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Ozarks Chapter American Christian Writers


The Hidden Value of a Writer’s Conference
President’s column
– by Jeanetta Chrystie
Oct-Nov 2009 OCACW newsletter
Recently a writer asked me, “Why should I attend a writer’s conference?” Several potential responses raced through my thoughts as I replied, “They offer many opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise.” As we continued discussing the idea, I began cataloguing specific reasons for future use in responding to similar questions.

Obviously, attending a writer’s conference is an investment of your time, money and energy. Scheduling around work and family commitments may create some stress. You may already have more writing ideas than ten people could write in a lifetime. So why bother?

  1. Many businesses are relational. The writing business is no exception. Many assignments are invented during a writer’s conference. You will find new markets for your writing.
    You meet editors, who may look over your writing clips and listen to ideas aimed at their publications. I did this at a writer’s conference when I met editor Lin Johnson. Since we met, I’ve written almost 30 articles for Church Libraries magazine and 2 for Advanced Christian Writer.
    You hear about upcoming topics for magazines, and immediately formulate ideas to fit into that issue. I did this at another writer’s conference when I heard that Christian History magazine was looking for writers for their Dante issue. I pitched three ideas for matching articles and they bought one, my article “The Pilgrim Way.”
    Your reputation, developed during the conference, finds its way from editor to editor. My throat-cancer survivor story circulated and I sold “When Your Friend Is Grieving” to Discipleship Journal.
    You meet like-minded writing friends who introduce you to an editor over lunch, where you listen to the editor talk about needs. I did this, met Jesse Florea, and he later published my article “Into the Wind” in Clubhouse magazine. Plus, these writing friends can be a source of encouragement and inspiration to help keep you writing and submitting.
    You meet agents, publishing house representatives, and well-known authors with ideas and advice. I could go on and on with more examples, but you have the idea.
  2. Immediate learning benefits. Writer’s conferences typically bring in keynote speakers, publishers, editors, and other authors to encourage and instruct you. Whether you choose a workshop about marketing poetry or a continuing series about writing a book proposal, you will learn a LOT in a short time! You can learn about different genre, participate in writing contests, listen to writing critiques, discover new markets, and improve your professionalism.
  3. You will be inspired. Writers, and want-to-be-writers, can become sidetracked by life’s busy pace and multiple “to do” lists. Attending a writer’s conference focuses you on your writing goals, energizes you to write, and inspires many ideas through interactions at the conference.
  4. You’ll return home armed with tools. I always bring home many pages of notes, a folder full of writer’s guidelines and workshop handouts, business cards of editors and other writers, a sack full of sample magazines, and instructional books and CDs to improve and expand my writing.
  5. It’s often tax deductible. Are you tracking your writing sales, submission, and expenses to claim on your income tax forms? Like our group’s membership dues, writer’s conference expenses are likely tax deductible for you too. If in doubt, consult http://totallyhonesttaxtipsforwriters.blogspot.com/ or ask your tax advisor.

Are you convinced yet? If so, check out the writer’s conferences listed in this newsletter; or search for others at http://writing.shawguides.com/ by date or location. So I ask you, is the value of attending a writer’s conference really hidden? Only until you attend one – then you’ll know!

Dr. Jeanetta R. Chrystie has sold over 500 articles, newspaper columns, and devotions. She has authored two college textbooks and 5 poetry chapbooks in more than 20 years of part-time writing. She teaches online Business Administration classes for SMSU (that’s Southwest Minnesota State University); and runs 2 web sites: Teaching (www.SouthwestMSU.edu/FacultyStaff/JeanettaChrystie) plus Writing & Speaking (www.ClearGlassView.com).

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