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Writing Conferences/Retreats


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#1 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 06 March 2017 - 06:28 PM

I'm not sure where else this would go, so it went here. 

 

What's a writing conference? I hear about them all the time, but no one has stopped to explain what they are. What's a writing retreat, and what's the difference between it and a conference? Is it worth my time to go to these events? So far I've been shoving the ads aside. 



#2 mwsinclair

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 11:42 AM

Writing conferences are conferences in which writers get together, often run by associations that cater to specific writing genres or even journalism. They're occasions to learn -- attend sessions in which you learn about, say, world building, or trends in the marketplace, or any number of things. Many of them also enable writers to meet with agents.

 

Writing retreats are places where you can focus completely on your own work; kinda like a working vacation focused on your writing. I've not attended any of these, but I believe they have a wide variety of approaches depending on the retreat. For example, you can be left on your own to do whatever you want to do with your work, while others might have sharing opportunities with other artists/writers who are in retreat at the same time.

 

None of these things are going to be free. You might have access to a free session or something within a conference might be free for attendees, but I'm not familiar with any free conferences for writers. The only "free writing retreat" I've ever attended was a staycation while my kids were at school.



#3 Blueberry Tide

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Posted 07 March 2017 - 05:39 PM

A retreat sounds really nice. That does clear things up a bit, thanks! 



#4 julialynn

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 07:34 PM

A writer's retreat is essentially a pay-to-play vacation that consists of other writers and writer-type activities, often in an exotic or desirable location. They can be quite pricey.

 

A conference is more like a gigantic seminar, where you go to take workshops, participate in pitch sessions with agents (results vary drastically and many agents dislike going to these because it's hard to tell someone to their face that their project sucks, etc.), mingle with writers and publishing people, and attend a variety of panels. My favorite free conference-type activity is the Brooklyn Book Festival, which happens in September every year and provides a plethora of free panels and mini-workshops to the public.

 

Before you splurge on a writer's retreat or conference, I'd consider taking a weekend to turn off your electronics and really focus on your writing. Try and eliminate as many distractions as possible and see how you do. Read about writing, read great writing, basically spend the weekend at home highly focused. Go for a walk, a jog, a drive, and just let your mind wander. Honestly that can be just as if not more refreshing than an event, without the need for travel and spending big bucks.

 

I'd also recommend joining a local writer's group, whether it's a workshop group or a Meetup or what have you, and if there are free workshops and literary events in your area, attending those. See if your local bookstores host any author talks, signings, or events. Participating in writer's groups that meet weekly whether online, in person, or both is a great way to hold yourself and others accountable without having to pay an organization anything. Plus you can host "events" and workshops at your home or local spots.

 

Writer's retreats are definitely what you make of them, but I'm wary of the really, really expensive ones that promise a lot of agent and industry-related things. I think they tend to attract people who desperately need a vacation and time to write outside of their busy day-to-day lives.


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#5 Litgal

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 12:13 PM

I am a huge fan of conferences for learning about the BUSINESS end of this gig. I learned more about the business of writing at my very first conference than I'd been able to discover on my own in the year leading up to it. Plus, I found my critique partners (initial ones) at conferences. I also made connections that are with me too this day. 

 

a few years back I blogged on using conferences successfully--here you go: http://www.fromthewr...ce-success.html


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#6 RSMellette

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 06:47 PM

What everyone else said.

 

I got my agent via a writer's conference. I made 4 pitches, got 4 requests for fulls. Heard one agent talking about my pitch as the best she'd heard. (She later passed on my MS saying she was a Sci-Fi Agent, and she thought I would be better served in YA).

 

Conferences are kind of like Agent Query Connect, LIVE! :)


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