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What happens in a room full of writers

The excitement is done and now I must sit down and write.

This weekend I attended The Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City at The Roosevelt Hotel. The three day event was packed with sessions from publishing, to developing your craft, and even creative marketing strategies to sell your book.

Overall, it went very well:

The people

Nothing beats being in a room full of people who are equally, or perhaps even more, passionate about the same thing as you are. The energy that filled the room from an array of writers who were “newbies,” journalists, and even best-selling authors never gets old.

And as much as I have come to appreciate and love the blogging world and its bloggers, there’s no better massage to the brain than to be amongst writers who blog, and have an appreciation and respect for the craft of writing, rather than bloggers who simply — well, just blog.

The keynotes

The keynotes were all inspiring in their uniquely touching, yet sometimes funny way. Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life and Devotion, shared how writing saved her life. She spoke on boldly writing about our lives saying, “We do not choose the stories that we tell. The stories choose us.” And that we should never be ashamed to share the muck in our lives because others can find healing in it.

The following day’s keynote was by Harlan Coben, a New York Times bestselling author. In a comical, yet relatable way he explained how being a best-selling author isn’t any more prestigious than being a “regular” writer. Cohen said, “Only bad writers think they’re good,” and he constantly noted even in being an accomplished writer, he still struggles with insecurities. “One moment I’ll write something and think it’s genius, just to read it again and realize it’s stupid,” he laughed. Yet, he urged us all to “face the blank page,” because “the only thing that makes you a writer is actually writing.”

Kimberla Lawson Roby, another New York Times best-selling author, was the closing keynote. She shared her writing journey from her doubts to her successes in beginning as a self-published writer. Roby said she quit her job to pursue her passion, and her husband even volunteered to use money from his 401k to support her. She said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80 years old. It’s never too late to live out your passion.” And using the words her husband told her, “If it does not work then you move on to something else,” because it’d be ashame to one day inquire of ourselves, “‘If I had tried what could have happened?’” Roby noted her books have received praise, and criticism for its controversial and often labeled “scandalous” stories. However, she responded saying, “I always try to tell the truth in stories whether it’s good or bad.” And preceding a loud applause, she ended on one of several notes: “Every day before I write, I’m on my knees asking God what to say.”

What do you think? What was your impression of the conference?

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