“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.

8 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Hey Kerri, I agree a thousand fold – getting together at conferences fantastic – but also just getting together with other writers can really make a difference. Writer friends are at the essence of how I’m able to keep writing:)… so yeah to conferences – RWA, WRW, MRW, and weekends at the Lake House or hanging out with you and Harry – write-ins, meetings, conferences – all good.

  2. Kerri,
    I couldn’t agree more. Retreats and conferences are always wonderful for the workshops, but there are so many great ones offered online that it means there’s something special about the in-person experience. There’s such a feeling of belonging at a writer’s conference. Other people there GET US. We struggle along the same road, and when you hear “successful” authors talk about STILL struggling, you finally see that it’s all a big, ginormous struggle–just in different ways. You ask yourself if this is a business you should even be trying to break into, and then you hear those motivational speeches and you talk to someone new, and you realize YES, YES and triple YES. It is.
    Because sometimes it’s not about the business. It’s about the story. And we all have plenty of those.

  3. While I love the simple answer, “Because”, “Inspiration” is perfect for that question of why to go to retreats, or simply just be around your fellow writers. I was only able to be at our WRW retreat for two hours this time around but even in that tiny window of space, I couldn’t help but soak up all that unique energy floating in the air. Now back into the cave to put that inspiration to good use. 😉

  4. Absolutely Kerri! I have been to both RWA Nationals and RT. Both are fabulous, but I really love the smaller conferences. To me, the smaller conferences like WRW’s In the Company of Writers Retreat give you a chance to connect with other writers and the opportunity to talk with industry professionals. But any time I can spend an afternoon with other writers I walk away feeling refreshed and, Kerri used the perfect word, inspired. Happy writing!

  5. I like conferences because they kick me in the butt career-wise and give me new ideas and motivation to do what I’m doing…only better.

    I like write-ins because they kick me in the butt and MAKE ME WRITE. They also help remind me that there are other writers out there with the same distraction problem I have…who need the same sort of accountability sometimes.

    We are a special breed of crazy, and should therefore stick together! 🙂

  6. One hundred percent agree!! With both “because” and “inspiration.” There’s nothing like a writing conference to make me more determined than ever to accomplish my writing goals. And if fun can be had, as well, so much the better.

  7. Hmmm. Where is Moonlight and Magnolias on this list??? 🙂 Maybe one day I will get to go to the famous WRW retreat so I can compare and contrast!

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