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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are yearly writer's conferences really necessary?

We are a people of excess.

There is just something about human nature that causes us to get off on extremes.  All of us are susceptible to it in different ways.  People can go overboard by:

*  Starving ourselves to the point of anorexia

*  Being so rabid about politics that it consumes most of our waking hours to the near exclusion of other beneficial activities

*  Being so rabidly focused on fitness or a particular sport that we work to the point on injury

*  Being so focused on our writing we don't take care of ourselves physically.

That is but a small sampling of our extremes & omits the more obvious food/drug/sex addictions.  Of the above sampling, I've been guilty of all but one at one time or another.

For writers, I submit that one of our excesses is the idea that we NEED to go to a writers conference (sometimes more than one) every year.

I'm sure the very statement is enough to make folks bristle.

But do you REALLY need to attend a conference every year?

I understand the arguments for;

*  I get to visit with my friends

*  It's how I meet editors and agents

*  It's where I go to learn craft

*  That counts as my vacation every year.

I can see the logic.

But it also makes me ask:

*  Are friends only accessible at conference?

*  Do you really need a conference to get validation for your work?

*  At some point don't you need to quit book learning & become instinctual by writing?

I also wonder:

Have writers conferences come to have a stranglehold on writers the way that insurance has taken a stranglehold on people's health?

Has that stranglehold been loosened by the rise of the indie writer or is there no change? (and no, this is not a post regarding the tiresome argument of indie vs. trad publishing)

I've attended 3 writers conferences in the last 9 years and yes, I have gained value in every one.  But I can't imagine doing that every single year.  The excess of it would quickly grow old.

As with all other things in life, we must each come to understand what constitutes excess in our life.

And may we always be in a position to wonder and evaluate--and adapt if necessary.

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