Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Conference – A Recap

Last weekend, I spent three days at the Westin in Pasadena, California attending a Novel Writing Conference hosted by Writer’s Digest Magazine. I’ve never actually been to a writing conference before. I’ve been to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books once (which was great fun, and I do plan to return to it!), and I’ve certainly attended panels and booths about books and writing at other conventions I’ve attended. But a conference just for writers? Where you sit in a room with other writers and declare to them – and to yourself – that “Yes. I am one of you. I am a writer”? The very idea of it terrified and thrilled me.

The thing that sold me on the conference was when an issue of Writer’s Digest arrived announcing Curtis Sittenfeld as the Saturday evening keynote speaker. I’d read Sittenfeld’s Prep – her debut novel – the month it was released and had been enamored with that book, and her writing, ever since. You may have noticed pictures on this blog before of the quilt that hangs on the wall in office. That quilt was a birthday gift from my mother, and on the spines of all the books, she hand-embroidered the names of novels and plays that have held special meaning and importance to me over the years. The Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey. Twilight and Hunger Games and Harry Potter. Favorite books from childhood, like Ramona Quimby and Charlotte’s Web and Matilda. Plays I’ve performed in, like Taking Leave and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And, on the same fabric shelf that shows the spines of The Great Gatsby and White Oleander is Prep. 

So when I saw Sittenfeld was one of three keynote speakers, I made my decision and signed up. Even though the event was only about 90 minutes away (hahahaha — sorry, little inside joke for everyone who knows what L.A. country traffic is like and what ’90 minutes away’ really means),  I booked a room at the hotel so I could get the full conference experience.

And it was amazing. I’m not going to go into too much detail – though, my Patreon subscribers are getting a *little* more than I’m giving here in their exclusive blog post this month – but I will say that if you’re a writer, attend this conference. There was such an interesting array of individuals to meet and connect with and learn from. The panels were informative, the events were fun, and I left the weekend feeling inspired and awakened.

For fun, here’s a handful of pictures I snapped over the weekend, including photos with Curtis Sittenfeld and the Sunday keynote speaker, Nicola Yoon:

Have you ever been to a writing conference? Which one(s) would you recommend? Let me know in the comments, or tweet me @ThatColette!