The Benefits of a Writers Conference, Workshop or Retreat By Raina Schell

RWA Logo NYCLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Raina Schell as she shares with us about “The Benefits of a Writers Conference, Workshop or Retreat.” Enjoy!


Last month I attended my second RWA (Romance Writer’s of America) National Conference and this year was it was in NYC.

ConferenceIt is my belief that every writer should go to a writer’s conference at least once, whether it’s in your genre or not. There are plenty of people who go to the RWA Conference who are not “romance writers” per say. There is vast learning to be had no matter what you write. RWA offers “tracks” on self-publishing, career, marketing and craft but you don’t have to follow them. I recommend mixing and matching. I also recommend purchasing the MP3’s of all the speakers and workshops if that’s available. I have found that that alone has been my most invaluable tool. With your registration you are also offered a chance to meet and pitch one publisher and one agent if you prefer to go the traditional publishing route.

If you’re on a budget you can still make conferences work. I save the most amount of money by not staying in the conference hotel. The conference hotels are about $250 a night so instead I stay in an airbnb which costs me anywhere from $45 to $80 a night, depending on the location. Last year in Texas I paid about $50 per night and this year in NYC I paid $80. Then I travel to and front the conference either by foot (San Antonio last year) or by subway/bus (NYC this year). Next year the conference is in San Diego which is close enough to me that I can drive down there, stay in an airbnb and either walk or drive over each day. Alternately you can get a roommate and split the nightly hotel fee.

Conference There are also a myriad of writer’s conferences to choose from. You don’t have to go to RWA, you can go to the RT Convention, The Napa Valley Writers Conference, The Kauai Writers Conference, the NYC Writers Pitch Conference and more. There are conferences everywhere. Each one offers something a little different and each will also have a different price point. I suggest researching and finding out which one suits you, your genre, or which one is closest to where you live. Because the bottom line is that if you’re a writer, you will learn a lot at these conferences. You will also meet people, schmooze, rub elbows and learn from the ones who are doing it. A lot of it is about getting out there and getting yourself known – networking. Most writers are introverts, it’s true but most writers are also nice people.

If you’re not ready for a conference yet you can go to workshops or writers retreats, which I recommend anyway. Workshops vary in length from day longs to week longs, sometimes they are even longer. They are smaller than conferences and more immersive.  Often you’ll be focusing on one specific aspect about the craft or marketing. You meet other writers and often come away with a sense “I know what to do next.”

This is the one I recommend and you can also find day long classes taught by Margie.

Hands typing on laptop keyboard - fuzzy looks

Another option: a writer’s retreat. These are small intimate settings that are quite amazing because you get to shop your work and ideas with other writers. You also spend a good deal of time actually writing.

What do all of these have in common? The all provide MOTIVATION and EDUCATION. The amazing thing about these is that you will leave with a renewed sense of purpose and passion. I can’t recommend them enough.



Raina SchellRaina Schell is a vagabond. She lives where the tide takes her. The only constant in her life is her trusty laptop. She doesn’t live in a tidy little house. Her dreams aren’t surrounded by a white picket fence. She has no family but spends her free time with a black and white bunny rabbit named Fred.
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