“Why do you go to those writing conferences and retreats?”

This question was posed to me recently by one of my non-writer friends. My initial answer was something super-eloquent along the lines of, “Because!”

Can I argue a point or what!

All joking aside, I thought about why I do like going to writing conferences and retreats. Sure, there are the informational sessions and workshops. You get to pitch to and chat with industry professionals like agents and editors that you would normally not have access to. You get to catch up with your writing friends and critique partners. There’s often really amazing swag and tons of free books. You get to wear really cute sparkly shoes. (Okay, maybe that’s just for me.)

The Waterworld Mermaids at the 2012 WRW Retreat

The Waterworld Mermaids at the 2012 WRW Retreat

Any one of those reasons is enough for me to register. Yet, there’s still something else that makes me use vacation time at work, buy that plane ticket, pawn my dog off on one of my friends or family members, put my life on hold, etc. And that reason is … inspiration.

Spending a couple days with other writers always puts me in a really amazing mental place. The minute I walk in the door, I feel the creative wheels beginning to turn – even if I’ve been in a major writing draught. I love listening to stories of successful authors who started in the same place that I did. It’s amazing to sit next to an editor or agent and realize they are just a normal person looking for that next great story.

My advice to any newbie writers starting out is to find a writing conference or retreat, get yourself a pair of comfy shoes and go be inspired.

To help you, here are a couple of conferences/retreat that will give you a good place to start:

WRW’s “In the Company of Writers” – I’m partial to this retreat because my local RWA chapter puts it on every spring AND it’s where the Waterworld Mermaids met.

RWA Nationals – The Romance Writers of America® host a large, multi-day conference every summer. This is a whirlwind, but really, really informational. It changes locations every year too.

RT Booklovers Convention – I’ve never been but I’m dying to go! Plus, I’ve never heard anything but good, fun comments about it. This one is for both writers and readers of romance.

Remember, you don’t need to spend any money or go someplace exotic to get that same inspiration. You can always have a homemade/staycation conference that I like to call a write-in. Invite some writer friends to your house for a day, a couple days or even a couple hours. Turn off the internet, buy some chocolate and wine (especially if you’re inviting me) and do your thing.