Stories and lessons from the first Writer Igniter Conference

DSC_0149This past weekend I attended the first ever Writer Igniter Conference, an online writing conference run by Gabriela Pereira, Chief Instigator of DIY MFA and one of my favourite people in the blogosphere. The first day of the conference focused on craft and the second day’s workshops focused on the business side of writing.


Feedback sessions

There were four feedback sessions during the Writer Igniter conference including two first page critique sessions(one for YA/MG and one for adult genre fiction), a log line critique session and even a short website critique session at the end. A combination of editors and agents provided the feedback, and participants were invited to give each other feedback too.

These feedback sessions came at the perfect time for me, as I’ve got a novel in the final stages of editing before submission and I’m going to be doing a big update to my website over the next couple of weeks(mostly to update my publications list and update my bio), so I really appreciated the opportunity to get feedback from the pros.

I managed to score a first page critique, a log line critique and a website critique and I’ve already edited the first scene in my novel and my log line based on the feedback I was given. Both the pros and the other participants at the conference gave me valuable, specific advice I know will help me take my work to the next level, and I’m incredibly grateful.

Feedback sessions were done live but online and most of the sessions were done anonymously, which was great for me because I personally have a hard time dealing with face-to-face critiques. I’ve got a pretty thick skin and I only submitted work I’m extremely proud of(putting a first draft in front of an agent, even at a conference, is a bad idea) but having the whole internet between us definitely helped relieve any anxiety I felt beforehand.

The workshops

The first day of workshops began with an outlining workshop and ended with a revision workshop. I won’t comment on the outlining workshop because I deliberately skipped it(I plan to listen to the recording right before I do an outline next week) but I loved the revision workshop. A lot of it was stuff I already knew phrased in a more coherent way than I heard it before, but it provided great insight into the way other writers approach the process.

In the end my only complaint about the revision workshop is that I ran out of room for notes:


The second morning of the conference featured a presentation about how authors can legally protect their work(I’ll admit, I slept through most of this one) and a class about social media for writers. For me the social media workshop was pretty basic–I’ve been researching social media for writers as long as Facebook has existed–but it was a thorough introduction to the concepts and it was awesome to see other writers having light bulb moments.

The conference finished off with a workshop on book proposals led by Gabriela herself and an “Ask the Expert” panel featuring most of the speakers from other workshops and critique sessions. I kept mostly quiet for this one but really enjoyed the thoughtful questions other writers asked and the thorough answers they received.

Why I like the online conference format

I do plan to go to in-person writing conferences at some point, but here are a few reasons why I like online conferences:

  • It’s cheaper — I managed to snag an early bird ticket to the Writer Igniter Conference for $147, but it only went up to $187. This is cheaper than a lot of big conferences, especially when you consider that I didn’t have to travel or eat out.
  • No commute — When I woke up and realized it was already 20 minutes into the legal workshop I only had to jump out of bed and hurry to my computer, meaning I could still attend part of the workshop.
  • No stress about clothes — When I go to a professional event I always struggle to choose an outfit and decide how business-y or casual I want to be. I honestly didn’t even get dressed for either day of the Writer Igniter Conference and nobody even knew!
  • Easy to connect with other participants — The tech used to run the Writer Igniter Con split the screen between a slideshow presentation and a chat room where participants could connect and ask questions. This meant we could participate in the discussion without interrupting presentations and it also made it really easy to get to know the other participants during and between workshops.

The Takeaways

I’ve attended the Muse Online Writer’s Conference before but I got way more out of the Writer Igniter Conference. The format of the workshops was much easier to follow and the specific feedback I got on my work and my website was well worth every dollar I spent on the conference.

The chatroom also allowed me to make connections at opportune moments. During the social media workshop I got everyone to share their Twitter profiles so we could connect. During the revision workshop I talked about trading critiques and I’m already trading first chapter critiques with two of the participants.

I’ve finished this conference with all kinds of new ideas for my writing and a fresh boost of motivation to keep working towards my dreams, and in the end that is priceless.

Would I attend this conference again?

I’d definitely attend the Writer Igniter Conference again, although next year I’d love to see some new, more advanced workshops about things like how to write a query/synopsis. The feedback sessions alone would be well worth the cost of the conference, but at this point in my writing career I’d get a lot more out of workshops heavily focused on the submission and publishing process.

Have you ever attended a writing conference? What was it like? Tell me in the comments below!