research on each one so you can understand the genre and classes that will be presented, but also the agents and editors that’ll be attending. If you’re writing an epic fantasy, going to a crime writing conference will not provide you with a magic system class. Be honest, and give yourself and your story what it needs to propel you to the next step in your writing journey. Have fun researching to find the conference that can help you do just that.
Lauri Schoenfeld’s first love is her little clan of three silly kidlets and her wonderful hubby, Andy. Writing is a close second. She began writing poems at the age of nine, and her love for literature and music developed into composing thirty songs. In 2014 her short story, Christmas Treasure, was featured in an anthology called, Angels from their Realms of Story. Her favorite genre to write is anything dark, psychological, and suspenseful, but she enjoys expanding her horizons and dipping her feet in other genres as well. Lauri teaches summer writing classes for kids and mentors teens throughout the year. She’s a Child Abuse and Scoliosis Survivor. Lauri runs a group for teen girls with Scoliosis called, The S Squad. Their motto is Strength, Support and Self Confidence. She’s been known to dance around the house with a spoon as her microphone and sneak toppings from the ice cream bar. Lauri’s taken online classes at the Institute of Children’s Literature and was the President of the League of Utah Writers, Oquirrh Chapter for two years. She’s a member of Crime Writers and International Thriller Writers.