Writing Conference 101


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It has been a week since my annual writing conference. It has taken me this long to have all the conference workshops marinate in my mind. This year I was in 2 minds whether I would even be attending this year’s conference. It all came down to the cost. Could I afford to splurge on the writing conference? Would the workshops be valuable to my writing? But in the end, I decided to attend because two favourite authors were going to be key-note speakers. There were also a few agents and editors that I was looking forward to meeting. On top of that, I knew that the weekend would be worth it because I would be sharing the weekend with my writing partner and close friend. I was also influenced by other online writer friends who had just recently attended writing conferences and been completely inspired by them. After a hard two months of work to finish up both my current WIP and editing my writing partners’ WIPs, I was looking forward to some fresh inspiration. There are great advantages to being a full-time writer but I found that I had disappeared into my writing cave and needed some vitamin A in the form some writing workshops.

I had attended conference last year so was a little more prepared this year. Things are always better the second time around. Recently I had been asked whether I thought writing conferences were necessary for writers to attend. My answer was: Yes. But it got me thinking that sometimes you need a helping hand before going to a conference. So I have put together my list of Writing Conference Necessities/Requirements 101. Some of these I adhered to, some I wish I had, some I wish others had. Ah, the value of hindsight.

Writing Conferences 101

  1. Be Prepared.
  2. Choose your list of workshops you want to attend before arriving at the conference.
  3. If you have the opportunity to pitch your WIP – take the chance. Even if nothing comes of it, it will be great experience to have a face-to-face pitch session.
  4. Make sure you catch up on all your sleep before the conference.
  5. Check with the hotel if you can have an early check-in before the conference starts, that way you can settle in to your room without having to carry a whole lot of bags around.
  6. In the same vein, check with the hotel if you can have a late check-out on the last day of the conference: You will need it. By the last day, you are pretty heavy on your feet from all the stimulation and it is a good idea to be able to still have a bed to go lie down in or your own bathroom to freshen up in.
  7. If you have been given books by the keynote speakers and want them autographed, carry them around with you right in the beginning of the conference and ask the authors to sign them as soon as you get a chance. Not all conferences have signing times scheduled in. On top of that, some authors/keynote speakers do not remain for the whole conference and it would be a shame to miss out.
  8. Mingle, Mingle, Mingle. It is so easy to get all clicky at conferences and hang out only with the people you know. But there may be a quite a few newbies there who don’t want to intrude on your little cliques so help make them feel welcome.
  9. Ask questions. This is your time to have a 101 with your favourite author or mentor. Take the opportunity to ask them questions. You may not get the chance again. 
  10. Buy bottled water and take it with you to the hotel. Saves on using the hotel mini-bar and will save you from dehydration from hotel air-conditioning.
  11. Check your room temperature before going to sleep. Hotels notoriously crank up the heat in the evenings in hotel room. This may just save you from a very uncomfortable night.
  12. Take your own pens and paper. I keep a conference notebook that I started for last year’s conference and continued you with this year. Also, the hotel pens are not always the best.
  13. Talk to other writers and ask them what they do,besides writing. You will find out the most fascinating things. I met a writer there who is qualified as an embalmer. Believe me the ideas started by that were endless.
  14. Print up some business cards. Easy to hand out to people and keep in touch. (Failed to do this, even though this is one thing I wanted to do. Next time.)
  15. If you get the chance, talk to the keynote speakers outside of just the workshops. These are some conversations that can really motivate you and can also be easier for the keynote speaker as they are more relaxed and have no time/subject restrictions hindering them.
  16. If there are workshops you want to attend but they clash with another you are already attending, get yourself a conference buddy and ask if they would be interested in switching notes for workshops you both did not get to attend.
  17. If there is a cocktail event, make sure you wear comfortable shoes. These are usually standing events and you might be standing there for hours. Take it from me, you will want comfortable shoes ladies.
  18. Make sure you know what times your pitches are and in what rooms they are. If you are not sure, ask one of the conference organizers. Pitch appointments are times when you want to be your most prepared and professional.
  19. Keep an eye on the pitch appointments. You may find that someone cancels and you can slot in their appointment even if you had not got a pitch with the agent or editor in question. (My writing partner did this and she got full requests from that pitch. So take the chance if you get the chance.)
  20. Make sure you get to the dining areas quickly. Most conferences are buffet  and if you get there late, you may be waiting a very long time in line for some food.

 

I will be posting a few more posts over the next few days about the workshops I attended so keep your eye on this space. 

What are you favourite conference 101 tips?

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2 Comments

  1. An awesome list of fabulous tips, Kimmi. I can’t wait to come conferencing with you two. Fingers crossed for next years if I can possibly drag myself away from family life. Will just have to wait and see. Love the post – and I’ll make sure I follow all of your tips!

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