We are deep into summer now and this week it seems like everyone is going on vacation. Not only that but so many of the romance writers I know are taking off to San Antonio for the annual Romance Writers of America Conference. The RWA conference was the first writing conference I ever attended. Actually it was one of the first RWA national conferences ever, more than 30 years ago. It was where I actually started learning about writing for someone other than myself and my family and friends. The conference has grown considerably since those first days aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Instead of hundreds of attendees, these days there are thousands. It’s still a great event and I’ll miss seeing old friends and getting the latest scoop on romance writing.
While I’d have loved to go this year, I’ve also discovered the joys of conferences that are almost as small as that first one I attended. If you’re regretting missing the RWA national, or suffering from the summertime blues if you aren't going on vacation, don’t let it get you down. Look around for local or nearby opportunities to get support for your writing or to learn more about the craft without having to spend as much money.1. Check out local, smaller conferences. Watch for local or regional writing groups that hold weekend conferences. I’m lucky enough to live in Colorado where we have a thriving group of writers. Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers hold an annual conference that always brings in some big national names as well as presenting programs that feature local big name authors. But there are many romance groups that do the same in the Midwest, the Northwest, the East and Southeast. I’ve attended some of them and always come away filled with new information and pleased with the ability to attend sessions on craft or writing techniques.
2. Check for one day writing sessions offered by local groups or libraries. Our Denver area romance writing groups both hold one day “mini” conferences where they concentrate on one or two writing issues, but they also bring in agents and editors for pitch sessions. They are easy to afford and a good way to refresh the writing spirit.
3. Go outside your genre and look at different writing groups and see what they offer. For instance, Mystery Writers of America present one day sessions all around the country that are well worth the money and the time.
4. Watch for smaller fan conferences. Left Coast Crime has become one of my favorite smaller conferences because it gives writers and readers a chance to connect. The panel sessions are filled with authors who not only talk about their latest books but also what is happening in the publishing world. For the past few years I’ve also attended RomCon, a romance fan convention that is always lots of fun. This year it included “university” sessions on the writing craft. I had the opportunity to present my session on creating characters.
5. Make your own mini conference with online classes. If you aren’t a fan of big groups, don’t forget there is a whole online world out there that can help you learn about writing and can also introduce you to fellow writers. I’ve made many friends who were fellow classmates online and now I am meeting many fledgling writers as I teach classes for Savvy authors and other writing groups.
6. But if you’re still feeling like you’re missing out because you won’t be in San Antonio with all those other romance writers this week, try what our local RWA group is doing. Have a group over to brainstorm. At least it can give you the opportunity to hang out with other writers. And it might get you inspired to get back to work.
So don't let those summertime blues get you down. While you might not be able to get away this week, you can always find something else coming up that you can plan for. And it might just open up some new opportunities as well.