Plan Your Own Writers’ Conference

With travel costs soaring, maybe you can’t attend a writer’s conference this summer. How about planning a mini-conference with a small group of  local writer friends?

A mini-conference can be one day, a weekend, or however long you want. It’s time that you and your friends spend together learning, sharing, writing, and critiquing.

Prior to your mini-conference, assign each friend a topic to research and present to the group. Topics could include publishing trends, agents, networking, Internet and social media for writers, self-publishing options . . . whatever fits your group’s interests.

Set up a conference schedule that includes presentations, discussion time, writing time, and critiques. Also build in time to socialize and have fun.

Venue is important. You’ll need a place free from interruptions.

  • Rent a cottage.  With everyone in your group splitting the rental cost, a large cottage is an affordable option.
  • Go camping. Being outside, surrounded by nature, is the perfect environment for inspiration. (Of course, you’ll need a source of electricity to charge your laptops.)
  • Find a spot near home. Is there a quiet lake nearby, a secluded nature center, a shady park? Sometimes, the best places for writing and sharing are close to home.  Just remember that your venue should, as Thomas Hardy wrote, “be far from the madding crowd.”
  • Use  your own backyard. Send your spouse and kids away for a few days, and turn your house into a writers’ retreat.
  • Think “outside the box.” Other venues might be a boat, an old barn, an attic (remember Jo in “Little Women”?) Scout around for what’s available and affordable for your group.

Finally, agree on some rules like cell phone use; quiet time for writing; honest, but positive, feedback, etc.

Have you and your friends done a mini-conference? Leave a comment and tell us about it.



Filed under Aspiring Writers, Fun, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Writing Spaces

6 responses to “Plan Your Own Writers’ Conference

  1. I would love to do this and have the place available, but I don’t have “local” authors to join me. So I’ll throw out the idea and hope to get some interest here for a group of four to five people (I could commute from home).

    My preference is to work with children’s authors who write Christian or realistic fiction or non-fiction.

    There is a rustic Christian campmeeting type campground about a mile from my home. It’s about an hour away from Myrtle Beach. It has a “motel unit” with four rooms, a cafeteria, and an open-air tabernacle where in fair weather (fall or spring) would make a great place to spread out and write using laptops. This location would provide small but private rooms for four people. I also know of a gifted cook who would love to cater for us at an ultra-reasonable rate. When I inquired two years ago the campground said they could let the four motel units go for $100 per week, and an additional $100 per week would cover the cost of the use of the cafeteria for the participants.

  2. Sounds like a great plan, thanks for sharing this. My local group has small conferences or workshops every so often. It’s so refreshing to attend and get recharged.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Carol J. Alexander

    Jean, I love this idea. I’m filing this away for future use. Only question…should you try to find a venue with wifi or not? It could be helpful, but it could be a distraction.

  4. Jean, this is a wonderful idea. My critique group has been talking about doing this and we’ll use your post for ideas. Thanks!

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