While you’re reading this, I shall be on my way to the Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard, where the sun always shines (well, it always seems to when we’re there) and there’s plenty of laughter to be had.
The writers’ conference season is well underway, and if you’ve never been to one of these then, seriously, put it on your bucket list to try at least one.
Firstly, they’re great fun. Well, why wouldn’t they be? They’re full of writers! Already you have something in common with these complete strangers (many of whom will become friends for life). Honestly, all you have to do is turn round to anyone and say, “So, what do you enjoy writing about?” and the next thing you’ll know is you’ll be on each other's Christmas card list.
But, of course, it’s also a great opportunity to improve your writing craft, through the variety of workshops and talks that you can attend.
In the next issue of Writing Magazine (September issue, out at the beginning of August) I chat to three writers who regularly attend these conferences. What I found interesting is that they’ve all found their writing has progressed. One achieved their dream of selling a story to a popular women’s magazine, another was inspired to finish their novel, while the third gained confidence from these conferences to enrol on a post graduate writing course and has now secured an agent.
So although these events are fun, they also offer an opportunity for you to learn and develop as a writer. Going to these gatherings allows you to immerse yourself in writing. You can put your normal, day-to-day, life on hold and simply be a writer: do writerly things, act like a writer, think like a writer, talk writerly things to other writers, and write.
Pick and choose the events carefully. If time is tight, opt for a weekend gathering, such as the NAWGFest, or the Writers’s Holiday February weekend. If you can afford a week, then consider the Writers’ Holiday or Swanwick Summer School.
These events might take place during the holiday season, making them great fun to attend. But you’ll also develop as a writer.