At the writers' circle that I go to, one of our members mentioned that she'd been to the Winchester Writers' Conference recently. As she spoke about it, it was clear to see the enthusiasm and enjoyment that she took from the event. As a novelist, she was trying to pick up any hints and tips to improve her work, and during the day she spent there, a publisher, agent and another writer read a few pages of her work and gave her feedback. She said that when the first told her what she should do to improve her work, her immediate thought was, "and what would you know?" Then, the second person gave her the same feedback. "Conspiracy theory," she assumed. They were clearly in it together. When the third person gave the same feedback again, she finally realised. Perhaps they were onto something after all. And already, since returning home, she's begun making changes and she can see the improvement. She now has more confidence in her work. But she wouldn't have gained this insightful advice, had she not gone to the conference in the first place.
The writing conference season is now well underway. Next week, the Caerleon Writers' Holiday kicks off.
Incidentally, Lynne Hackles is stepping in to run a series of workshops on writing short stories because one of the other workshop leaders can no longer make it.
Lynne is the author of 'Writing From Life : how to turn your personal experiences into profitable prose." She's also offering visitors to her blog, www.lynnehackles.blogspot.com an opportunity of winning a copy of the brand new second edition of this book, as well as a copy of her "Handy Little Book for Writers" - so why not take a look?
At the Caerleon conference, there are courses on fiction, poetry, true crime, beginning novel writing, advanced novel writing, writing comedy, crime fiction, romantic fiction and how to write non-fiction books. I'm running a course on how to be a positively productive writer. Course leaders and guest speakers include Irene Yates, Alison Chisholm, Steven Wade, Catherine King, Jane Pollard, Marina Oliver, Brad Ashton, Susan Moody, Janet Lawrence, Myra Kersner, Simon Hall, Gaynor Davies (fiction editor at Woman's Weekly) and many more!
Full details of the Caerleon Holiday can be found here.
Speakers include Christina Jones, Roger Ellory, Della Galton, Jean Saunders, Lucy Crispin, Will Randall, Benjamin Scott, John Jarrold, Katherine Parris, Stella Whitelaw, Marion Hough, Caroline Taggart, Mary Wibberley, Pat Belford and many more (including muggins here too).
For more information, click here.
Because of the networking opportunities and the chance to pick up new writing skills and knowledge, consider these conferences as learning or training opportunities, not luxuries.
Look out for any opportunities like this. It doesn't have to be a week-long residential conference. You may find a two-hour workshop taking place in your local library. Perhaps there's a literary festival that operates near you, and they have a writer whom you enjoy coming to do a talk. Often, there is a question and answer session at the end of the talk. It's the perfect moment to ask them for any hints and tips.
If you succeed in getting an article or a short story published, consider putting the money aside to help cover the cost of a conference or a workshop. Think of it as a reward for your success and stepping stone to even more success.