A good writing conference energizes and inspires as well as providing new information, or at least old information in a fresh way. Chicago Writers Conference, which wrapped up today, was a great writing conference. Speakers were candid, generous and actually concerned, it seemed, with sharing information rather than gratifying their own egos. While shattering dreams of the NYT best seller’s list or being able to make a career of writing, they were highly respectful of writers, appreciative of the role of publication in what writers do, and ultimately encouraging: if you don’t try, it won’t happen. Because the speakers were friendly, approachable and displayed a sense of humor, there was a wonderful sense of camaraderie among the attendees, and I met a lot of people, some of whom I know I will stay in touch with. I’ve always believed writing is a collaborative effort–my work is always better for having been workshopped and edited–and there was an emphasis at this conference on how writers can help each other through collaborations–even just liking each other on social media, sharing reviews, networking. Great advice from Ben Tanzer which I’d like to summarize here:
Love What You Do
Love Your Work (If you don’t, who will? Not everyone will, but some will, and some will love it as much as you do.)
Write a lot
Saturate (your publicity, web-presence, visibility among your audiences)
And so, while there was an emphasis on building relationships through social media, I have to say that what most inspired me were the people, both writers and attendees, and nothing will replace the one-on-one interactions the conversations that can happen at a conference this good, this great. Thanks to the Chicago Writers Association, and particularly to Mare Swallow for making it happen.