Six Reasons to Go To Writing Camp
(Otherwise known as a conference)
By Marcia Thornton Jones

Yesterday, while attending The Carnegie Center’s Books-in-Progress Conference, I was chatting with someone about whether or not to invest in a writing program. Was it worth the fee? Was her writing worth it? Was she worth it? The discussion made me wonder:  Why are we so hesitant to invest in our own writing? After all, parents are often happy to spend money on summer camps, vacations, and trips to museums for their kids. If parents believe summer camp is worth the investment, why wouldn’t the same be true for us?

As writers, we need to stop feeling guilty about shelling out a few bucks on developing our skills. Conferences, workshops, seminars, and retreats are not indulgences. They’re educational opportunities. So pack your duffel bags because here are six reasons why we as writers should attend a summer camp (otherwise known as a conference).


  1. Strengthen understanding of craft and technique – No matter how many times I attend a session on a specific topic, I always walk away with new knowledge, insight, and perspective that I can apply to my own work. Attending sessions on voice, plot, and character development helps us take our writing to the next level.
  2. Broaden knowledge of marketing and publishing – Participating in an editorial panel of first page critiques, listening to agents talk about market trends, and pitching to agents, editors, and other writers provides insight into the ever-changing world of publishing. Learning about new social media and publishing trends helps us become savvy about marketing our work and ourselves as writers.
  3. Challenge creative muscles – Attending sessions that aren’t typically in our wheelhouse provides ah-ha insights for expanding voice and style. For example, a session on memoir writing can help fiction writers learn about character transformation, and signing up for a poetry class can help develop rhythm and imagery in prose.
  4. Motivate and inspire – There is an infectious energy at conferences. Discussions, writing prompts, and brainstorming sessions open pathways of discovery and possibility that beg to be applied to works-in-progress when we get home.
  5. Develop a community of like-minded colleagues –Having the opportunity to share experiences and develop a sense of community strengthens our sense of purpose and builds self-confidence because we’re reminded that we aren’t the only ones experiencing the highs and lows of trying to put words and stories on the page. Besides…other writers are a lot of fun!
  6. Validates our writing and ourselves – Investing in our craft validates and empowers our writing and ourselves as writers to family and friends. It sends a clear message that writing is important not only to us as individuals, but to our communities and culture as well. Besides, if we compared the conference cost to other expenditures (like eating out, glasses of wine over dinner, and chocolate…lots of chocolate) we’d realize that in the grand scope of things, it isn’t that expensive at all.

 Simply put, our writing is worth it, and so are we!

See you at camp!


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