As a writer, have you ever been to a convention? A conference? A symposium? If you have not done so before, you should. You must. There is no greater opportunity for you, as a writer, to learn from professional authors, editors, and agents. There, panels are held where various topics of interest are discussed, and just by sitting and listening, you can learn tricks and tips of the trade that will provide insight and knowledge about writing and how you can improve yourself.
If you can find a free conference, the more power too you.
I am fortunate to be sitting in a large room right now, listening to Brandon Sanderson's Main Address at LTUE (Life, The Universe, and Everything symposium). Great guy. Great writer. If you happen to read this, Brandon, I hope you're not offended that I'm blogging during your awesome presentation. This article should have been written yesterday, but a date with my wife was more important. Italian food and clothes shopping. The best date combination ever.
Onto the advice.
If you are a first time attendee, wherever your writing conference is (and you can do an easy Google search to find where writing conventions are held in your area), there are a few things that may be useful for you.
1: Take a friend. If this is your first time, you may feel awkward and out of place among so many other aspiring authors and celebrates. This will help you feel relaxed. Relaxed is recommended.
2: Take paper or a notebook (laptop) and take notes.
3: Give the panelists and celebrates space. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself and ask for their advice. However, you don't want to stalk them or monopolize them. They are just as human as you are and other people would like to speak with them too. The last thing you want to get when you leave a convention is a restraining order. Allow them to direct the conversation, keep it short, and get to know another panelist that may not be as popular. Leave a lasting impression, not a creepy chill.
4: Make friends. You will meet people who are trying to write too, and they may get published before you. This is what networking is about. Be sincere and earnest in the interest in others, and they, in turn, will love you for it and do the same.
5: It's worth the investment. Whether you have to pay to get in or if you are taking a week out of your life to be somewhere that you wouldn't normally be, it is worth it.
6: Where something nice. I don't mean slacks or polo shirts, but something comfortable and casual.
I better start paying attention now. I hope this was helpful to you. To put it in prospective, I started going to writing conventions two years ago. I wish I had done this twelve years ago. I have learned more in two years than I have writing for twelve. Search for your next and nearest writer's convention and go! Worry about what will happen to you later. If you want to write and be published, you need to get out there, and you can do it. If I can, you can.
See you on Tuesday. I'm taking Monday off. Holiday, you know.