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6 Things I’ve Learned About Writers Conferences


August 22, 2013 by Jen Cudmore

This week I attended the monthly meeting for the Alaska Writers Guild (AWG). The committee has been hard at work setting up the 6th annual conference and I started to get excited.

I so look forward to the AWG Conference each year! I highly recommend all writers attend because there are so many benefits. This year the conference is September 6-8th, but registration is only open for 2 more week, so be sure to sign up right away!AWG

After four years of being involved, here are some things I’ve learned:

1.     Professionals are giving people. We’ve been fortunate to have some wonderful speakers here in Alaska,  and they don’t just come in search of talent. Most of them are down to earth. They like sharing their knowledge and experiences and genuinely want to see writers succeed.

2.       Attitude makes a difference. If you’re argumentative and opinionated, attendees and speakers are less likely to want to be near you. But if you try to understand where others are coming from, you’ll earn their respect. They’ll be more willing to give, and more willing to hear your pitch.

3.    All the speakers have something valid to say, no matter their area of expertise. Be prepared to learn something – from everyone. Conferences aren’t just about landing an agent, editor, or publisher. I think people get more out of it when they don’t focus on pitching their story. I found I learned more about how to succeed from authors than I did from agents.

4.     If you ask for feedback, be prepared for it to sting a little. When I volunteered on the committee, I often helped set up manuscript reviews between speakers and attendees. Many times folks came away a bit upset by what the professional said about their work. For one of my reviews, I remember being quite overwhelmed with the critique, but I took it seriously. Although the process was a little painful, I found it quite helpful.

5.     Attendees are supportive of each other. Most folks who register for conferences don’t just go to glean all they can or get a contract. They also go to make friends and pass on tidbits of advice from their own experiences. They provide encouragement and develops partnerships. We are a community, after all, and we need each other.

6.     Fun, fun fun! Meeting new people, sharing encouragement, mingling with writers of all various stages of the journey – that’s what it’s all about. We are inspired by the tidbits we learn and can’t wait to get home to implement them. We have a few laughs, maybe a drink or two, and simply enjoy ourselves.

This year the AWG has another great line-up of speakers. Hope to see you there!


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