Friday, April 7, 2017

A Tongue-in-Cheek Look at How Writing Conferences May Have Started

by Bruce Brady

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (or maybe just down the lane), Mary, an aspiring novelist, sat down to lunch with friends. There was Nancy, a nonfiction author, and Jane, a blogger.

“Why don’t we get together once a month and share what we’re learning? I think this would help us improve our craft, increasing the chances of reaching our goals.” Nancy smiled.

“That’s a great idea!” Jane’s eyes sparkled.

“Yes. We can help each other become rich and famous,” Mary said.

And so, they met. Sometimes for lunch, other times for breakfast. But they always shared whatever they’d learned between meetings.

Amazing results were achieved after only a few meetings. Not only were they better scribes, but their accomplishments far exceeded expectations. Mary, whose first novel was published with limited success, finished her second novel, which quickly became a bestseller, and landed her a lucrative contract for three more. Nancy’s treatise on the care of trees and wooded plants was a big hit with arborists and botanists all over the world. And Jane’s blog for the body, mind, and soul attracted many companies, providing substantial advertising revenue.

“The Lord has been very generous to us. How can we thank Him?” ‘Nancy looked to the other ladies.

“We could give more to charity.” Mary wasn’t sure what to do, but wanted to contribute to the conversation.

“I know.” Jane’s eyes widened. “Let’s thank the Lord, and ask Him what to do.”

After praying, they each felt led to share what they had learned with new and aspiring writers. Jane found a place where they could meet monthly. Nancy determined the best meeting time, then developed guidelines and procedures. Mary invited the few novices they knew, and asked them to invite others who might be interested.

Yes, they were nervous about public speaking, and teaching others when they were relatively new themselves. But, helping others was the appropriate thing to do.

This concern for others led them to study books, podcasts, online videos, all the quality instructional materials they could find, to provide the best possible training.

The first, and subsequent meetings were successful. The newbies learned a lot, their work showed it. A couple of them obtained publishing contracts. Others saw increased blog traffic.  Plus, Mary, Nancy, and Jane became more proficient.

“Since this has worked out so well, let’s find a place where we can invite other successful wordsmiths to come together and enlighten those less experienced.” The corners of Nancy’s lips reached for her ears.

“We could include screenwriters, speakers, and others who can broaden our educations.” Mary was being Mary, her mind coloring outside the lines.

“We could even invite agents and publishers to explain the ins and outs of the publishing world, and maybe take time to look at the attendees’ work.” Jane added.

This meeting was so successful that conferees, instructors, agents, and publishers encouraged the ladies to have another the following year. They did. And it grew in numbers and quality. A few faculty thought it would be good to have these meetings where they lived. They invited the three ladies, and other teachers, to coach at their meetings.

Thus, the writers conference was born.

So, why are conferences a big deal? Let’s explore a few of the less talked about reasons.

Friendships – One of the most important reasons to attend conferences is to start and grow friendships with students and industry professionals. Many conferences provide social time where conferees and industry professionals get to know one another without the pressure of formal situations. Some of my friends have told me they obtained work because writers they met at conferences became editors and publishers.

Focused Writing Time – Many of us crave writing time. Although conference schedules offer many activities, we can choose to find quiet, inspirational places to pen our thoughts, away from the demanding routines of work and home. I’ve known authors who’ve finished and submitted manuscripts at conferences.

Fiction Classes – Wait! I don’t need fiction. I write nonfiction. I’m a blogger. Public speaking is my forte. Fiction is the art of telling a tale that evokes emotion. It transports readers to imaginary places where the world’s pressures melt away—if just for a little while. It allows us to share opinions and facts otherwise difficult to express. Incorporating storytelling elements in nonfiction, engages the senses, deepens reader interest, and promotes greater retention.

Exploration of Other Genres – At my first conference, I learned the quickest way to success, and earning a living was producing articles for periodicals. Thus, I explored nonfiction. And have written many articles and devotions since. Conferences are great venues for exploring other forms of communication. We may think we’re novelists, only to find we’re actually bloggers, speakers, or editors.

Why are #writing conferences such an important part of being a writer? @BDBrady007 (Click to Tweet)

A tongue-in-cheek look at how #writing conferences may have started - @BDBrady007 (Click to Tweet)

Bruce Brady is an author, writer and playwright. His work has appeared in Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family,, and on stage. Currently, Bruce is working on a Young Adult Novel about a boy who must deal with the death of his dad, being bullied, and helping his mom through her grief. His first five pages took third place in the ACFW South Carolina Chapter’s “First Five Pages” contest.When he’s not writing, Bruce spends time learning from and helping other writers. He serves as Mentor of Word Weavers International’s Online Chapter, and as a member of Cross ‘N’ Pens, The Writer’s Plot, ACFW’s National and South Carolina Chapters.


  1. Replies
    1. You're Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. See you soon.

  2. The first time I ever stepped out of my comfort zone and traveled alone was for a writers conference. Just as you stated in this article, it's a fabulous place to learn more about the craft of writing, meet new friends, and return home energized.

    1. I'm glad you had a similar experience to mine. keep on writing.

  3. Bruce, great tongue-in-cheek story of how writers' conferences got started. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Richard. I'm sorry I'll not see you at Blue Ridge this year. I'll miss everyone. I know you'll bless those in your classes, and those you meet.

  4. You're right, Bruce, writers conferences are a game changer in so many ways. One of thre best investments a writer can make in his/her career.

    1. Thank you, Lori. Sorry I'll not see you at Blue Ridge. Have a great conference. See you next year. God bless.