Monday, April 15, 2013

What I Learned at the Madison Writer’s Conference

This past weekend I did something new. I attended my first writer’s conference. And, I have to say, I had my doubts about what a conference could really do for me. After all, just to sign up for one day of this weekend long event it cost me over a hundred dollars, which may not be a huge sum of money, but as I’m still new to the self-publishing game I’m trying to spend every penny wisely. I have to say though; it was absolutely a worthwhile experience, one that I would love to repeat. I think next year I’m going to try to attend the entire weekend.

On Friday I was in Madison at the 24th Annual Writers’ Institute where I met with other writers including the fabulous Jen Naumann who I blog with on The Writer Diaries, and listened to established writers, published both traditionally and independently, discuss their journey and offer advice.

Me and Jen Naumann

I attended four workshops. Two that focused on YA literature, one on deep editing and one were we discussed the female superhero; but there were plenty of options available for writers in any genre. And, I have to say, that while I liked some workshops more than others, there was something I was able to take away from each one which I think will improve my writing.
There was a lot to take away from this experience, so I thought I’d share with all of you some of the things I learned.

1. Even writers with big name publishers are doing their own promo work.

As a self-published author getting my name out there and learning how to market my book has been the hardest part. But, as it turns out traditionally published authors don’t have it much easier. Granted every publishing company will be different, but from nearly every traditionally published author I spoke to the consensus was that they still do most of their own promo work.

2. You have to make time for writing. If you push it off saying “I’ll start writing after…” you’ll never get to it.

One thing I was surprised to see was that I was probably one of, if not the, youngest writer at the conference. This made me feel a little bit like a new-bie, but good at the same time. With school, work, not so subtlety suggesting to my boyfriend that maybe he should propose, and the thousands of other things I have going on in my life I’ve wondered more than once if I really should be pursuing a writing career right now. But, what I learned was that there’s always going to be a million things going on. Once I get done with school I’ll be looking for a big girl job, and then there will be house hunting, a wedding, and kids in my future. So, I might as well write now. No matter when I decide to go after this dream I will have to make time for it.

3. Stay positive, even the greats were once armatures.

 As much as I love the stories I write there will always be moments when I read something by someone else and think, I wish I could write like that. Writing is something you do, and with anything you do, with time and effort you can do it better. I love the stories I’m writing now, but there’s still room for improvement. The occasional negative review I receive is enough to remind me of this. But that’s okay; it just means that with each book I finish I’ll love it more than the last. So don’t let anything keep you down. There’s room for all of us to be authors. There will never be such a thing as too many books. So keep at it, I know I am.

I also have a few links to share with everyone. I haven’t had the time to do more than look these over, but I think there are writers out there who will find them useful.

Madison Writer's Institute
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
What’s Hot – a site for what’s on top in the media
The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

If you liked this post you might also like Things that Will Make You a Better Writer


  1. Great post! Sounds really interesting and so jealous you two met!

    1. It was a good time. Hopefully one of these days we'll all get to meet up.


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