Sunday, May 16, 2021

Thoughts on Writing Classes at a Conference

by Tammy Karasek @TickledPinkTam

Writing conferences are still different for 2021. Many have chosen to stay with a virtual conference again this year, while others are going to be in person. Being an extrovert, I’ve enjoyed going to conferences and long for the day when those around the country can open their real doors once more instead of the Zoom link. At least that Zoom link kept us working on our craft and seeing each other’s faces since we couldn’t gather together. 

Feeling nostalgic for those in-person conferences, I pulled out my notebook of notes I’ve taken over the years. I went through page by page to see what kept me madly scraping my pen across the paper. On some of the notes, I was excited to see where the lesson taught was one I’ve put into practice or at least now understood. Yet others I noticed I must not have caught on as I saw I had repeated a class at another venue.

Which got me to thinking. 

I’ve heard comments made that many conferences are the same classes and teachers over and over. Or the classes are the same but different teachers are teaching them. Both statements are possibly true. I noticed I’d taken a few classes that were the same, but different teachers. I noticed something else—some same-titled classes by different teachers had more notes than the other. And not necessarily did the first class have more notes than subsequent classes after it.

It brought me to the following:
  • You attend a class and you understand the concept, or think you do. Once home, you work on your WIP. Then you get stuck or frustrated that the piece is not working with the concept you’re trying to implement. You thought you understood it, but it’s not coming together. You consider it a fail – you can’t do it. It must be you.
  • You attend another class on the same subject with skepticism that you’ll be able to do it, but you want to try again. But this time, the different teacher shares the same concept but in a different selection and composition of words. A light bulb moment happens and you get it. 
Which could be two things:
  • In the first class, it was a very new concept to you and you got lost fast and couldn’t keep up with the lecture.
  • You are now farther along in your writing. Concepts and lingo make more sense to you and you’re able to keep the pace with the instructions. 
I’d like to offer a suggestion to you as you decide which writing conference you will attend this year as well as which classes you will take. Think about where you are in your writing. What parts are still not solid for you? Do you have an issue with Plotting, Hooks, and Character Arcs? What about the next step in the process like writing the Premise, Synopsis or Proposal? Even if you have taken a class in this subject already, maybe it’s time for a same class, different teacher selection at the conference. The new teacher may have a different approach or explanation of the concept and will give you the light-bulb moment you need to propel your writing further down the path. 

What about you? Have you taken a class of the same description and found yourself thinking—ah, now I get it? Please share in the comments below, we’d love to hear about it.


You’ll find Tammy using humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. She’s gone from down and defeated from a past filled with bullying and criticism from family to living a Tickled Pink life as she believes there is always a giggle wanting to come out! All because of HIM.

She’s the Social Media Coordinator for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. President of ACFW Upstate SC, Past-President and current member of Word Weavers Upstate SC and Past-President of Cross N Pens Writers Group. She’s a member of My Book Therapy/Novel Academy. A writing team member for The Write Conversation, contributor for the Learn How to Write a Novel Blog and others. Published in the Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments.

She’s married to her college sweetheart Larry, a mom to their grown daughter, Kristen and excited to add a son-in-law in 2021. Born and raised in Ohio, she now lives in South Carolina. Connect with Tammy at HTTPS://TAMMYKARASEK.COM.


  1. I've been on both sides of this, Tammy. When I teach, I try to offer "lightbulb" moments, but we can't be the perfect teacher for everyone. And that's why your post is so very apropos!

  2. So very true. I learn more by repeating a class with a different speaker each time.

    1. Yes! We never know when the concept will “click” for us!

  3. Absolutely true, Tammy. Teacher hat: the more we teach it, the more we learn and are able to respond with more experiences & depth. As a student, we're always at a different place on our journey each time through & can ask better questions - helping ourselves & others in doing so.
    Great post. Jay in SC

    1. Thanks for sharing that Jay, great perspective!

  4. I enjoy attending writing conferences, whether in person or virtual. There is always something to learn. Some conferences are better than others. I truly enjoy the new friendships and contacts made at writing conferences. :-)

    1. Yes! There’s always something to learn. And I LOVE meeting all the new friends!!!

  5. Great information, Tammy. As I mature in writing, I find I have more "hooks" to hang concepts on, and I get more out of craft books and conference classes.

    My husband and I will be attending a conference in person soon -- the first one in over a year -- and we're excited to be getting back in the game.

    1. I love that - “more hooks to hang concepts on!” I hope the conference you mention is Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference! If so, I’ll be there and hope to meet you!

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  7. Thank you Tammy! I was looking over the schedule for the BRMCWC and some of those questions came up.

  8. My first year I took two classes on article writing because they were next door to each other and being new I still wasn’t sure which classes to take and I couldn’t get lost! I came to BRMCWC to gain knowledge in fiction. Yet here I was. Both faculty had great expertise, their teaching style similar but they brought their own life experiences and approach. I had a story idea and returned home. I admit I didn’t look for submission guidelines. I hadn’t learned that concept. I wrote facts I knew for my idea; interviewed people; took photos; edited and then wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper attaching the article and photo. I quickly received an email response that they wanted to run the story and they asked if I would take assigned feature stories which I accepted for about a year. And was paid.

    It wasn’t fiction but it was a great experience. I met/interviewed people in the community; researched topics like cancer and heart disease. And I enjoyed being able to share people’s stories.

    Even if you go through the wrong door chances are you will learn something, meet someone you otherwise would have missed or written something unexpected.

    Can’t wait to see what God has for us at BRMCWC this year.

    Daphne Woodall

    1. That’s exciting! And what did BRMCWC bring for you this year, Daphne?