I’m heading out to a writers conference this weekend. As I started to prepare, the first thing I did was make a list. I am a terrific list person. Just love checking things off the TO DO list. Here’s a hint for number one on a list: Make a list. As soon as you write that down, you’ve started a list and there’s already one thing you can check off.
Here’s a list of five insights for preparing for a conference.
Leading up to the conference and everyday you’re there. Pray for wisdom and discernment about who to pitch to, what classes to take. Pray for God to open doors, to bring you in contact with people who can help you become a better writer. They could be agents, editors, teachers, other attendees who can offer encouragement and inspiration. He can put you in touch with others you can bless with a kind word. His plan may include reaching out to another writer to give support and encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, an oomph for him and her not to give up on their dream. It may include celebrating with them. Pray for openness to see who he would have you minister to.
Especially if you’re flying or traveling a great distance. During the week before the conference, make sure you get plenty of sleep. There is always the temptation, as the conference draws near, to cram in more activities to get ready, to do more edits of your synopsis and sample chapters. Last minute changes probably won’t make it better and will only crank up your anxiety.
Enjoy time with your family before you leave. Take in a movie. Go out to dinner. Agree to talk about anything but the conference.
Nervousness will gnaw like a dog on a chew toy. Don’t give in to it.
For pitching. Double check the conference and agent/editor guidelines.
For networking. Business cards and an attitude of looking forward to meeting new people and renewing friendships.
For learning. Double check the classes and workshops. Select those that address where you want to go next with your writing.
For the unexpected:
- Meeting rooms may be too hot or too cold
- Meals: do you have special diet needs or are you seriously watching your weight?
- Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (pain relievers, Tums, etc.)
- I always carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer because we just never know. And that’s all I’m going to say about that
Before you go and each day of the conference, make time to relax. Either physical activity or a time out. Even if it means missing a class or workshop session. Could be a walk outside, a shopping trip, or a nap.
5. Realistic Expectations
As you prepare for the conference, ask yourself what you expect to accomplish there. While it happens on rare occasions, you’re probably not going to leave the conference with a book contract. If your goal is to have an agent when you leave, it may not happen. There are too many variables you can’t control. Maybe leaving with one request for a proposal or a full manuscript will give you the charge you need to keep going. Focus on making the best presentation you can.
Give yourself permission to not be perfect.
What are some things you do to prepare for a conference? What’s been the most helpful?