This time around, I attended a few more writerly things than in the past, on account of I have a completed short story that I'm trying to sell, which makes me a real wannabe writer, as opposed to a vaguely-would-like-to-be writer. I did one ORC (Open Read and Critique) session. The format of these is one writer reads his or her story for 5 minutes, then each other person present gives a one minute critique. I found out that I'm bad at processing a story as I'm hearing it and thinking critically about it at the same time. I also found out that my story (or at least the opening) came across as YA to more than one of the other people there. I'm not sure what to do about that; the issue appears to be that it opens with a scene with the female viewpoint character shopping for clothes, which I suppose is the sort of thing a young female reader would stereotypically be interested in. Of course, I put the scene in there in response to older female readers in its first critique group complaining that the character ought to care about what she was wearing for the main event in the story, so I can't win. (And I would have a hard time taking out the scene at this point, because the shop clerk became an important character in her own right.)
There was a "Story Outline in an Hour" workshop; to my surprise I nearly came up with an outline of my own. And the folks running the panel explained that it really ought to be a 90-minute workshop, since it takes about a half hour to explain the process as it goes along, so an incomplete outline seems to be about par. I don't know that I want to do anything with this particular outline, but the process itself may be very useful in the future.
The songwriting workshop was much less methodical, and not terribly helpful, except that they did come up with a bunch of prompts, so I escaped to the hallway, wrote a short song, and then came back in and sang it. I'm not sure how or if this could be done well. Part of the problem is that my process is different from the usual filk processes. I do not play an instrument, so the "noodle on your instrument until you come up with something" plan fails for me. Also, I mostly write originals rather than parodies. I always start from words, and by the time I have a couple of rhymed lines, a melody generally comes to me. (This also happens when I read poetry.)
The Metallurgy of the Japanese Sword panel was really fun. It was nifty to see the connections between the physical chemistry and the traditional swordmaking processes, and how they came together to produce swords with properties that were desirable for their intended use, (i.e. killing people.)
I only saw a few concerts, because they were mostly in the evenings, when I had to be away. I did see and like the Double Clicks, who were pretty fun, a sister act with hipster/geek-ish lyrics. I would have liked them more if they had been better singers though.
As always at these things, I become keenly aware that I need to make more geek friends. There are lots and lots of awesome people at cons, and only a few I know and can talk to.