My Experience at the Michigan Writing Workshop

Hey guys! As some of you know, I spent last Saturday at a writing conference called the Michigan Writing Workshop! This was my second year attending and today I wanted to take some time to discuss how it went and why I think writing conferences are important for writers to attend.

Like a lot of writers, I am an anxious introvert. I'm terrible at starting conversations and I will often not talk to someone (even if I want to talk to them) because they didn't talk to me first. So as soon as I signed up for the MWW, I immediately started getting really nervous for April 14th.
But the day crept up slowly, and last Friday I picked up my cousin, Cassidy, and that night we looked over the classes for the next day and tried to get a plan for our day. And on Saturday morning, we headed to Novi for the conference.

I was super nervous, to be honest. It was my second time at the conference, but it was a new hotel which meant I wasn't sure where all of the classes and things would be--and not having a plan definitely stresses me out. But we got there, found the registration table--
and I quickly realized my name had been misspelled.

Thankfully, it was not me who had misspelled my own name on the registration form; someone else had accidentally pressed "h" instead of "k" while typing. Still, it was a funny moment that eased a lot of my stress!

Class #1: Query Letter Comprehensive

The first class we took was taught by Eric Smith--my favorite literary agent ever who happens to live like 15 minutes away from me and always seems to go to my local Barnes and Noble literally the day after I was there myself.
He gave an awesome presentation on writing query letters which I will summon up for you here:

1. Follow submission guidelines
2. Let the agent know if it's a multiple submission
3. Don't cuss out the agent and tell him your 200,000+ page book will sell millions of copies whether the agent signs you or not. Seriously. Don't do that.

Photo taken from P.S. Literary's Instagram

Class #2: How to write like the pros

The next class was an overview of 15 Ways to Write like the Pros, taught by Brian Klems.
His name had sounded very familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place it until he said it himself--he's a senior editor for Writer's Digest!
I realized I've read tons of his articles before, so suddenly sitting in one of his classes was really cool!
I plan on summarizing a lot of his class in a later post based on the notes I took, so keep your eyes out for that!

Class #3: Writer's Got Talent!

After lunch, Cassidy and I headed to the Writer's Got Talent portion of the day--an opportunity where anonymous first pages are read in front of a panel of literary agents, and the agents then give their feedback!
It's easily the most nerve-wracking part of the day, and in the words of a writer friend I made on Twitter (but unfortunately did not get to meet at the conference) "It was like the feeling you get opening a response to a query--only every five minutes."
Seriously--nerve-wracking! Every time the reader would begin a new page, my heart would stop until I realized it wasn't mine, and then I would relax. Over and over and over for an hour and a half.
Sadly, my first page did not get read. But I still learned a lot from hearing other pieces, and overall it was a very enriching experience!

Class #4: YA and MG

Class four discussed the YA market and was taught by Heather Maclean, who is a total rockstar and gave me more information in an hour than I heard probably all day.
By this point I was pretty exhausted, but Heather rocket-fired info at us and taught us how the YA and MG markets are changing, and overall taught a pretty important lesson about staying true to who you are as a writer.
Cassidy and I were also able to meet a few other writers from Twitter during this class, and a few even tried helping me figure out what genre Awaken is. (We still didn't figure it out. I've given up hope.)

Class #5: Fantasy and Sci-fi

The final class discussed speculative fiction and was taught by author Steve Bein. His notes included a worksheet for us to fill out, which immediately sent me back to high school. I was so exhausted I didn't even know what to write down. Still, it was a really interesting class!

Overall, MWW was an awesome experience and I am so glad I went--despite how anxious these kinds of events can make me.
When I was younger, I never thought I would attend any writing conferences simply because I didn't think I needed to--but I was wrong. I have learned so much from these two years of attending MWW!
On top of that, conferences often present opportunities to pitch agents or get critiques on your manuscript. While I did not get a critique this year, Cassidy did, and it opened up some pretty awesome doors for her!
At the end of the day, MWW gave me inspiration to sit down and write my book. It gave me encouragement to keep going even when publication feels impossible. And, it gave me the assurance that I'm not alone in the writing world.
If you've never attended a writing conference, I highly suggest doing so if the opportunity arises! You never know what you could learn!

Since MWW, I have (FINALLY) added in the new chapters to my outline for Awaken, and I've also begun writing them, so my word count is slowly going up! On top of that, I've been getting a new poetry submission ready for a deadline I need to meet.

I'm super excited to utilize the information I have learned from this conference and share some of it with you guys here on the blog, so keep an eye out for those posts.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and meet all of your writing goals!