Hello, fellow writer!
Another way to phrase this title is, “You Just Finished a Writers Conference. Now What?”
At a conference, your mind fills with visions of submitting requested material. Then there is the looking forward to applying all you learned. And let’s not forget firming up the networks you started with other writers.
Yes, this is all true and wonderful.
The word for what happens next is REALITY. It’s what happens when you walk in the door to your home.
Reality starts with the unpacking and sorting laundry rather than business cards. Reality is watering the droopy and thirsty gardens after several days of being away. And you’re amazed at how quickly the lawn grew. If you have a swimming pool, you’re faced immediately with adding water, checking chemical levels, cleaning leaves and other debris.
If you have pets, they’re running to meet you, ecstatic you’re home, yet giving you the look that sends waves of guilt over you because you left them.
Kids want to be hugged, chattering about what they did while you were gone, or snitching on their siblings.
Your spouse is waiting for the chaos to simmer down so they can welcome you home and have some special time with you.
And you might say to yourself, “Wait. Was the conference a dream? Did I imagine all that good stuff?” The calendar reminds you it’s been a few days since you’ve been home.
My advice is for you to take control of what happens next.
First, reconnect with God. Do this before you do anything else. You’re going to need his presence, his wisdom, his peace, and his direction as you ponder your writing and your return to reality.
Make the time to settle into your real world. Spend time with your spouse, with your kids, with your animals. Listen as they share their adventures. The priority here is to reconnect with the most important and most valuable people in your life. Make time to adjust to normal life with its routines and chores and relationships. Especially the relationships. Those relationships are what will get you through the challenges, the defeats, and the victories of your writing journey.
Perhaps at the conference, an agent or editor asked for a proposal or a query letter or chapters of the story you’ve labored over for years. Many years ago, one of the top agents in the country told us at a conference if this happens to you—Great! Celebrate it! But don’t send it as soon as you get home. If you send it shortly after the conference, it will be waiting for the agent/editor when they get into the office, along with everything else that came in while they were away. Your submission may get lost in the volume of material they will need to sort through.
Wait and make it the best you can. What you send is what the agent or editor will base their decision on. If it takes weeks or months for you to make it the best you can, let it take weeks or months. Don’t sweat the time. Focus on preparing the best material you can.
The same with applying all you learned. Put it aside for a few days. Then go through it one class at a time and decide what, if anything, is still useful to you and your writing. Sift through and glean the gems and nuggets that will improve your story and help you grow into a better writer.
For networking with all your new friends and writing partners, follow the same pattern. Give them time to settle into their own reality. Reach out gradually. Check out their website, their blog, their social media presence. Ask God for guidance—Lord, is this someone you want me to build a relationship with?
These are some nuggets I’ve learned over many conferences. I pray you find them helpful.
A question for you: What have you found most helpful in returning from a conference?