A few weeks ago I was privileged to serve on faculty at the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference. Being there was like a cool drink of water on a sweltering day. I don’t always get to attend a writers conference every year, and I don’t always realize how much I miss being immersed in the writing community.
Maybe we believe we don’t deserve to attend conferences focused on things we are passionate about. Can I attend a writing conference if I haven’t done enough writing in the past year? (That has stopped me more than once.) Can I attend one focused on speaking if I didn’t earn enough from my speaking gigs to justify it?
Don’t fall for the legitimacy limitation. I’m here to encourage you to attend a conference no matter how quirky your passion, because at conferences you will:
Find your tribe—Sometimes those you love or live near just don’t get why you care about writing or running or poetry or Pinterest. But somewhere there’s a conference-load of people who do. And when you find them, it’s heaven. For instance:
- My friend Heike’s photography conferences allow her to join others who live life constantly framing the picture.
- For Edie there are steampunk festivals to find friends stepping into the 19th century with style.
- Worship music conferences let David talk music all day long with people excited about it as he is.
- Cathy’s doll conference means being around folks who get why she spends money on them.
- I met new friends at St. Davids, friends who understand the rigors, the rejection and the rewards of writing.
Attend your passion conference and you will feel you’ve come home.
Expand your knowledge—When I had class hours at the conference when I wasn’t teaching, I tried to slip into a class with another faculty member. I learned something important from each and every one. There is always more to learn no matter how skilled you are in your field of interest.
Fuel your imagination—Conferences are sort of a giant brainstorming session. The discussion all around you sparks your creativity. Possibilities open up for a new way to fund or focus on or feature your passion in your daily life. Your mind takes in new ideas, builds on the ideas of others, all of which may . . .
Kickstart your productivity—Being at a writers conference makes me eager to write. Those new ideas are percolating. Plus, I see what others are doing, the success they’re finding, and I want to be more committed to my craft so I reap the results. And hopefully I’ve learned some ways to make that happen.
Increase your confidence—Hanging out with people who do what you do, and love what you love, helps you to not feel so strange, so much like an alien in the “normal” world. You gain the skills and knowledge to speak up. You get the encouragement to pursue your passion.
So take those 5 reasons as the license to book your own conference trip. Yes, they cost money. Figure out the way to make the investment. Look for scholarships. Barter your time as a volunteer at the event for reduced admission. Ask for the registration as Christmas or birthday presents (my friend Lisa has done that to get herself to writing conferences she couldn’t afford). Start a GoFundMe page. Do what it takes to make it happen. Because, and here’s a bonus sixth reason, it will bring you joy.
You are uniquely created, and not everyone thinks or dreams or enjoys as you do. But somewhere people are gathering to celebrate what you love. Will you join the party?