Planning for the Writer’s Conference – Pick your panels! #sfwc

I just received the schedule of panels for the conference; and I found it a bit overwhelming. It was like being a rock in a stream — drowning in the frigid rush of snowmelt. For years we writers have been bombarded with information about how to write, how to be creative, and how to market ourselves. The water — the information — is constantly changing. As soon as you think you know who to follow, the water changes. It seems impossible to know where to begin.

Well, little rock, take note of your position in the stream.

The good part about having so many options is that you can design your own weekend. Think about what you already know, how far you’ve gotten, and what you need in order to get to the next level. Since I write fiction, I’ve identified four stages (categories) which might be applicable for folks on my track. (Sorry, poetry and non-fiction folks!)

  • I want to be a writer! – Look for panels and mixers designed for the very beginning: how to write, how to silence your inner editor, how to build good habits, and the basics plotting and character creation.
  • I just finished my MS! – This is when you’d start looking for more advanced panels like editing your own work, how to refine your manuscript, how to incorporate the setting into the story and how to make your words stronger and more alive.
  • I’ve edited a bunch and am ready to submit! – You’ve written, you’ve edited, you’ve polished. Now’s the time to learn about getting published. Learn how to get an agent’s attention, build a platform, find out what it takes to self-publish and do all the prep work toward your debut.
  • I’m already a pro! – There are a number panels that discuss writing across different genres, how to give readings, how to self-publish and even how to make the most of your tax return.

In addition to this, there are specific panels dedicated to genre like sci-fi/fantasy or memoir. Whether you’re a master revisiting fundamentals, or a new writer trying to figure out the next steps there’s a ton of beneficial info here.

The best way to get the most out of an experience like this is to pause, take a look at where you are in the process, and decide what you need right now. No two conferences or conventions will be alike. There’s always more to know, and more people to meet.


I’ll be sure to report back other details as they arise.

No man ever steps in the same river twice.
— Heraclitus

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”
— Paulo Coelho


7 thoughts on “Planning for the Writer’s Conference – Pick your panels! #sfwc

  1. Brian C. E. Buhl

    This seems like fairly sound advice, perhaps with any endeavor. It’s important to evaluate where you are before you start trying to figure out where you’re going.

    The only thing I might mention in addition is to evaluate where it is your going. You mention “getting to the next level,” but that will mean something different each writer.

    If you’re trying to be the next Brandon Sanderson, the next level might mean finding an agent, and learning how to sell your work through the traditional publishing route.

    If you’re trying to be the next Hugh Howey, the next level isn’t about finding an agent at all. It’s about learning to market your own work, and learning to use the tools out there to make your self-published work better. It’s about learning to reach broader markets on your own.

    Finally… there is no substitute for quality. There is a kind of insanity where a person continuously frets and reworks the same piece of work, over and over, trying to polish something beyond reason. There is also a kind of recklessness, where something that needs more work is rushed out the door. Regardless of how a person plans on getting their work out in front of readers, the writer needs to learn how to find the sweet spot between OCD and impatience.

  2. Pingback: San Francisco Writers Convention – Pitchquest | KatanaPen

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