Last month I attended the fall writers conference put on by the Detroit Working Writers. This group was started in 1900 and was then known as the Detroit Press Club. Later, it was called Detroit Women Writers. Today the organization includes men and women who are writers of all genres: mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasy as well as nonfiction and poetry. While most of the conferences I have ever attended were romance-writing oriented, I think it’s good to step out of that comfort-zone and mingle with other writers. The creative energy that’s absorbed at a conference is the same no matter what sort of writing is discussed, and there was a lot of that energy at this particular one.
Held at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library on a Saturday in September, this was a day-long conference that included a continental breakfast and box lunch. There were two morning sessions and two in the afternoon, and we were able to choose from several workshops during each session. I chose one on self-publishing and Getting Your Foot in the Door for the morning and Inner Dialogue of a Writer and Social Media for Writers for the afternoon. They were all very informative workshops. Some of the information I already knew about (RWA really does educate us romance writers well) but it helps sometimes to hear it in a different context. In the Inner Dialogue workshop, the speaker used several books, including Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont, to get across her message of writers listening to their own voices in creating their work. That particular book is one of my favorites on the subject of writing. We were encouraged in the workshop to share some of our own methods and also our goals. I found that very inspiring to hear how other writers work and what helps them the most.
The keynote speaker (who also gave one of the workshops I attended) was Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli, a Michigan author who grew up on the east side of Detroit and who now lives and writes in northern Michigan. Elizabeth shared what helped form her as a writer; the incidents and lives that inspired and continue to influence her work. Her message was strong on believing in yourself, never giving up, and always looking ahead to what’s next. I was able to speak with her for a few minutes after her luncheon talk and thanked her for her encouragement. It really does help to hear how other writers, especially women, have struggled to write while keeping a marriage together, raising a family and finding your voice.
The final workshop I attended talked about social media for writers and included advice on keeping one’s personal information separate from your business, using social media to your best advantage, and trying to only use it in a positive way. One piece of advice given was to not post negative comments in your business-related media, which I thought was an excellent suggestion. It was mainly a PowerPoint presentation and it was not necessary to take notes as the authors were willing to send workshop attendees a link to all their information.
I think going to an occasional conference is good for a writer, and as I said, it’s especially good to mingle with writers outside your genre. This was a good choice; low-key and affordable. Plus, my daughter works at the library so I was able to spend the weekend with her, and she drove me to and from the conference. If you would like to know more about Detroit Working Writers, go to