A few weeks ago, I attended the Okanagan Valley Writer’s Festival in Penticton, BC. I was there to make presentations and give Blue Pencil sessions. I also had an opportunity to take in some of the other workshops presented by some very good authors. Even though I was one of “them” I learned from their workshops and it improved my writing skill. Because a writer can never stop working on their skills.

The OVWF was structured so that participants were together all day, for meals, and in the evening. Besides learning new techniques and skills, it helped to foster a camaraderie among the participants. It allowed them to make new friends – writing friends. This to me is just as important as learning to write better or do query letters or how to self-publish your book. Networking and making writing friends is key to developing as a writer. These are your people and they can support you in your journey as a writer. And what better place to meet new writing friends than at a writer’s festival.

When you attend a writing festival, be prepared to take notes – lots of notes. You can digest them when you get home. Be willing to open up about your experience as a writer and to learn how others cope with the same issues you may encounter (such as realistic characters). Don’t be shy. Be prepared to have fun. Make sure you take in all components of the festival and find reasons to laugh a lot. Let this be a positive experience.

There are writing festivals in every state and province in North America. They run at various times of the year, so there is really no one festival season. Some are local and some are national. Some are expensive and some are quite reasonable. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Surrey, BC is a large internationally known event that sells out early. It is not cheap, but the knowledge that is shared and the energy makes it worth while. Don’t discount what you get for your entry fee.

If you haven’t attended a writing festival, put it on your to-do list. I believe you will come away invigorated and motivated to complete that writing project that has been languishing in your computer. You will have new friends who actually understand that you are a writer. And you will have had fun. How awesome is that?

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