I just finished presenting on humor at Wordcrafters’ Be Writing Conference in Eugene, Oregon. It was a fun event that I was excited to be part of and thrilled to be a guest presenter at.
Every year is a little different in format. This time around, I would guess there were close to 100 people for a full day writing event. The structure of the event was different from what they did in the past too. Instead of being a three day event, this was a 1 day intensive. Each presenter spoke about a writing topic and then gave the audience an exercise to write about related to that aspect of craft for half an hour. This was different from their past conferences and from other conferences I have been to. There have been so many times in the past that I have gone to a conference, learned new techniques and wanted to execute those ideas right away—but I was exhausted after three days of attending workshops, and I needed to get back to day job. Ultimately that means I did not have time to write using what I had learned, and then became busy and never did all the things I wanted to do. This event gave writers time to put into practice what they had just learned.
Things I thought worked well about the conference:
Ample outlets for people to plug computers into.
Tables so people could bring their laptops.
Tables arranged so that the introverted writers had to sit in circles of five to seven with their peers and interact.
Ample free parking a few blocks away—for those familiar with Eugene.
Easy to locate downtown location.
A bookstore that authors could check their books into.
A swag table/promo table authors could leave business cards, bookmarks and other materials at.
1 day affordable event.
Enough time to explore exercises after each topic was presented.
Craft lab sessions in which people were able to ask experts questions, soundboard or ask for advice.
Great presenters! (And I am not just saying that because I was presenting. All the presenters were great.)
The other thing I enjoyed about Wordcrafters is how friendly, professional and warm everyone was. The staff was great and the writers attending wanted to learn. People came up to me after my presentation and told me what they found useful. (Okay, so I really liked talking to attendees because they told me how funny, witty and what how fashionable I was.) The participants in the craft lab genuinely wanted to know how to improve their writing or get more out of their writing, as opposed to just wanting to be told their writing was perfect and they could quit their day job. I felt like I could talk to people honestly and give them feedback that they found valuable.
Maybe the biggest thing I loved was that I felt like a rock star. I’m sure part of it was because I was a presenter, but I have been a presenter for other audiences and not always felt that way. I think part of it was that it was such a small group, it felt intimate and people at the conference were highly focused on craft—not selling/pitching their already perfect manuscript, so people went in with a different attitude.
It was reaffirming to connect with these adults who wanted to learn from me, treated me like an expert in the field (okay, so I guess I am, but I sometimes forget that from 8-4 pm each day while teaching high school and am handing out detention slips). It was energizing to talk about something I am proficient in. When I am not teaching high school students, which is an exhausting, thankless job, I sometimes forget I actually am competent and proficient in teaching. And I like teaching. It was refreshing to walk away from the event feeling like a writing super star.
Thank you, Wordcrafters!