Friday, February 28, 2020

Six Things to Do When You Can’t Attend a Writing Conference

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Are you planning to attend a writers conference this year? Maybe not. Perhaps health issues, family dynamics, financial challenges, or a demanding work schedule have left you on the sidelines sighing over Facebook posts and conference invites. 

If you can’t attend a conference, you can still move forward in your writing life. Here are six suggestions:

1. Subscribe to an Industry Blog.
The internet is swimming with well-written, timely blogs for writers. A few of my favorites (in addition to The Write Conversation) are The Steve Laube Agency Blog, the Jane Freidman blog, and The Writing Life, by Terry Whalin. 

2. Subscribe to a Conference Blog
Many conferences have blogs associated with them, like the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference blog.Posts are written by industry experts and conference faculty, giving you the benefit of FREE expert advice and coaching.  

3. Listen to Writing Podcasts
If you prefer to learn by audio, tap into podcasts for writers. I listen to at least two writing podcasts a week and always come away with invaluable tips and information. The portability of podcasts enables me to listen on the go and while multi-tasking. Despite the fact that I often have to stop and scribble down some brilliant idea, these are a great way to fit learning into my busy life. Check out the Christian Publishing Show with Thomas Umstaddt, Jr. or Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl.  

4. Take a Course
When you exhaust the ocean of free information, consider paying a small fee to take a specific course. This can be especially helpful when you need targeted, in-depth information or training. My favorite go-to sites for well-written courses are The Christian Writers Institute and Serious Writer Academy.

5. Consider the every-other-year plan
If you can’t spend the time or money to attend a conference every year, don’t write it off completely. Attend every other year. In the off year, begin saving for the next conference. The cost of attending, spread over two years, is very manageable, especially if you begin tucking money away the day after the previous conference. 

To attend an eight-hundred dollar conference, you’ll need to save $7.69 a week. Most of us spend this amount mindlessly on lunch or coffee. Skip the latte, tuck the money away, and when conference season rolls around, you’ll be able to pay for it in cash. 

If you’d like to attend annually, you’ll need to save $15.39 a week. What can you cut out of your budget for the pleasure of attending a conference? I guarantee you, when you’re sitting in that auditorium, surrounded by writers and faculty who get you, you’ll never regret skipping that weekly Caramel Macchiato.

6. Purchase Audio Recordings
When you do attend a conference, purchase the audio recordings. During the off year, listen to a class a week. Last year I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and purchased the MP3s. Now, nine months later, I’m still working my way through the classes. For $80, I’ve had the privilege of listening to every single workshop at the conference, some of them multiple times.

Writers conferences are invaluable for helping us hone our craft, network with other writers, and find inspiration. It’s one of the best ways to move forward in our writing journey. If you can’t attend one, you don’t have to sit idly by, marking time until you can. Take one of the steps I’ve recommended—right now. As you do, you’ll fan the flames of your writing fire and prepare yourself for the opportunities the Lord will bring your way.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do on non-conference years to keep growing as a writer? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.


Lori Hatcher loves to teach, train, and encourage writers by sharing what others have generously shared with her. Connect with her this spring at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference, where she’ll serve on faculty as the conference Chaplain, and at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Lori is the author of several devotional books including  Refresh Your Faith – Uncommon Devotions from Every Book of the Bible (Our Daily Bread Publishing) and Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women , the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year. The editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine, she’s also a blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on FacebookTwitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

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