Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writers Conference Tips

Check back here every Wednesday for a few thoughts on the craft. Here are today's:

Wednesday's Writing on Writing...

Take it from one who has been to dozens of writers conferences over the last nearly 40 years in capacities ranging from first-time attendee to speaker: there are ways to maximize your experience.

I hope you’re planning to come to the Christian Writers Guild’s Writing for the Soul™ conference in Denver in February [featuring Philip Yancey (left) and Max Lucado (below); check out the details at], but regardless where you go, you’ll be happier and more productive if you follow a few simple guidelines:

1. Plan your itinerary carefully and don’t include errands and intermediate stops that may make you late or wonder if you’ll be late. There’s enough pressure at a conference without adding to it.
2. Get as much sleep as possible the night before you leave home; it may be the last time you get enough for a few days. You’ll need every ounce of energy you can store.

3. Plan to arrive with time to spare so you don’t have to start running as soon as you show up. Leave time to settle in, gather your materials, find the meeting rooms, and get ready to learn.

4. You’ll stay up late enough with the scheduled activities, so resist the urge to stay up even later, despite all the new friends and acquaintances. If you’re a zombie by day two, you’ll regret it.

5. Choose your workshops carefully and buy recordings of the ones you hate to miss. If you need to skip one for a nap or an appointment with an editor or speaker, do it.

6. Bring a little more money than you think you need. If you still have it by the end of the conference, reward yourself by buying that extra book or resource you didn’t expect to find.

7. Don’t trust your memory. Take lots of notes and, if a speaker particularly inspires you, buy the recording , too. It’s a small investment for an experience you can re-live whenever you want to.

8. Bring business cards that include your address, phone, and email address. Be prepared to exchange cards with many new friends.

9. When meeting with an editor or speaker, be prepared, plan to make just a point or two, and do a lot of listening.

Writers conferences are almost always feasts for the senses, but it’s easy to overload. Everything is new and unforgettable, until you try to rehearse it in your mind on the way home.

Free time is built in, so strive to make every general session. Often the speaker you’ve never heard of turns out to be your favorite.

Hope to see you in February.


Jaymie said...

Are recordings available for those who can't make it or only for attendees?

Jerry Jenkins said...

Available to all.

dabney said...

Thanks for the tips. I needed this.