One thing I’ve noticed lately is the proliferation of writing workshops. Everyone and their dog seems to be teaching one. Dozens upon dozens of workshops. So how do you determine which ones are worth their salt? My rule has always been: I don’t spend any money on continuing education unless I am sitting at the feet of the people I most wish to emulate with my own career. This has been true of craft, but it’s also true of business. And to my mind it’s the business aspect that is almost more important than craft. Most new writers will figure out the craft aspect sooner or later, if they keep working at it. But even a very skilled craftsperson can spend an entire career lost at sea if (s)he doesn’t take the time to learn the business. And professional writing is a business, make no mistake about it. Sometimes, six and seven figure business! With so much riding on your business decisions, I think it’s prudent to devote as much time as you can spare to your business plan. But where to start?
I first attended the Superstars Writing Seminar in January of 2011, at the urging of bestseller Kevin J. Anderson, whom I had first met at the 2010 Writers of the Future workshop. I had all of two professional short story publications under my belt, was terribly excited (and terribly nervous) about the road ahead, and felt like I needed to spend a few days immersed in an environment that would help me figure out how I wanted to tackle the rest of my writing career: my 12 month plan, then my 2 year plan, then my 5 year plan, et cetera.
Superstars Writing Seminar did not disappoint. Every single speaker was a top-drawer professional with a proven track record of success — the kind of success I wanted to achieve. I did not want to be a boutique writer. If I’d been satisfied with payments in contributors copies and having only a few dozen friends and family read my work, I’d have never bothered submitting my work to professional markets in the first place. But because I’d decided that any activity requiring as much of a time investment as writing required (to produce the stories and hone my craft) it ought to jolly damn well pay for itself. Or, in the case of some of my writing heroes like Larry Niven, more than pay for itself.
I am pleased to report that almost three years later, everything I learned at Superstars Writing Seminar has proven to be, not only accurate, but prophetic. There is wisdom and practical guidance at Superstars I think has been invaluable to me. So much so that I still go back and review my Superstars Writing Seminars audio files on a regular basis, either to parse out some new detail that wasn’t popping for me in the beginning, but which screams out at me now — or to remind myself of some things I already knew, and just needed to have re-hammered into my brain. Because it’s easy to get side tracked and lose focus.
If you’re a new writer, or you’re a working writer who feels like (s)he could be getting more “bang for the buck” in terms of progress, dollar-per-hour value, and so forth, I can’t think of a better place to go and learn than Superstars Writing Seminars. It really is a special event. Jam-packed with excellent information, advice, anecdotes, things to think about, ideas to take your career in a new direction, or even pick up a career that’s idling or has stalled out somewhere along the line. I feel that even those publishing regularly and doing well could benefit, as there is a synergy at Superstars (between attendees and speakers alike) that tends to generate a unique conversation that I don’t think you can easily get anywhere else.
There’s still plenty of time to sign up. This year’s workshop will be held in lovely Colorado Springs on May 14, 15, and 16. I’ll be there helping out. I’d like to see you there too. My initial investment (of time and money) in 2011 has already paid for itself several times over — and continues to pay for itself. Again, workshops that propose to help you with craft, are a dime a dozen. But workshops that can actually help you with business, taught by successful business-savvy writers who are full-time at what they do, and loving it?
Do yourself a favor and make the decision to commit. Not just because it’s a bang-up fun three days, but because it can literally change your life. I know it did mine, and I am glad I went. Again, the money I invested has more than come back to me — and then some!