Some thoughts on the WDCE/SWCE

WDCE 2013The Writer’s Digest Conference – East was held in concert with the Screen Writers Conference – East, at the Times Square Sheraton in Manhattan. Mere blocks from the electric gloaming at the heart of the Square, I was fortunate to join the audience of several highly informative, entertaining, and enlightening panels and classes that were hosted by many successful authors, screenwriters, and captains of publishing and media industry.

In addition to the motivation the conference afforded me – and, indeed, attendance served me a raw shot of adrenaline and inspiration – I came away with what I felt were invaluable connections and tokens of information that will serve me well as I hone my skills as a hybrid writer.

Funny You Should Ask…Live!
Barbara Poelle and Jessica Strawser hosted a live edition of Poelle’s funny and informative advice column, Funny You Should Ask, where no question posed was left unanswered. A professional literary agent, writer, and stand up comedienne, Poelle offered a charming, witty insider’s view of the publishing industry, including her own experiences with and as an agent, and what she as an agent would expect to see of a potential new literary client. I take away from her a better understanding of how to format and submit professional queries, and I will be following her stand-up career with great interest!

Adriana Trigiani – Your Writing Life
Adriana is an American treasure, a dynamic marvel who sows inspiration and positivity amongst those fortunate enough to hear her speak. Having a background in theatre and comedy, she was kind enough to help illuminate the differences between publishing/producing a book, and releasing a play for production. Among numerous questions she answered during her keynote, Adriana warmed us all with the recognition that we, as writers, are certified weirdoes, and that, sometimes, your only option is to drink coffee and cry.

Stop! Don’t Write That Script!
Steven Arvanites, the founder of, was a last minute replacement to host this workshop on script writing, and for that, I am extremely grateful. His presentations on plot and story development were funny and informative, and he left us with valuable formulas and excercises for developing our stories and formatting them. His experience and insight will serve his attendees as they create characters that actors will clamor to play, and write scripts that producers and agents will enjoy reading.

I enjoyed this, my first professional writers conference, quite a lot – and not just because I take any excuse I can to visit New York City! While in attendance, I was delighted to serve as a correspondent for the conference via Twitter. It was my pleasure to chronicle my attendance, reporting, therefore, to enrich the experience of my fellow attendees.

What Do We Take Away?
The best thing you can do for your career, as a writer, is to get into the habit of attending conferences such as this. Not merely for the networking and pitching opportunities afforded, but for the insights those veterans of the field can impart.

Do your research:
Plenty of writers espouse a scatter philosophy when pitching to agencies. Though it never hurts to send an email, take the time to research the agencies to which you are pitching. Search for agents who specialize in the type of writing you personally do, and pitch to them. Pitching outside of your field is little more than a waste of time; even if an agent outside of your field finds your pages intriguing, they may not be able to do anything to help you with them.

Practice and Discipline:
Determine how many words, or pages, you can comfortably write in a week. Keep track of that, and diligently push yourself to write 10% more.

Make Social Networking Work for You:
Your social networking presence is a mainline to word-of-mouth exposure for your work. This can serve you brilliantly, but remember to keep the “social” in “social networking”: Engage your followers, and interact with the digital community. Earn the trust of your audience before you start promoting your work, or you start to look like a spambot.

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