I’m heading for a writing conference this weekend, and I’m really excited about it. If you’ve never been to a conference or a writing group, let’s explore the topic in this post.

I’m Not Ready
The first time I went to a writing conference, I was terrified. I was a 20-something who went back to college after taking a year off. I saw a post seeking people to apply for artistic scholarships; I applied on a whim and actually won a scholarship. (That’s a story to be told…) Part of the writing scholarship was taking part in college sponsored events to expand my skills as a writer; they hosted an annual writing conference, so I got a free ticket. All I could think was I’m not ready for this. There are going to be serious writers there – I’m working on a comic book.

I don’t know what I was expecting. Rotten tomatoes? Eggs? “Your script sucks. YOU suck. Get out of here!” I was convinced I wasn’t going to be taken seriously, and I was really afraid to share my work (although the whole point of going was to help me get over that fear – which I realize now).

Know how long that fear lasted? Maybe two minutes after I got there. The more experienced writers welcomed me. Many were fascinated by the fact this guy was sitting at their table working on a comic book. They’d never met anyone who wrote comics and were genuinely interested in what the medium required.

When I’m at a conference, I feel the same way about other new writers. I’ve met people in their teens, in their seventies, and everywhere in between. Some of them are published, some self-published, some just getting started and a few are interested but not sure they want to take the plunge. One writer wrote stories for his family – he told me he’d written a dozen novels for his children and grandchildren, how he ran a printing shop and bound them himself. He wasn’t going to publish them and had no desire to.

Don’t think for a minute you’re not ready. If you’re interested in going, you’re ready.

It’s Expensive
Yeah, I get it. A writing conference can cost a couple hundred bucks for a good one, more if you have to travel. I know what you’re thinking, I’ve said it myself – I can’t afford that.

I say sure you can. Plan. If you can’t make the conference this year, plan on next year. Save a little money every check – not enough to make you suffer, but so you have a realistic shot of reaching your goal. Take on a side hustle for a bit. If you want it bad enough, you can find a (legal) way.

Not convinced? OK, find a free group. There are some MeetUp groups for writing – they cost money to launch but joining is usually free. Some continuing ed programs at high schools offer writing classes on the cheap. Local libraries may run (or would probably start one if you asked).

What To Expect
Every time I come away from a conference, I feel refreshed and motivated. Getting out and spending an entire day focused on writing is a great way to give yourself a jumpstart if your motivation is waning.

What do you think? Have you been to a conference? What have your experiences been?