>Choose the conference that’s right for you

>I have attended five writers conferences this year and have another one next week. Every conference is different. If you ever thought about attending a conference, don’t just pick the first one that you hear about or the one that’s closest to home. They’re too expensive to waste your time on the wrong conference. Pick the one that will blow your mind and set your career on fire.

I feel as if that’s what happened for me the last weekend of September in Georgia. I was there to teach. If the terms weren’t so lucrative, I wouldn’t have gone. I flew from the Northwest to the Southeast part of the country, and I don’t want to see another airport for a long time. But at this small conference in Columbus, I had a long, leisurely talk with an agent who is very interested in the book I’m working on. More important, she had great suggestions that made sense.

Although I know this is a newspaper-writing blog, I write poetry, too, and I had the most inspiring classes with Memye Curtis Tucker. It’s as if somebody literally turned a light on and I can finally see what I’m doing.

If you were looking for a newspaper freelance class, mine was the only one, and I wouldn’t fly across the country just for one class. I’d buy my book and look for a conference that had more workshops for freelancers.

Other conferences are heavy on fiction or put most of their emphasis on pitching books to agents and editors. If you’re not writing fiction or don’t have a book to sell, save your money for something that will help where you are right now in your career.

If newspapers are your thing, seek out journalism conferences put on by organizations that focus on article-writing. The Society of Professional Journalists  and The American Society of Journalists and Authors both offer great conferences. Search for “journalism conferences” and you’ll find more. Conference season is almost over for this year, but it’s not too early to start making plans for next year.

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