Monday, February 1, 2016

5 Reasons Why Teens Should Attend a Writing Conference

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It's hard to believe that last fall, at twenty-one-years-old, I attended my tenth writing conference.
I was sixteen when I attended my first {you can read about that experience here}. It was at this conference that I met the future publisher for Purple Moon, as well as lifelong writer friends (including Author Katy Kauffman, whose first book was published within a month of mine).

With my publisher, Eddie Jones -- 19-years-old
With author and writing friend, Katy Kauffman -- 16-years-old

Throughout the years, I've continued to make new writer friends at conferences, grown in my craft immensely, met my literary agents, and landed an internship with Hartline Literary Agency -- all thanks to these writing conferences. 
Is it absolutely vital that an aspiring author attend a conference? Of course not. It is possible to land an agent/publisher without attending one. 

However, conferences do increase your chances of signing with a literary agent. Not only that, but you have the chance to make face-to-face connections. It's impossible to express just how valuable these conferences are if you have not been to one before.

And now that the conference season is approaching, I've decided to reflect on the reasons why I'm grateful I attended conferences as a teen. 

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should, too:

1. Conferences provide the opportunity to learn about the industry and craft.

Agents are searching for writers who are not only familiar with the industry, but those who are willing to invest in their writing craft as well. They are not searching for the writer who has the "I'm already a perfect writer" attitude. Truth is: Every writer--no matter how experienced or well-read--has room to grow. 

2. Relationships are key in this industry.

Conferences provide the opportunity to network with other writers and professionals. Sure, you can network on social media. But on-screen networking does not offer the same personalization that face-to-face connections provide. You never know--the friend you make that first year at a conference could become your literary agent or publisher a few years down the road!   

3. You'll leave inspired.

Often, writing can drain us of inspiration. The well runs out at times--especially when we feel as though we're in this career on our own. We need to surround ourselves with writers every now and then. People who can help brainstorm with us, those who might understand what we're going through. And we need to attend classes that remind us of the reasons why we love the power of words. Trust me: Your fingers will be itching to create through the keyboard by the end of a conference!

4. Conferences give you an "insider" look on the writing career. 

As an aspiring author, it's easy to hold assumptions that being an author is a glamorous career. But by attending a conference, you'll view the industry as it is: The good, the bad, and the ugly. This is especially helpful for teens, because it will give you the chance to gain better insight as to whether or not you should pursue this vocation. 

5. Conferences provide the opportunity to enter into contests. 

Most writing conferences hold writing contests that the attendees can enter. These contests provide the perfect opportunity for aspiring authors to gain credentials, seek input on their novel by industry professionals, and potentially have their work viewed by an agent and/or publisher. Even if you do not have a completed book, you can still enter contests for a short story, novella, devotion, article, essay, etc. If you receive awards as a teen, think about how good that will look on your writing resume!

20-years-old -- When Purple Moon received a 2014 Selah Award in YA Fiction & First Novel

At every conference I've attended -- even the small ones -- I've left with an immense amount of information, inspiration, creativity, business cards, and notes. (And empty coffee cups, of course. ;)

Writing, of course, is a solitude career. These conferences give writers the chance to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who are headed along the same path. I'm reminded of the scripture Proverbs 27:17 {NIV}, which states: 

"As iron sharpens iron, so people can improve each other."

Be aware, though, that as a teen, you will probably stand out because of your age. (Unless there is a teen track, of course.) But don't allow that to keep you from taking your writing journey seriously. Besides, most adults are very supportive and encouraging of teen writers. =) 

Tweet: 5 Reasons Why Teens Should Attend a Writing Conference @tessaemilyhall #teenwriters #amwriting

Have you attended a writing conference? If not, are you interested in attending one?

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  1. Wow, ten conferences? That's a lot :D. I've always wanted to go to a writer's conference, but it has never worked out for me to go to one (yet, anyways). Hopefully I'll find a good one near Nebraska soon, I think it would be so fun (and helpful) to attend one!

    1. Yes, they are very fun! If you don't have a manuscript to pitch, I'd advise waiting to attend a big conference until you do. There are, however, several smaller conferences--including Christian ones--that last about 2 days. (Yes, agents and publishers go to these as well!)



    2. Oh, really? Do you happen to know the names of any of these conferences?

  2. I wish I could. I think there is one Christian writers conference in the whole of Australia though. And I can't really afford it.

    1. That's one reason why my parents were hesitant to take me to the first conference--it wasn't exactly inexpensive. There are, however, several small conferences that last 2 - 3 days. Maybe you could find one in Australia? Even if it's not Christian, I'm sure it could possibly help you grow more as a writer. =)

      If you can't find any, no worries! As I mentioned in this post, not every writer finds a literary agent or publisher through a conference. Plus, there several books and blogs that teach on the writing craft.

      Thanks for commenting!



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