Keynote Speaker Preview: A Q&A with Dave Cameron

Dave Cameron of Ithaca College is an award-winning speaker in topics related to personal productivity, an area in which many writers will likely say they can improve. We’re delighted to bring Dave’s wisdom to HippoCamp, where he will give our closing keynote, “Humans at Work.” We asked him a few questions about his upcoming trip to our summer creative writing conference in Pennsylvania.


David Cameron

Photo Credit: Adam Baker

HippoCamp: We don’t want to give too much away about your keynote, but please share with us a golden nugget that you hope attendees will take away from your talk that isn’t found on the program description.

Dave: I recently listened to a radio interview with novelist Lauren Groff in which she said “a writer’s a writer not because we’re good at writing, but because we’re willing to do it.” That makes so much sense to me—that the number one thing you really need to succeed as a writer is the willingness to dedicate focused time to the act and process of writing. And time is probably the most precious commodity we have access to these days, yet so many of us struggle daily with how to manage our time and get all the things done we need to do, or want to do.

I’ve had a few different careers and several jobs over the past twenty years, and struggled a lot with how to manage my time to meet the needs and expectations of others as well as my own creative goals. In that time, I think I’ve read just about every productivity book on the shelf and tried every new app or system designed to keep me organized and getting things done, but recently I’ve come to realize that no tool, no matter how sophisticated, will help us be more productive if we aren’t first honest and clear with ourselves about our goals, and embrace our natural human tendencies to avoid anything that feels like work.

Our goals may evolve and change over time, and so may our tools and our environment, but the skill of building daily habits to keep us productive is something we can always use. I will talk about how learning to embrace the qualities that make us human leads to building better habits, developing rewarding routines, and can help make the most of the time we have each day.
What is your best advice for those attending a writing conference, whether it’s for newbies or veterans?

My advice for *any* conference: it’s not a competition.

An effective conference brings people together from all kinds of backgrounds and skills who share a common experience and interest. Don’t have lunch alone. Take the opportunity to connect with other humans face to face and participate in conversations by having at least one question or problem you’re trying to solve you can ask advice about. And be prepared to share something of yourself in return.


“An effective conference brings people together from all kinds of backgrounds and skills who share a common experience and interest.” – Cameron


Aside from speaking, what you are most looking forward to about being part of the HippoCamp?

I’m very interested in meeting and talking with a group focused on the work of writing and sharing stories and ideas from the real world. I look forward to the opportunity to learn something new about the writing trade and hopefully gain some new insight on ways I can improve my own writing skills.


What are you most looking forward to about visiting Lancaster?

I’m a big believer in the philosophy that you don’t really know a place until you eat the food, so I’m looking forward to sampling the what the local chefs and farmers are making. Whenever I travel I make it a rule to not eat anything that I could eat at home, and I don’t think that will be a problem in a place so surrounded by a landscape devoted to growing and producing sustainable foods.

Dave, we’re so excited to welcome you to Lancaster.