5 Reasons a Memoir Conference is Good for Your Writing Life by Linda Joy Myers
‘Tis the season for writing conferences! As you know, we writers tend to be solitary people—we have to be willing to slave at our desks alone for months and years while we write our book. Some writers are so dedicated to their writing they’re cautious about taking the time away and spending money, but sometimes we get a much needed dose of inspiration and input from taking the time to invest in ourselves as writers. However, there are doubts and questions about such a venture.
- I already know how to write, so what will I get from a conference that I don’t already know?
- A conference costs money—what value will it offer me?
- Maybe going to a conference is just a distraction from my writing.
- How will it help to get my book finished and published?
These are valid points, but as a veteran of dozens of different conferences, both as a participant and a presenter, I’d like to offer you some great reasons to consider a writing conference.
- You network with everyone, have fun, and build your platform
Yes, there is that term “platform” again! What it means is you’ll get to know people who will become your audience when your book is published. Networking is one of the best reasons to attend a conference. Just think—a whole room of people who are normally solitary get together to talk nonstop about writing, the current state of publishing, agents, social media preferences, where and how to use commas, and other geeky interests writers have.
- At a conference, you connect in person and build your community for outreach, endorsements, interviews, speaking engagements, and publicity in the future.
Virtual events are great and they help us broaden our outreach, but there’s nothing like shaking someone’s hand and looking into their eyes, cozying over to a corner to talk more about—your book, their book, their mentor, agent, or web designer radio shows and podcasts, and sharing yours. The best way to learn the path to successful published book is through networking with others and building trustworthy resources you can draw on when the time comes.
- Even if you’ve heard about writing craft, platform, or query letters before, there’s always the chance you will learn something new!
Every time I go to a conference, I hear experts talk about craft—writing scenes, character development, dialogue, language and description techniques, manuscript presentation—and each time I go, I hear something new and learn a new skill—and I have been going to conferences for 30 years. Though I’m already engaged with social media, I learn new stuff about Facebook, Twitter, and other ways to reach out, which are changing every day. I find out more about the inner workings of these systems and how to use them more effectively. Publishing is changing rapidly as well, and there are always challenges, new practices, and technologies to learn more about.
- It feels good to connect with others who face the same kinds of emotional challenges you do—the niggling inner critic, worrying about family critiques, and writing the truth.
Every memoir writer struggles with the process of getting their truth on the page and standing by it. It’s daunting to dig deep inside our memory banks and come up with memories that were buried, some for good reason. But it’s been shown that writing helps to heal the past, and that getting your story out of your body allows you to move into a better present and future. When you write your story, you become a compassionate witness to the younger you who lived through the events in your story, and lived to tell about it!
- You will leave with new skills, connections, and excited energy about writing and publishing your memoir.
A conference chock full of information about craft, process, networking, social media, and publishing and the process of learning and connecting fills the room with a great energy of excitement and plans for the future. You leave with not only more skills, but with the feeling of being buoyed up and supported. You’ll have dozens of new friends, writing buddies, and social media connections to help you get your memoir finished and out into the world. It’s a great investment in yourself as an author. Wear that title now!
If you hurry, you can get the Early Bird Discount for the Magic of Memoir Conference in Oakland. CA Oct. 15-16.