I've gotten many things from writers' conferences: writing tips, feedback, prompts, professional contacts, books, prizes, and even friendships. And, of course, a fine collection of tote bags!
But probably the best thing I bring home is inspiration. It's not just insightful keynotes or pithy quotes or useful lessons. It's the dedication people bring to this craft. It's the feeling of sharing space with dozens of other people who choose to spend a weekend in a hotel conference room tending this essential part of themselves. It's the collective enthusiasm, the collective belief that words matter, that stories matter.
Conferences rekindle my excitement for writing. They remind us that although writing is a solitary profession, we're not really alone.