A recent invite to the annual Writer’s Conference here on Cape Cod ignited the age-old debate: what is the benefit of paying to go talk about writing when you could save your cash and write?
I think it was Jonathan Edwards who said “every natural man flatters himself by what he intends to do.” One of my minister friends never finishes a sermon due to the bad habit of continually ‘going down rabbit trails’ while speaking, thus he never gets to the point or ends on time. He says everything but what God gave him to say. (That’s perhaps another post for another day.)
Skipping to the crux of the matter, I think my personal fear is based in the knowledge that I could spend a lot of time around the activity of writing and trick myself into thinking I’ve accomplished something. If I recall correctly, that’s termed Delaying Activity, and it’s not good.
Now I understand we all do it to some degree or another, but at some point it’s time to grow up. Just like your kids, once is cute, twice is understandable, third time’s a spanking. I’m also not saying workshops aren’t helpful; intelligent instruction and feedback are critical to developing craft. I’m saying that at some point after developing a base knowledge, the surest route to improvement is work. Writing is lonely, difficult work: mining your imagination, honing your word-skill, developing characters and story lines… Like a horse to water thing, no one can do that for you.
I don’t begrudge anyone attending and there might be a tremendous amount to solid input that week, but when the smoke has cleared, writers still need to sit down and write.
7 Replies to “Shoot them bunnies.”
I’ve sworn off conferences. Which is probably easier since I’ve never been to one. But every time I’ve looked at them it appears to be somewhat of a boondoggle.
That’s a big bunny.
I’ve been guilty the last several months of immersing myself in all things writerly except for writing. I think it’s fine to a point (everyone needs a break) but it had gotten to the point of procrastination, so I had to give myself a swift kick.
Thanks, both of you.
I’m going into ‘swift-kick’ mode myself to finish Shift Tense.
Yes, I have to agree. Conferences are a lot of money. And what if the agents or editors attending aren’t interested in your work? Seems like a lot of money to throw at a gamble. Even if you do your homework, there’s no guarantees of anything because of the unpredictable nature of human beings. I haven’t been to one in ten years and have no plans of attending any in the future. I’d have to get another part time job to pay for it.
I’ve been to some writers conferences that inspired me… caused me to go to my room and write. And I’ve been to some that left me feeling like you’re feeling.
“caused me to go to my room and write.”
Those are the kinds of conferences I want to attend. I just wish I knew which ones they were.