~~Greetings and salutations from beyond the conference.
My bags are finally unpacked and I’m sort of caught up on sleep so let’s dive further into our discussion on attending writing conferences.
As you know, I recently returned from a three-day conference in Calgary, Canada where I attended both as a presenter and participant. I met so many fantastic people, bought books, sipped some champagne, wrote some crazy whacko one-liners, found a clever way to inspire the poet in me, and chatted until my head was spinning.
Bathing in the creative energy of so many like-minded individuals is invigorating, exhilarating, and challenging. It can also be exhausting, overwhelming, and frikken intense.
It’s really important to know your limits and when to take a break. I often overdo it at conferences because its such a great opportunity to connect with other writers and I’m always afraid I’m going to miss something. Remind yourself why you’re there—it’s not to party or stay in your hotel room—it’s to learn and connect.
Here are my top five reasons for going to a conference~~in no particular order.
1.To learn. I don’t care if you’ve been writing for six months, six years, or sixty years—there’s always something new to learn. There are always new ideas, technology, and industry changes that impact the writing world and it’s a perfect time to catch up. In my opinion, writers should always be open to expanding their current knowledge and constantly striving to improve in their craft.
2. To share. Whether it’s your thoughts, expertise, or advice you’re sharing, always try to stay in a positive space and not get sucked down the proverbial rabbit hole of negativity or self-doubt. We all bring something different to the table and sharing our own experiences could offer valuable lessons and encouragement to others. To witness or participate in writers connecting and sharing their experiences, stories, or anecdotes is invaluable no matter which way you look at it. (The stories can also sometimes be uber entertaining—never leave home without your comedic/accepting side—it comes in handy.)
3. To network. Attending a conference is a good time to meet industry professionals. Networking allows you that personal connection that may someday open doors. One great example of this is when you query an agent or editor that you’ve met previously at a conference. By all means, mention that in your letter and perhaps your query will garner a bit more attention. Networking in the writing world is invaluable.
4. To Find your People. Writers are notoriously introverted, sometimes to the point of isolation, while they create new worlds, invent intricate characters, and weave diabolical plots. It’s amazing when you meet others who share common interests and writing goals. Imagine finding someone who’s also into dragons, horror, or poetry—it could be kindred spirits at first glance. One cool example of this happened at the Calgary conference when several participants discovered that others were interested in a full night of Dungeons and Dragons for next years conference—I believe it’s going to happen. Now if you ask me, it’s always cool to know like-minded writers and readers in your genre. The result of finding your tribe is both exciting and validating.
5. Learn to ask questions and be seen. This may be one of the toughest things to do for many conference-goers. It’s important though that you learn to be the whole package. Just imagine~~you’ve written a best-selling book and your local TV station calls you up for a chat…are you ready? Have you learned to speak up and not hide in the back of the room? Conferences are meant to offer a safe place to practice your social skills, talk about your work, and connect with others. This may prove difficult for some but you’ll need to work to overcome the shyness, insecurity, or whatever it is that holds you back. Sometimes you have to fake it ’til you make it. I know you can do it.
I’ll put together one more info blog for conferences…see you in a couple of days.