Bob Hostetler was both a general session speaker and a workshop leader for the 2013 WTP Conference. He was on my must attend list of workshop choices that year.
Now you’ve got all the tools in your toolbox ready to go. Get a cup of coffee and peruse the class and workshop offering of the conference you want to attend. Think about where you are in your writing life.
Newbies and Novices
Newbies should take beginner classes. If your favorite author is teaching an advance class don’t go. You’ll miss the basics and be overwhelmed by all the advance material. Try to sit at your favs table at lunch instead. Or introduce yourself during a break. Stay with basic classes for better success.
Questions for experienced writers
Is the class being offered in your genre something you need? If you’ve already attended fiction 101 in the past a few times you might want to attend a marketing class or an editing class instead.
Would taking a class outside your comfort zone be good?
You write fiction, only fiction. But let’s face it unless you’ve sold a lot, no one knows who you are. You might consider an article writing class. Millions of people may read an article you write as oppose to a few hundred who might buy your book. Articles help build your credibility as a writer. Non-fiction writers might find help with creating a more interesting book by taking fiction classes.
If you have a book for example about taking care of the elderly. You might consider a public speaking class to help you wade through all the steps of preparing a speech. Many non-fiction writers sell more books at speaking engagements than in book stores or online.
You’ve never written a children’s or young adult book. But you might gain insights into the mindset of these age groups for characters in your adult novel.
Classes to consider and other offerings to consider
Editing classes are always valuable. No one knows everything about editing, and no one is so good at writing they need no editing. You might want to discern if this is a grammarly kind of editing class or a content editing class. Pick the one that will benefit you the most.
Critique groups are wonderful opportunities to get input on your manuscript. If you are shy about sharing your work, you can take notes on those samples brought by others in the group and apply it to your own writing.
Panels: Agent, Publisher and Magazine panels give great insights into what they are looking for. Every conference I come away with a list of potential articles that never crossed my mind until an editor shares a need they have. I sometimes dust off something I wrote in the past that now just might have a place based on a publisher’s comment.
Workshops are usually a continuing education opportunity. Workshops are presented each day of the conference, and to get the most out of them you should attend every one. Skipping a day can leave you lost and confused. If the workshop is not what you expected, feel free to visit a different one that may be of more value. This is a good time to order the CD for the first day of the workshop you switched to. A side note: it is okay to change classes. No one will think you’re terrible. Finding your niche is encouraged.
Take full advantage
Unless you have an appointment be there on time. Take lots of notes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have time to linger after class, don’t shy away from getting clarification on anything you don’t understand.
Get CDs of classes you miss due to appointments or classes you want to attend that fall at the same time. Some people prefer to buy MP3s or CDs of the entire conference. If you are one who is disciplined to listen to CDs, often this is a great plan. If you never get around to listening, be honest with yourself and don’t waste your money. You might consider buying the whole set and sharing it with your writer’s group back home. This gives you incentive to listen a second time if you are not the carry-around-a-CD-everywhere-you-go kind of person. MP3s can be downloaded to any device. If you like to listen to music while you work out, listen to a conference class instead. (Just saying).
Value of General Sessions
Don’t skip general sessions. The keynote speakers always have wonderful insights about the writing world. And their encouragement may be what you need to step out of your comfort zone and be the writer you want to be.
Don’t be exhausted
Purpose to get the most out of all that is offered. But if you need to skip a class to regroup or take a nap, do it. Again order the CD for the class you missed. The conference is all about advancing your writing career and learning all you can. Get lots of rest each night, and don’t worry if you can’t wrap your mind around all the information you’ve heard. You can always review your notes later.
There will always be more workshops and classes than you have time to take so choose wisely. But most of all have fun!
What were your favorite workshops and classes at conferences you attended?
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