As summer approaches, many writers are looking for ways to get away, recharge their creative batteries, and connect with peers. Every year at this time I get an e-mail from the International Women’s Writing Guild about their Summer Writing Conference.
A quick Google search brought me to “the” guide for writers wanting to get away: The Guide to Writers Conferences & Workshops. This free, searchable directory from ShawGuides lists more than 1,000 conferences with short descriptions highlighting key information of what each conference offers.
I spoke with Dorlene Kaplan, editor of ShawGuides, to find out more about the directory and things to think about as you look to find the perfect writer’s getaway.
“Now is a great time to begin planning a writing retreat or other getaway – summer is the most popular time,” says Kaplan. The three-time published author of personal finance books recalls how she struggled to learn about writing workshops.
“You could find a list of writer’s conferences in publications like Writer’s Digest but you didn’t get much information,” recalls Kaplan. Seeing an unmet market need, Kaplan began researching writing conferences and compiling them in one place in 1988. In 1995, the directory – under the ShawGuides brand — was made available online.
Today, ShawGuides provides directories for a wide array of learning vacations – from culinary travel to photography and language vacations as well as tennis and golf schools.
Writing conferences remain the most popular directory, says Kaplan, who recommends that you should decide early on what type of experience you want from your getaway.
“A retreat doesn’t include instruction,” she says. “You should have a project in the works and be pretty secure in your writing. The whole idea of a retreat is to get away from any distractions and devote your full attention to working on a project.”
In contrast, at a workshop or conference, “you’re really going to learn.”
Kaplan has attended both and found the experiences phenomenal. “Not only do you learn, but also you make connections with agents, editors and other writers (in a non-competitive environment),” she says.
If cost is an issue, consider one-day or weekend programs offered in your community or close by.
“I read years ago and I think it’s so true – over three-quarters of the people who go to these don’t travel very far from their home. You can usually find programs in your community or not too far away,” Kaplan says.
Do you have a favorite writing workshop or conference? Share it here, and I will post the top 10 Blogathon Writer’s Getaways at the end of May.