Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Ways to Gear Up for a Writer's Conference

Since I am preparing to present at the upcoming Write Here in Ephraim Conference coming up the 28 and 29 of March, I have been thinking again about how a writer can best prepare for such an event. Below is a list of ways I have previously prepared, as well as some tips on what I've learned, both positive and negative.


1. Decide before the conference the classes you would like to attend. Give it some thought and take some risks. Take a class you really need help in, rather than a class subject you know a lot about and feel comfortable with. I have seen many writers choosing their classes the day of the conference, and this adds stress to a day that should be open to fun and learning.

2. Having said that, be prepared to change a class or two at the last minute. Sometimes a speaker doesn't show up because of sickness or another personal problem. You may also find that as the speakers introduce themselves at the beginning of the event, that a particular speaker strikes you as a better match for you in terms of personality and focus.

3. Instead of filling your entire day with classes, take at least one break; meaning, leave a spot open without a class to do some needed reflection. If you don't, you may find that by the end of the day you're not taking in the last few classes anyway. Yes, there is usually a break for lunch and even dinner, but these times are usually spent across the table speaking to other authors, not sitting alone for some needed quiet time.

4. Bring lots of paper or your laptop. Don't count on the conference to provide you with note taking needs; they usually do, but not always. Bring an extra pen. You never know when the pen you're using is going to run out of ink.

5. Bring your business cards and/or postcards. I've spoken about postcards before. They are a must. Hand them out as you are speaking to fellow writers. Postcards can hold much more information than a business card, they are also harder to lose. To learn more about postcards, click here.

6. Dress comfortably. Yes, you want to look professional, but you also want to feel comfortable. No one likes to feel as if they're in a straight jacket the entire day! Wear comfortable shoes. If the conference is being held during the spring or winters months, have a jacket on hand in case one or more of the rooms are a bit cooler than you expect. I can't tell you how many times I have been eating lunch or dinner, or have sat down to hear a terrific presentation, only to feel a cold chill running up my arms.

7. Not all speakers are of the same quality, nor are they always the sort of speaker in terms of delivery or subject matter that you first envisioned. I have had to leave particular classes because either I was terribly bored, or the subject matter just wasn't what I expected. But this is a tough one. Have you ever been speaking and had someone leave your class? How did it make you feel? Before you decide to stand up and step out, make equally sure you've given the speaker more than just a couple of minutes to convince you that he/she is not your cup of tea.

Enjoying a conference to the fullest takes some planning on your part. Along with registering early (something I neglected to mention) make sure that you take the classes you want; not necessarily the classes your friend wants. If you come with a writer friend, make sure that you discuss the needs you both have as writers, and don't be afraid to take one or more classes on your own if you have to.

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