I just returned from a whirlwind weekend at the Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference in Los Angeles. I’ve been an author with Writer’s Digest since 2007, and a writer for their magazine since 2005, but this is the first time I’ve been to any of these coveted conferences (something about having a baby in between got in the way of travel). It was a marvelous experience, and in my opinion, exactly what a good conference can and should be for writers. Which is to say: It focuses on the craft of writing.
I’ve been to a number of conferences in the past fifteen years, as both participant and presenter, and I always hear the same feedback from organizers and writers alike: writers want craft. They want to be walked deep into the heart of how to make their work sing, come alive, find its structural feet. Now that self-publishing has become a tried and true way to publish, which means that more writers than ever before are doing it, writers are finding themselves reminded of that one unequivocal truth: readers want a strong story. Strong stories require thoughtful, careful mastery of the craft.
If writers only focus on the publishing and the business end of writing books, then you’re missing out on the most important part, the part that distinguishes you and which you’ll be remembered for: the quality of your work.
Not to mention: what do you get more excited about? Writing a marketing plan, or writing a story? Character development, or business development? Yes, they are both necessary, but there’s nothing like being around hundreds of writers excited about their stories, engaged and passionate about the creative process.
So, if you have a chance to attend a conference, be sure to pick one that is as rich in craft workshops as it is in how-to-publish information. You won’t go wrong.