For so long now, I have always wanted to attend a writers’ conference. I don’t know about you, but unfortunately, I have never been in a position to afford it, as they can be pretty costly. Much to my surprise, I came across a free writers’ conference that was being hosted by the Orange County Library System in Orlando, FL (about two hours away from where I live in Gainesville, FL).
This conference was an all-day event beginning at 10am and ending at 5pm, with sessions that covered a variety of topics of writing and the business of it, and featured some pretty knowledgeable individuals in the field. There were literary agents, publishers, published authors from both the traditional and non-traditional avenues of publishing, and many other speakers who wore even more hats.
I took two full pages of notes and perhaps did my best listening that day than ever before in my life. I knew this was a rare opportunity, one that I couldn’t take lightly, so the night before I diligently prepared my bag. I bought a notebook that doubled as a clipboard (which came in very handy by the way), I made sure to put my zipper pouch of pencils, pens, and highlighters in the bag, along with my eye glasses, and a book to read in case there were some breaks throughout the day. I am so glad I prepared in this way because I really felt I was able to record everything I heard effectively.
The organization of it all was stellar. They had a complete agenda for the day which they posted on the event website and distributed upon your arrival the day of. It broke down the times each session would take place and who was teaching them. This agenda really allowed you the opportunity to attend the sessions that paired well with the current season of your writing life. I felt like a little girl in a candy shop because I was just so eager to attend as many as I could; I wanted them all.
I am happy to report that I have already started putting what I learned into practice. I will be blogging about it all a lot so definitely stay tuned for those posts because if I wrote about all that I learned in this one post, it would span scrolls and scrolls and scrolls of your mouse.
Now having attended, my advice to writers on a budget out there would be to really dig deep online and research not only your local library system, but also the library systems near your city. Had I not searched the Orange County Library System’s website, I never would have learned about this conference. While they are rare, the free writing conferences and workshops are out there, you just need to make the sacrifice to search – a lot.