Inspiration from a Writer’s Conference

24 Jun

I just spent the last three days at the 4th Street Fantasy Con here in Minnesota. It is a small, single-track convention devoted to Fantasy writers and readers. Attending panelists and participants traveled from as far away as both coasts. I believe Canada was represented as well. The panel discussions were fully interactive with audience participation the rule rather than the exception. The single track meant that you could see every panel without worrying if you would miss something. As usual the small group discussions between panels and after hours were some of the most interesting. These people were scary smart and some of the best read individuals I have every met. Talk about recharging the creative batteries!

More importantly, as a “First-timer” I was welcomed and treated like an old friend. I can say with all honesty that, as a writer of fantasy fiction, this was the best three days I have spent in a very long time. I will be making this an annual event on my calendar. Over the next several weeks, I’m going to use my panel notes to discuss some of my take aways from this conference.

First and foremost, I have been reading from many of you that you are or have been stuck, hit a wall, become unmotivated, lack confidence or direction, or in any other way have stopped writing. I too have been suffering from a form of Spring shutdown. Mine has been due primarily to landscaping projects that were postponed from earlier in the year due to a LONG winter and WET Spring. However, prior to attending this weekend’s conference, I had decided to take back my writing time and recreate my writing habit.

Attending the conference was like pouring gasoline on smoldering embers. Listening to and participating in active discussions about writing with highly intelligent and well-published authors and editors in my genre was like touching off the solid rocket boosters on the space shuttle. I received some well thought out advice, as well as heard ideas and trends that fired my imagination. Even though I didn’t always agree with what was being said, the sheer volume of information transfer was enormous. I defy anyone who is a fantasy writer to sit through a 4th Street Fantasy conference and NOT be amped to get back to the keyboard.

So, I have brushed off some goals I set for myself in January. Set a few new ones and readjusted my priorities. Going forward, if I am engaged in writing at the appointed times, the following will apply: If it is not bleeding, it breathes normally, or has been poisoned but, will not die until after my writing timer dings, DO NOT OPEN or knock on the door to my writing room. DO NOT call me and expect me to answer. DO NOT expect me to retweet or post blogs until that day’s WIP writing is finished. PERIOD! End of discussion! Got it!

Okay, that was mostly for my benefit, not yours. 😉

Now for a few questions for you. Have you attended a writer’s conference that just fired your rockets? Which conference was it? Are you aware of any Writer’s forums were intelligent discussions on craft and ideas are discussed regularly? Do you read outside of your genre? What do you look for when you do?


Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Other Strangeness


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11 responses to “Inspiration from a Writer’s Conference

  1. byjhmae

    June 24, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to a writers conference but I live in the middle of nowhere so I’d have to travel half a day to get to one. That being said my aunt went to one in Florida and she had a horrible experience. The first pages of people’s manuscripts were put up on a screen and belittled by the panelists in front an audience, and the writers asked to stand up and ID themselves after the abuse. She said people were in tears. I’ve wondered since my aunt told me that story if this is commonplace at conferences.

    • Dennis Langley

      June 25, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Wow! That seems very harsh. Absolutely not what I experienced. This was a very open, supportive and friendly atmosphere. And, very affordable!

      • byjhmae

        June 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

        Glad to hear not all are like that. I shall fear them no longer! 🙂

  2. Sara Kjeldsen

    June 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    I have yet to attend a writer`s conference, but I think it would be a good idea. It seems to have very much inspired you. 🙂

    • Dennis Langley

      June 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

      It was three days well spent. I highly recommend it.

  3. Kourtney Heintz

    July 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    If you write for children, SCBWI’s Summer Conference is awesome. If you write across genres, Writer’s Digest Conferences rock and they have a terrific Pitch Slam. I love Killer Nashville too for mystery and thriller writers.

    • Dennis Langley

      July 8, 2013 at 7:11 am

      Thank you for the information. I’ll have to look into them. And… thanks for following.

  4. Nicola

    July 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Great post Dennis! I’ve been interested in collecting information about the various writing conferences for a while now because while I’ve attended other professional conferences I’ve never done one for writing. I’m glad you had a great experience, and when I do get around to going to one, I’ll let you know about it. On another note, a colleague of mine goes to conferences with the Romance Writer’s of America, and she has shared great experiences. Also, I believe they have multiple sub-genres so if your book has some romance for instance (paranormal romance) it may be worth a shot.

  5. Dennis Langley

    July 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    I have heard that the Romance Writer’s conferences are fantastic. However, I wondered if I could get anything out of them. Now I’m very sure it could be beneficial. I recommend getting word of mouth recommendations before you attend one as the style and quality of each can be varied.

  6. ltownsdin

    July 10, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I had a great experience at the Left Coast Crime conference last year. It was just like you described. They made me feel so welcome, I learned a lot and felt re-energized. I’m so glad you had a good time at yours!

  7. Dennis Langley

    July 11, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    It is good to crawl out of the dark solitary writing cave once in a while and socialize with other solitary creatures. This will become a trend.


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