I recently had the opportunity to attend the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference.
I will confess I was nervous and even reticent to attend.
- What would it be like?
- Would I fit in?
- Would the cool writers bully me?
You know, all the things middle-aged writers worry about.
But since I had a book proposal I wanted to pitch to agents and publishers and I knew my friend Joy Anisa was going, I thought, “What the heck. How bad can it be?”
So now my friends, let me tell you how blown away I was by this writer’s conference on so many levels.
1) I learned a ton of useful information
From the minute I arrived at the conference to the moment I left, I was filled with solid, helpful information about all aspects of the writing life. My brain got soooo full of information on writing, editing, using social media to build a platform, how to pitch to agents and publishers, and more. There were breakout sessions on every topic you could imagine. And the information provided could be applied to beginning writers all the way up.
One thing I did that I highly recommend is attending the pre-conference workshop. The workshop I attended was on writing a book proposal and a one-sheet. Kathy Bruins and Kim de Blecourt made us feel immediately welcome and secure. This warm welcome was important for during their workshop I learned I needed to re-work my book proposal. But I also learned that I had plenty of time to do so. No one expected me to have a perfect book proposal at the conference. Having a solid one sheet was a real advantage, and they made sure everybody got their one-sheet composed and printed before the night was over. But the biggest benefit of the pre-conference workshop is that it calmed my nerves and gave me a sense of community right off the bat.
2) I was inspired to keep writing
I think every writer hits those moments where she wonders if she is a good enough writer or a real writer. She may contemplate throwing in the towel and selling real estate instead. (I mean, I could write a great Zillow ad and spin wonderful yarns to clients about how a house could become a home).
A lot of time and energy at the conference was spent reminding us, “Yes, you are a real writer. You are good enough and you will get even better. Never give up!” This encouragement came through the keynote speaker, the breakout speakers, and the folks around the dinner table.
I had feared judgment and competition at the conference, but what I found was widespread acceptance and encouragement.
3) I did get to pitch my book idea to agents and publishers
This conference’s set-up gave every attendee the opportunity to meet with at least three publishing industry representatives. Most folks got a chance to meet with more if they so desired.
Pitching is scary, but we were encouraged in our orientation session that everyone was here to help and encourage us the best they could. We were told that even the “Nos” we heard would be followed by helpful advise meant to grow us and lead us to where we needed to be as writers. I found this to be quite true.
I got one no, two maybes, and a potential yes when I pitched. And the advice I got on the “no” was super helpful and I now consider that person who turned me down a friend.
So, don’t be afraid to pitch!
Even if you do not yet have a book idea you can still meet with experienced authors during pitch time and get their advice on how you might grow as a writer.
Nothing is wasted. Practice makes perfect. Pitch!
4) I learned about additional resources for the writing life I could plug into
The particular conference I attended was sponsored by Word Weavers, International, a critique and support group for Christian authors. At the conference, I was connected to a critique/support group in my area and since have joined and attended my first meeting. There are also online groups if there is not a Word Weavers group in your area.
All kinds of folks offering resources related to writing and speaking were at the conference, from the head of the Christian Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) to people running online periodicals, radio shows, podcasts, writer’s courses and more. One day I stopped by the snack shop to get a glass of milk (don’t judge, I love milk) and met someone who was interested in me writing for their online magazine. I had no idea of the resources out there for writers and am still sorting through all the contacts and organizations.
Which leads me to the best part of the conference by far
5) I found a community of fellow writers to encourage and support me for the long haul
The richest part of the conference for me was easily all the people I met. And this is coming from a strong introvert. I came home with a stack of business cards that represented a host of beautiful faces and stories. Thanks to the internet I can now connect with those folks and continue to nurture my relationships with my new writing buddies.
And this is invaluable. Because writing is lonely. And confusing at times. The best way to move forward is to have friends alongside you and ahead of you on the path helping you find your way.
So, now it is your turn. Check out this link for a Christain writer’s conference near you.