by Beth Ciotta
That said I was heavily armed with passion, motivation, determination, and a willingness to learn. I invested in several “How-To” books, attended a Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, and joined Romance Writers of America. One of the first things I learned was the power of attending workshops. For me, attending a writer’s conference was (and is) like going to school for a day (or a weekend or week) and cramming in as many classes as I can.
Speakers range from unpublished and multi-published authors to industry professionals—all sharing advice in various areas of expertise or experience. Within these workshops, I learned about every aspect of constructing a novel. I also learned how to write query letters, how to promote my work, how to lace a corset (oh, the complications of historical clothing!) and so much more.
Since then, year after year, I’ve invested time and money in various local and national conferences.
1) For the workshops
2) For the networking
3) For the camaraderie
There’s nothing like soaking in information and inspiration via a live speaker, meeting with industry professionals face-to-face, and hanging out with creative sorts who tick just like I do.
Long before I was published, it was suggested that two of the most advantageous ways to network was to attend a conference and A) Volunteer in some capacity or B) Present a workshop.
Volunteering was a no-brainer for me and I happily served in many capacities. But, presenting a workshop? I had no sales record, no areas of writerly or publishing expertise. What would I talk about and, even more daunting, why would anyone want to attend a workshop presented by no-name me?
One day in conversation, the practice of networking came up. As a shy person that term struck fear into my heart. But then I bought a “How-To” book and within the first two chapters, I realized that I had been networking successfully for quite a few years.
Networking properly is an art. The more I researched and observed fellow writers ‘in action’ the more I realized how many people were sabotaging connections rather than genuinely connecting. I poured my heart and experience into creating a workshop on the art of networking and gave my first workshop at my local RWA chapter. My hands shook and my stomach flipped through the entire presentation, but it was worth it. I was stunned by how many people I touched and inspired. I know this because they told me so, in person and via email. Even though I’d been nervous about public speaking, I felt confident and passionate about the subject. Confidence and passion, along with practical advice, made this workshop a shining success.
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of inspiring and enlightening a room-full or even a handful of people. Every writer, no matter where you are in your career, should try it. Again (in my opinion), the trick to creating a successful workshop is to choose a subject that you feel confident and passionate about. Pinpoint your strengths and consider a unique spin on your theme.
Even though I am now a multi-published traditional and Indie author with years of experience, I’m still not comfortable talking or teaching craft. My writing process is insane and, although it works for me, it’s not a practice I’d preach. However, I am extremely comfortable talking about ‘the journey’. How to navigate and survive life as a creative soul.
Over the years I’ve conducted workshops on various topics geared to inspire and motivate. The challenges of publishing, or any other creative art, can be brutal on ones hopes and spirits. Sometimes it helps just to know you’re not alone. Or that someone has had it even worse than you. Or that someone who started out just like you persevered until they achieved their dream or perhaps adjusted their goals in order to forge a different path to contentment.
Personally, I don’t judge whether or not a workshop is successful by the number of people in attendance. What matters is that I make a positive difference in someone’s life—albeit fifty or twenty or even one person. That said, being in tune with your fellow writers’ challenges and the industry as a whole will help to guide you in choosing a theme that will entice people into a room, and speaking with confidence and passion greatly increases your chances of connecting. Whatever your topic, make sure it’s something that sets you fire! Everyone will benefit, including you.
A retired professional performer, Beth now pours her artistic passion into her writing.
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Beth's Newest Release: Marry Poppins
Award-winning author Beth Ciotta presents Marry Poppins, the third book in the contemporary fairy tale series—Impossible Dream—celebrating hope, love, and the magic of the human spirit!
She wants a family. He needs a wife. A marriage-of-convenience solves a myriad of problems for unlucky Georgie Poppins and down-on-his-luck Bryce Morgan. Falling in love wasn’t part of the bargain so no one is more surprised than Georgie and Bryce when sexual sparks ignite a full-blown romance. Unfortunately, as love swells, trouble mounts, including a glitch at Impossible Dream.com—an Internet company designed to match people with their most avid desire. Maybe Georgie and Bryce weren’t meant to be after all.
Available Here: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo