How to make the most of #DWF17

Misty McPhail  

For writers like me with limited spare time, there’s nothing better than having the 2017 Digital Writers’ Festival right at your fingertips. You really can watch from anywhere, and it’s an easy way to kill an hour during your commute home from work, or keep entertained while in the kitchen while cooking dinner. When else can you attend a live performance event or panel discussion while sitting on the couch at home? Wherever you are, DWF is breaking new ground and you’ve got front row seats to the show.

However, just because you’re watching from home or on the train doesn’t mean you should sit back and do it solo. EWF has a great community of emerging writers participating in #DWF17 and an even bigger community tuning in from their phones and laptops. All of them will be online and ready to chat to you, so get involved!

We’ve rounded up a couple of tips to help you make the most of this year’s Digital Writers Festival, particularly if you want to get some new writer friends all up in your (social) feeds.

1. Save the dates. The easiest way to miss out on meeting people is by missing the event all together (which is VERY easy to do when life takes hold). Go to the DWF website program page now and select the events you want to see – click on the YouTube feed embedded on the event page and it’ll automatically save the date in your calendar. Line up all of your reminders so your trusty computer will remind you when the live stream is about to start.

2. Book a workshop. Learning from someone who knows what they’re talking about is always inspiring, but doing it online offers a different (more relaxed) environment. You can try something you’ve always wanted to try, like developing an interactive narrative, writing short fiction, or learning how to pitch your next story like a professional. You’ll be given space to listen and take notes and think about how best to use the advice you’re being given. You also end up with a direct line to the teacher, so you can get some feedback on your work if you want it. It’s a great way to get inspired.

3. Follow the artists in your selected events immediately. Follow the artists in your event on Twitter right now! Often, they’ll have something to say before the event, so you can get to know what they’re excited about or whether they’re nervous. They’re also all wonderful humans who would love to know that people are interested in their event, so tell them you’re attending. Mention them in your tweets, ask questions using the #DWF17 hashtag. Keep the conversation going and maybe even make a new friend!

4. Get ready to actually converse. That’s the thing about conversations – they always require interaction. The essential elements that roll out a conversation online – shares, likes, replies, .replies and retweets – are key to being sociable. Interact, listen and respond. Read what people have to say, click the heart if you crack a smile, laugh back with a reply, retweet with your additional thoughts. Follow and use the #DWF17 hashtag, tell us you’re here, and say something – anything!

5. Prepare yourself. DWF is like a festival at the cinema – you may as well put your feet up and settle in. Bring snacks, grab a drink! I always have my notebook close by to jot down ideas, and most often I’ll set myself up with a second screen (that’s my desk from last year above). Artists will often mention their work or talk about some other great online writer and I love that I can look them up right then and there while still watching the event. I also sometimes find it easier to use my phone to follow the #DWF17 Twitter feed so I don’t have to keep switching tabs between the live feed and the Twitter conversation, but that’s just me. I would suggest the best setups include at least the DWF page, and a Twitter feed.

6. Be kind. Remember, writers are people too, you know. It takes guts to talk about your work in front of the whole world and sometimes it can be totally nerve-wracking not knowing who’s out there. If you’re enjoying the event, say so! Thank people for their advice. And it goes without saying, don’t yell and don’t be nasty.

7. Remember that if you live in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth, there are also IRL events so you can be ~extra~ social. 2017 is the first year that we’re presenting (free) events that you can actually attend IN PERSON. If you’re feeling up to putting on clothes that aren’t pajamas, pop down and come and say hello in the flesh! There are some fantastic writers in these programs who are sure to bring in some lovely listeners, we’d love to meet you and have a face to face conversation while we add each other on Twitter. If you can’t make it to these events, don’t worry they’re all live streamed – Tweet at us instead so we know you’re watching.

The Digital Writers’ Festival is on from the 24th of October until the 3rd of November 2017. Check out the full program here. Follow our Twitter here to start that conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!