Monday, April 19, 2010

Do You Workshop? A Writer Conference/Workshop Round-up

A good friend of mine is a fiction writer who is always attending this conference or that workshop. I’ve listened to her experiences enviously: she always seems to come away from these gathering enriched, refreshed and excited to continue with her work. Despite my envy, somehow it never really occurred to me to seek out conferences and workshops for freelancers or non-fiction writers. But after reading this post at the Writer Abroad blog, I decided that it was time to take action.

Even a cursory search on the web revealed scores of writer conferences all over the world for journalists and non-fiction writers. Though I have yet to attend a conference or workshop, from everything I’ve read, it’s clear that these gatherings can be especially valuable for expat freelancers. Here’s why:

1. Conferences provide opportunities to meet editors and agents. Many conferences have panels featuring editors and agents who discuss the latest trends and news in the publishing industry as well as describe the kind of articles and books for which they’re searching. Afterwards, writers have the opportunity to meet the panelists (in some instances, in an organized fashion) and get their ideas heard and names known. This is a special boon for us expat freelancers, whose far-flung life means we can’t do a lot of face-to-face networking with many of the editors for whom we write. (I don’t know about you, but it’s complicated for me to even schedule a phone call! But that’s mostly the kids’ fault.)

2. Conferences/workshops offer opportunities to meet other writers. It’s so easy to make connections with writers online that sometimes we may disregard the need to meet writers in real life. I know I’m guilty of this. But…call me crazy…seeing an avatar or photo of someone online just isn’t the same as meeting someone in the flesh. Conferences /workshops strike me as a great thrust into real life – and we can meet all kind of writers that maybe would have flown under our radar online. You never know where connections with other writers will lead you.

3. Conferences/workshops can introduce you to new genres and markets. I’m always bitching about the difficulty of finding new Anglophone markets/magazines as an expat. Conferences often offer seminars and sessions across all fields and genres and a variety of magazine editors attend. This makes for a great opportunity to develop new angles and interests for your writing.

If you’re concerned that the cost of travel might be an obstacle, consider this: your travel expenses, registration fees, and a few other related expenses are (most likely) tax-deductible! That’s a nice little perk that you can't ignore.

So, are you with me? Here are links to 12 conferences/workshops that take place all around the world. And as a bonus, here's an amusing (and helpful) link that offers seven ways to make the most of a conference.

If you can recommend any other good conferences for freelancers or non-fiction writers, please feel free to share!

Workshops & Conferences for Non-Fiction

1. The Paris Writers Workshop This 5-day workshop in Paris appears to be open to writers of all levels who have the requisite manuscript. Workshop sizes are limited 15 participants so register early!

2. The Geneva Writers' Group Conference In addition to an annual conference, the Geneva Writers' Group offers Saturday workshops for a variety of kinds of writing (including personal essay, opinion, travel, etc.) on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

3. Abroad Writers Conference Has multiple conferences a year, each in a different location in the world. Upcoming conferences/workshops are in France, Italy, Scotland and India.

4. Doha Writers Workshop Offers help to writers of all experience levels in Qatar.

5. San Miguel Writers Workshops Though at first glance this workshop (in Mexico) seems to be all fiction, it isn't. They offer workshops for a variety non-fiction writing, including memoir, travel, personal essays, and even blogging!

6. The International Writers' Workshop This workshop takes place in Ghana. Its non-fiction compenent mainly focuses on travel and memoirs.

Conferences & Workshops for Freelancers

7. Surrey International Writers Conference This Canadian conference can benefit writers of all stripes, fiction, non-fiction, freelance, poets. The conference provides an opportunity to schedule one-on-one meetings with agents, editors, and other professional writers.

8. American Society of Journalists and Authors Writers Conference You have to be a member of ASJA to attend this intense NYC conference. To be apply to be a member, you must submit 6 articles of 1,000 words or more that have been published in major national magazines. If you are book-writer, you must have written at least two non-fiction books, or have written one and are under contract to write another. A committee will notify you if you have been accepted. A conference to aspire to, I guess!

9. Writers and Editors: One-on-One To attend this conference in Chicago, you must submit to a committee 3 recent clips from national or regional magazines. As the title of the conference suggests, you get one-on-one time with editors from a variety of publications.

10. Travel & Words Writers Conference A one-day conference in Tacoma, Washington that welcomes all travel writers and freelancers.

11. Travel Classics Writers' Conference Another twice-yearly conference for travel writers that offers one-on-one meetings with editors. If that's not incentive enough - the conferences take place at reaaaally luxurious-looking spa hotels.

12. Blog World & New Media Expo This looks like a conference useful for every freelancer or writer, no matter what your specialty. The conference isn't just about blogging, but how to use social media to maximum effect in your writing career.

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