Thursday, January 24, 2013

The dilemma: Which writers' conferences to attend

Since I began writing professionally, I've been attending writers' conferences as often as I can. "Writer's Digest" offered the first one I ever attended, and I remember meeting others who were as passionate about writing as I am. I loved it and signed up for as many gatherings as I could afford. I enjoy the local ones because there's less travel time and expense, there are opportunities to meet writers from your area, and the speakers are often local as well.

The national conferences are fantastic because of their scope. People from around the country, who have similar goals, that is, improving their writing skills and getting stories and books published, attend. The National Federation of Press Women conferences I've attended in Richmond, Virginia and Chicago have helped me advance my career and added to my knowledge of the industry, besides adding new friends to my address book. I hope to attend this year's NFPW conference in Salt Lake City Aug. 22-24. Another conference I plan to attend is the Romance Writers of America one in Atlanta July 17-20. It is exciting to meet avid writers and have their enthusiasm permeate the conference. The Writers Digest East Conference is in New York April 5-7.

The only drawback to these national conferences is the expense. So why go?
* Meet other writers
* Meet editors and agents
* Advance your career
* Learn more about the industry
* Learn more about your craft

Enough said.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ten reasons why you should enter contests

Entering contests is often a stressful endeavor. By the time you read the rules, go through your body of work, get the entry materials and complete all the necessary details, you may decide it's not worth your time. But that old adage, "You can't win if you don't enter," is absolutely true.

How is entering contest worth it? Let's count the ways:

1) You may have the perfect piece to enter.
2) You're proud of what you've written, photographed, edited, designed or completed.

3) You can determine how you measure up to others in your field.
4) You will meet deadlines.
5) Prizes range from a certificate or free book to a gift card to actual cash.
6) Once you gather everything together and send it off, you know you've  
    accomplished something.
7) Few contests prohibit people from entering again and again.
8) Some contests offer critiques.
9) At banquets where prizes are awarded, you meet others in your field.
10) You will improve your skills or at least learn something just by going through the process.

I've entered photography contests and writing contests, naming contests and word contests. I have won some, nearly won some and lost many, but the process helped me:
1) Develop organizational skills
2) Pay attention to details
3) Improve concentration
4) Manage time
5) Gain confidence

I say, go for it. Enter contests. You will come out a winner whether you get a prize or not.