Four Things I Learned at the Willamette Writer’s Conference


I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland this weekend! Although my brain is crammed full to bursting from all of the information, I wouldn’t trade one minute of the weekend. It was truly amazing. I met a lot of great people, the speakers were excellent, and I pitched my novel to literary agents for the first time!


Coming away from the experience, here is my biggest thought:

I waited far too long to attend a writer’s conference.

What I learned in the course of 72 hours from talking with other writers, asking questions, forcing myself to pitch even though I was scared, and just being an active participant, was worth months of reading and working on my own. The synergy that occurs in this type of setting is irreplaceable. In looking back over the last three days, here are four things I learned:

1) Come ready to engage. It’s such a short amount of time. If you have questions, ask them. If you want to meet someone, stick out your hand. It’s an amazing opportunity to be in the same spot with a ton of different people who are passionate about the same thing as you: writing!

2) Do what you’re afraid of. This was a great weekend for me in the realm of conquering fears. I did not realize how exposed I would feel talking about my writing with other people, but I’m so glad I did. I pitched twice, and both times, right before I went in, I was a ball of nerves. However, contrary to my prior fears, it went fine!

3) Write now, process later. I took lots of notes, not just in sessions, but also when people gave me great tips or a good book title or a useful website. My notebook is a scramble of things written upside down, sideways and completely out of any kind of order, but I’ll organize it all when I type it up, and that will also be a chance to process and chew on what I’ve learned.

4) Make an action list. Even before the conference was over, I started making an action list of things I needed to begin doing immediately when I got home. There is so much information to work through, but if I can decide what to start implementing immediately, there’s a much better chance this stuff will stick.

I’ll have more thoughts to share on the conference in future posts, but that’s it for now. Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? Are there useful tips you would give to others in addition to these?





6 thoughts on “Four Things I Learned at the Willamette Writer’s Conference

  1. I was there too! You’ve captured exactly what I was feeling. I wish I’d done this sooner. I made so many wonderful friends and had great experiences with agents. All I can say is, if you’re contemplating attending a conference but think you’re not ready, just do it!
    Thanks for your insightful blog post. Lots of good advice – I need to sit down and write an action list as well!

  2. I didn’t attend the Willamette conference, but had the very same experience at the Faith & Culture Writer’s Conference last year. Really worth the time and investment. I’d love to hear the top 3 take-aways, or things on your action list as a result.

  3. Dad

    Great insights about the conference. Putting together that action list while the conference is fresh in your mind is so helpful. Thanks for the reminder, Your four takeaways apply to so many areas of life.

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