May 1-3, 2008 marks the 40th annual writing conference sponsored by Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc. This year will be my sixth year to attend, and I'm so excited! Not only do I get to see my writing group The Inklings, but I also get to see all of the other writing friends I've made over the years. The best part is that each year, I've been able to meet new people who share my interests. Some of them are aspiring writers while others are working in the field as either writers, agents, or editors. It's a wonderful place for anyone who enjoys writing. If you'd like to attend or learn more about it, go to the www.owfi.org
Attending writing conferences is important. They are excellent tools to inspire and motivate. Plus, they can help you network. Like people, conferences have different personalities. One of the things I love about OWFI's is it encourages open communication with speakers and attendees even after the sessions. An abundance of social time allows for maximum connections. Believe me, not all conference planners do that. I attended a conference once where the speakers were escorted from each session with armed guards! (Okay, maybe not armed guards, but the message was clear that we were peons not to speak to them.) I was disappointed. Sometimes, it's after the sessions that one can learn the most.
A problem some writers face is that they develop Social Writeritis. That is, they attend all the conferences and meet all the people, but they don't do anything about it. They don't enter contests, they don't submit their works... they don't even write. These people can be easy to spot when you ask them what they're working on. They usually look blank. Or they reveal that they have a lot of great ideas. It doesn't take long to realize these people are more into speaking than writing.
And that's fine. More room on the bookshelf for the rest of us, right?
However, if you want to be a real writer, don't be a poser. Just write.
And attend a conference to learn more about what you're writing. I promise it will be like going to school where it's recess all day.