Good morning writers, wanderers and world builders, I hope you’ve all had a brilliant week.
Yesterday, I attended my first ever writing event. It was hosted by the Writers & Artists, and included workshops, a keynote talk from a wonderful author (Rachel Joyce), and panel discussions with publishers and agents. I’ve never attended anything quite like it, and I enjoyed it far more than I thought my little, introverted self would. I learnt so much.
Have you ever been to a writing event? Maybe a workshop, a festival, a talk? I would highly recommend it, for the following reasons;
1. You get to meet other writers
For me, this is what made the day so wonderful. I am a desperately shy person, who rarely socialises, and suddenly I was in a room with a whole bunch of people I’d never met before. But guess what? Most of them were exactly the same, and so we awkwardly came together. I met writers in the same position as me; unpublished, unsure, determined, nervous, excited…and it was refreshing to offer advice to them and take advice back. I also got to meet the absolutely lovely Lorraine Ambers, who has helped me by offering extremely helpful feedback on my novel. She is an incredible writer, and to meet her in person and talk about the industry we are trying to break in to was amazing.
2. You hear from successful authors
Listening to successful authors talk about their journey is so lifting. At this event it was Rachel Joyce, bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She spoke about how you have to make friends with doubt, and the struggles that writer’s face day to day. It was so encouraging to hear that she experienced the same doubts, difficulties and obstacles that us unpublished writers face…and yet now she has published several books. If she can do it – so can we!
3. You’ll learn so much
Throughout the day I just felt I was being hit in the face by learning curves…constantly! I learnt more about the craft of writing, I learnt tips for the dreaded synopsis (I’ll type these up for everybody soon), I learnt about the industry, the dos and don’ts of publishing and submitting to agents. There are so many resources online to learn all of this, but listening to industry professionals in person had such a huge impact.
4. You find out what agents really want
On agent web pages they will give a brief overview of what they’re looking for. Perhaps they’ll say, “I want to represent romance novels, or commercial crime fiction, and I’d like you to send a synopsis, a cover letter and the first 3 chapters.” And that’s great! But yesterday, hearing agents speak on the panel, I got to know some of their personal preferences on a deeper level. This was anything from where they read their submissions (one was while she was on the train), to the types of things they like to see in the cover letter. If you are ever able to attend an event where an agent from your list is speaking, it is worth going to find out a little more insight into what they want and how they want you to submit it to them.
5. You’ll get a confidence boost
It’s overwhelming, being a writer. You are constantly bombarded with advice, with dos and don’ts, with success stories from some, and tales of multiple rejections from others. Attending an event can give you a boost, making you realise you’re heading in the right direction. One author said “a great novel should have this” and I was able to quietly think, “yes! mine has that!” Or “a synopsis should do this” and I thought, “well, mine does that!” It was definitely an experience that made me feel more excited about going forward, and for that alone I would recommend it to all writers who need that positive push.
Of course, these reasons listed above will not necessarily be true for all writing events. It depends on the line ups, and the structure of the event. But these are just some reasons why you should keep an eye out for writing events, and attend if possible.
I’d love to hear your experiences. Have you been to one? Would you like to? Comment below, or contact me, to let me know.