Friday, May 25, 2018

3 Steps to Advance your Writing Career When You Can't Attend a Conference

By Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

If you’ve been a part of the writing community for long, you know the value of attending a writers conference. Writer after writer sings their praises, testifying that if they hadn’t attended a writers conference, they’d have never gotten their first book contract, met their agent, or networked with someone who knew someone who knew someone who changed their writing life forever. 

But some years, it isn’t possible to go. Finances, health, or family responsibilities find you on the outside looking in. Because you can’t attend, you assume you must spin your writing wheels until next year’s conference, where all the big breaks await you.

I encourage you to think again. While writers conferences are valuable for advancing your writing career, they’re not the only way to move forward. If this is a non-conference year for you, here are three steps you can take to overcome writers inertia and get moving again.

1. Subscribe to a new writing blog. 
The amount of knowledge available on the internet is mindboggling. Writers blogs (like this one)gather the wisdom of many of the same industry professionals you’d meet at a writers conference and share it – for FREE. Best of all, you don’t have to scramble to take notes, sit through hour-long classes, or miss a week of work to access the information. Just subscribe and watch as the information magically appears in your Inbox every day.

Since I’m assuming you’ve already subscribed to The Write Conversation, may I suggest a few more of my favorites? I love The Steve Laube blog(probably because my agent, Bob Hostetler, regularly shares his wit and wisdom there), Grammar Girl, and Cec Murphy’s Writer to Writer. Subscribing to a fresh writers blog keeps new streams of information flowing and exposes you to the most current literary and publishing trends.

2. Purchase The Christian Writers Market Guide2018and start submitting. 
If you write devotions, you’ll find a whole section of publications seeking new devotional material. If you love crafting stories for children, turn to page 215, where you’ll find nine pages of magazines and blogs seeking your submissions. 

You don’t have to attend a writers conference to pitch your work to industry professionals. Polish your piece, review the submission guides, craft a query letter, and submit to a publications listed in the market guide. Then repeat – every week until you receive your first acceptance letter. Once that happens, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career as a published writer.

3. Join an in-person or online critique group.
Left alone, we are limited by our incomplete knowledge and experience. Without others to sharpen our skills and goad us on to better writing, we remain hamstrung. If we surround ourselves with other writers committed to improvement and excellence, however, we grow. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that we need each other to become our best selves – and our best writing selves.

For three years, I’ve been a member of Word Weavers, International.  Dedicated to community, critique, and conference, WWI networks writers, provides monthly critique opportunities, and connects us with local conferences. Those who live in an area without a group are encouraged to either begin a chapter or join an online critique group. 

If joining Word Weavers isn’t possible, seek opportunities to meet with and encourage other writers. Pray and ask God to connect you with one like-minded writer with whom you can share critiques. Don’t write alone.

If this is a non-conference year for you, determine to do whatever it takes to stay motivated, keep writing, and make forward progress in your quest to become a writer. It will take effort, but if you implement just one of the steps I’ve listed above, 2018 can be your best writing year yet.

Now it’s your turn. What’s one thing you’ve done to move your writing career forward? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.



  1. Great article Ms. Lori. The key is to keep moving forward ma'am. There are lots of opportunities out there. You are so encouraging. Thank You ma'am. God's blessings...

    1. Jim,
      I've heard it said that God can't guide our steps if we aren't moving. So move we must, with his guidance. Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. Lori, thanks for this article and the great reminder that every writer has opportunities--whether you are at a conference or not. The key is not thinking about or reading about it--but actively taking action and doing something about it.

    Straight Talk From the Editor

    1. You're absolutely right, Terry. While we should never stop learning, there comes a point when we need to start applying what we've learned. Thanks for chiming in today, and thanks also for including a link to your blog. I've learned much from your wisdom over the years. Many thanks.

  3. Lori, Thanks for sharing such good information and encouragement!

  4. Thanks for this! I was able to attend my first writer's conference this year and shortly before that discovered this blog - both great helps! However, our current life circumstances - caring for my mother-in-law in our home - make further traveling iffy. I will be looking up some of these other sources you mentioned.

    1. Good for you for attending that often-scary first conference. It's been my experience that if I review my notes from a conference closely, I have enough teaching to keep me busy for quite a while. I trust you'll find this true as well. Many conferences also record their sessions and offer them relatively inexpensively. The material from those classes can provide months of continuing education. God bless you for honoring your mother-in-love by caring her her. I'm praying God will pour out his strength and love on you in the days ahead.

  5. Lori, this is good advice. I've so felt like I'm spinning my wheels. I'm physically and financially challenged at this moment. My novel has been through two diagnostic edits and needs the final deep edit to bring it to finish. Everywhere I read it tells me to have the manuscript perfect before submitting...roll eyes here. So, I'm just waiting and praying, and spinning my wheels. LOL But I have been looking as you suggest for fresh blogs and newsletters, etc. that will help. And as one post on here said 'build relationships'. I'm building my marketing, blog, website, and I trust God will point me in the right direction. I'm just prayerful of two things: I'm ready when it happens, and it will be soon. Wink wink.

    1. Donevy,
      Good for you for doing everything you can to make your manuscript excellent. And for wisely recognizing that an excellent story isn't enough to be successful as an author. You have to have platform and knowledge about marketing. I don't think you're spinning your wheels at all. Sounds like you're preparing for your book contract so that when you get it, you'll be ready. And sweat equity is the most valuable resource a writer has. (That and prayer). I'll join you as you watch, wait, work, and pray.