Have you ever attended an event that you would describe as “just right?”
I had the privilege of doing just that last weekend.
It was the Northern Colorado Writer’s Conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. I attended this same conference two years ago and had a great time.
It Started in 2014
I’ve gone to a lot of writer’s conferences over the years, but there was something special about this one.
It didn’t take long to realize that it was all about the people. There’s a writer’s group in this area that’s very unique. They’re friendly, but serious about their writing. They’re fun, but very interested in improving their craft. And above all, they’re creative.
I mean, I’ve never attended any other writer’s conference where the organizers put together their own video—write it, act in it, and edit it purely for the entertainment of the attendees. The scripts always contain several inside jokes that only writers understand. As you sit in the audience and chuckle, you feel that wonderful sense of belonging that’s so rare in a writer’s life.
NCW 2016 Proves to be Just Right
This year, NCW director April Moore invited me back to present on two topics—the freelancer’s personality, and boosting productivity. April took over the conference from founder Kerrie Flanagan, who started the Northern Colorado Writer’s group back in 2006, and has organized the annual conference every year since then.
Kerrie’s now moved on to apply her talents to the Writer’s Digest annual conventions, and fortunately April was willing to step up and take over so this great conference could continue in Fort Collins.
I had a blast presenting this year, and getting to know so many writers and other presenters from all different facets of the writing life. But everywhere I went, whether presenting, attending, sharing a meal or a drink, or browsing the bookstore, I heard the same comment:
“This writing conference is just right.”
I heard people say they’d been to other conferences where it was just a little “too casual.” Things weren’t taken quite seriously enough, and so attendees didn’t get what they needed to progress in their careers. Maybe the classes didn’t offer enough information, or the organization was a little lackadaisical.
Other people said they’d been to conferences that were just a little “too stiff.” Everything was too uptight, with presenting rooms fiercely guarded, presenters walking on what seemed to be a different plane—out of reach of the attendees—and the general attitude just a little too high falutin’, as if the conference was a little too proud of itself.
NCW, though, is the exception. Attendees told me it was “just right.” Serious enough to be effective. Thoughtful enough that everyone learned something. Official enough that attendees felt were surrounded by professionals. But fun and creative, too. Everyone enjoyed more than a few laughs, and felt they could let out their goofy sides—so critical to the creative process!
Put NCW 2017 On Your Calendar
I walked away with a lot of things from NCW this year. Great memories, new things learned, and a boost in motivation to get back to work. Most of all, I met some great people that I hope to stay in contact with. The writing life can be a lonely one, and finding fellow travelers with which to share the journey is one of the most rewarding parts of attending a conference.
I’d encourage anyone thinking about boosting a writing career next year to put this conference on the calendar. Beyond the location, the presenters, the big names, or the classes, it’s the people who organize an event that make it what it is, and this one has a unique group you won’t find anywhere else.
They’re just right.