Most writers know that writing is a solitary activity. On the one hand, when I write I need as few distractions as possible to get my thoughts in order, to hear the muse speak to me, and to block obstacles to creativity. (Well, maybe a little music.) On the other hand, I also need to participate in activities that will stimulate me, enhance my knowledge of my chosen field, and broaden my experience as a writer. That’s why I find occasionally attending workshops, conferences and participating in book festivals so stimulating. I get to network with other writers, professional and non-professional, exchange information, get feedback, and learn ways of marketing, and in addition, sell books if I’m lucky.
Retreats – provide ideal places to write. Poets and Writers list retreats, also Artists and Writers Colonies by Gail Hellund Bowler list retreats, residences and respites for the creative mind. I haven’t attended one yet but I have friends who have and their response has been encouraging.
Workshops and Seminars – learn ways to improve ones writing and expand knowledge as well as get answers to writing questions and maybe get feedback on writing projects. I facilitate a creative writing class at my local senior center and have taken classes in mystery writing and creative non-fiction at the community college in my area.
Book Festivals – See what others are doing to promote their books, participate in panel discussions and maybe get to recite a poem or two. Most importantly, meet the public as well as network with other authors. I recommend new authors attend at least one book festival. You might start out by attending one, not as a vendor but as part of the public. I’ve been a vendor at several book festivals; most recently, the Leimert Park Book Festival in L.A. Some may be rather expensive such as the L.A. Times Book Festival; however, going in with a few other authors can cut down on the expense.
Conferences – Network with other professionals and non-professionals. Learn current trends. Experience other genres. A few years ago I attended the AWP Associated Writers Program held in Vancouver. It was fantastic. I took in as many workshops and panel discussions in all genres as I could. I have also been to the Black Writers Online Reunion and Conference. There I had part of my manuscript read and received vital feedback. I learned tips on writing query letters, promoting and marketing my work.
Going to writers and artists’ retreats, attending workshops and seminars, participating in book festivals, and/or attending conferences can provide encouragement to a new writer and reenergize an experienced one.