Writing courses, classes, and conferences. I've been to lots over the years, and I love them! They're a great opportunity to learn, network and generally indulge in the writerly world.
There are many different kinds, some run by local colleges, writers groups, universities, and libraries, as well as other interesting venues. All are very different, and I find it better to attend with no real preconceived expectations.
Most have been well organised, challenging, fun and I've learnt something on the day. Although, it hasn't always been the case, occasionally I've been unlucky. There is nothing worse than coming away from a class, or conference feeling it was a waste of time, and money, and that it would have been more beneficial to have spent the day at home writing!
If you haven't tried a class yet, don't be put off. Do some research, ask around. Try your local library, search online, or better still, ask other writers who may have attended before you.
I'm based in Leicestershire in the UK, so I'll mention two I've visited. The city of Leicester is fortunate to have the Writing School Leicester which runs many events and courses throughout the year, from poetry to YA fiction workshops, and everything else in between.
They've been in business for 60 years, and are highly respected, catering for beginners and those with more experience who want to broaden their horizons. I've made many writing buddies through the school over the years, and although I no longer attend their courses every week, I can highly recommend them, especially if you are starting out on your writing journey.
Swanwick Writers Summer School is a whole week of adventure which happens in Derbyshire, every year where writers return again and again. Its a residential week long conference, packed with workshops, speakers, panels and networking opportunities as published and unpublished writers hang out together for the week.
Many friendships are made, and much fun is had by all! You can find out more details here.
As mentioned, courses, classes and especially conferences are prime networking opportunities. Places writers can make connections with other writers as well as industry professionals. I often hear writers say they feel like they are living in a vacuum, and that they are in danger of becoming insular in their pursuit to write their novel.
My tips for conferences, are simple. Smile, be sociable and share. Most of all have fun.
What are your experiences?