Writing Conference…Wordbitches Style

I know, I know… we said we were back. Trish blogged a few weeks ago and said that the Wordbitches would be blogging again. And we are. It’s just that…well…we’ve been busy.

Yes, we are being very serious writer types here

You see, just last week we all attended the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, more commonly known as SiWC. And thinking about the conference, I decided that I wanted to talk a little bit about writers’ conferences in general and why, if you’re a writer, you should go to one. Now. For real.

This year, it occurred to me that this was the sixth time that I’d been to SiWC. Six times? I couldn’t believe it. I remember the first time I went. I was terrified. I mean, how far out of my comfort zone did I have to stretch to get on a plane, fly to Vancouver, and walk into a hotel full of strangers, and oh yes, tell them I was a writer. Or at least I hoped to be one day. Let me tell you, it was a huge stretch. HUGE.

Thinking back on that day, I’m both surprised and impressed at myself. Because I chose to get on that plane and attend SiWC, my whole life has changed. Sure, other factors have come into play during that time. But I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if it wasn’t for the fact that I pulled up my big girl panties, took a deep breath and broke way, way, WAY out of my comfort zone for the first time. (Here’s a secret—Like a lot of things…it gets easier after the first time.)

Over the years I’ve learned a lot, so let me sum it up for you. These are the 5 biggest things a conference can do for you:

1) You’ll meet other writers. This is huge if you’ve primarily been writing in your basement, bedroom, dim coffee shops, or alone in an office somewhere. Writing is a solitary event, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. There are more of us. I promise. And we actually like to talk. It’s amazing how only other writers will understand when you say something like, “I couldn’t believe it when my characters did that!” And no, we won’t suggest medication for the voices in your head.

2) You’ll learn. That goes without saying, of course. But you will learn. I don’t believe that you can ever know EVERYTHING about writing. Ever. There is always something you can learn from a session on pacing or setting. Or maybe just sitting in on a speaker’s keynote address will trigger something for your next story. That’s learning. Go and learn something!

3) Make contacts. Guess what a writers’ conference is full of? You got it! Writers, agents, editors and other industry professionals. And you never know who you’re going to meet. And who you’re going to hit it off with. You could be sitting at a lunch table with a famous New York agent. Or maybe you’re giggling with some NYT best selling historical romance writer during a master class. Contacts are huge. And they’re so easy to make at a conference.

4) Be inspired. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by creative energy all day, every day, for four days to completely and totally inspire you. It’s also exhausting, but hey, that’s what Monday is for. Every year, I sit in sessions and I learn. But I also get ideas. I sit with two notebooks. In one I write down things I’m learning and want to remember. In the other, I write down the fabulous ideas I’m getting for my story. You can’t leave a conference and NOT want to write something immediately. You just can’t.

5) Have fun. Okay, this may not have anything to do with writing. But everyone needs to have fun. And I’ll be honest, writers are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. And, they like to have a good time. So when all that learning is done…hit the bar. We tend to gravitate towards the bar (strange, right?) and have a little fun.

This picture is really everything that’s right about the Wordbitches

I keep going back to SiWC and really, I have a lot to thank this awesome conference for. If it wasn’t for SiWC I wouldn’t have met Trish, and then Leanne and the other wonderful members of my critique group, the Easy Writers. I would never have had the skills or the courage to keep writing. The knowledge to know that my words are powerful. The ability to continually improve my craft and the confidence to put my work out there. But more than anything else, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference and the relationships I’ve developed as a direct result of it, have helped me make one very important distinction—I no longer want to be a writer. I now know that I AM a writer.

The Wordbitches want to know? Have you been to a writing conference? Why or why not? What was the best thing about it? And if you haven’t been…what’s holding you back?

Special Announcement….

Another great thing about a writing conference is the opportunity to enter a contest. This year, none other than our very own Wordbitch, Trish Loye Elliot took home the grand prize for the Young Adult category with her awesome story, Career Day!
Can I get a big SQUEE for Trish?!



About Elena Aitken

Elena is a work at home/stay at home/write at home mom of twins who regularly loses herself in her fictional characters because their lives are way more exciting!
This entry was posted in Inspiration, The Wordbitches Scene and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Writing Conference…Wordbitches Style

  1. Love the pics of you three. Wordbitches, indeed.

    Congrats, Trish!

  2. gingercalem says:

    So, so, SO fun to meet all of you! Good times. And congrats, Trish, yet again. I’m thrilled for you!

  3. prudencemacleod says:

    I haven’t been to a major event yet, but it is on my bucket list. You guys are having way too much fun without me and I’m jealous. :)

  4. Emma says:

    Great pics and sounds like a lot of fun. Congrats, Trish.

  5. Carol says:

    I couldn’t agree more! With everything… including a squeeeee! for Trish’s win, and the benefits of conferences in general and the SiWC in particular. As an introvert and writer-mostly-in-solitude, attending my first SiWC in 2004 was a huge step. To get the most benefit from a conference experience I eventually had to step out of the shadows and take advantage of not just all the information that was available but the potential in new relationships, too. (So pleased to have met you three there!) My DD’s critique group is a direct result of a connection made during an earlier year at the SiWC, and my current critique group is also run by someone I met there. Pushing out of our comfort zones takes some determination and a lot of courage, but it’s oh, So. Worth. It!

  6. Soounds like the three of you had a blast. I totally agree about conferences – great place to learn, to kick back and meet other writers and to have fun.

  7. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Thanks all for the congrats! Couldn’t have done it without my wordbitches and all the Easy Writers (awesomest crit group evah!).
    Like Elena, I totally recommend a conference. Surrey is a fantastic one to consider.

  8. Jess Witkins says:

    I have been to two writer’s conferences and both were fabulous experiences for all the reasons you named! Especially the level of excitement and motivation you return home with. Congrats to Trish on your success! And love the photos, ladies!

  9. I think I should post the video of Trish calling me a bitch when she realized we’d hidden the win from her. :)

  10. Shari Green says:

    Let me add one more SQUEEE for Trish! So awesome! :D

    My first time at SiWC sounds a lot like yours, Elena — I was WAY out of my comfort zone, LOL. I look back on it as my “coming out” as a writer. I also met my first critique partner there (we started a crit group when we got home from Surrey…she’s since moved away, but we still crit for each other via email). That was 2006, and I have adored the SiWC ever since.

  11. Jody Robbins says:

    Congratulations Trish! I’ve been to one writer’s conference and it was well worth it. I hit it off with two women who I thought were freelancers like me. Turns out they also edited and approached me afterwards to write for them. Tip: never pitch anyone in the bathroom!

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