Writing Wednesday: Tips and Tricks for Surviving Your Writers’ Conference

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Congrats! You’ve signed up to attend a writers’ conference this year. You’ve selected your workshops, paid your fees, and booked your trip. It is an exciting experience whether it’s your first time or your fifth time. Soon, you will be surrounded by people who see worlds where others see a blank page, who create characters in their heads on a regular basis, and are just as passionate about the written word as you are.

Whether you’re a conference newbie or a veteran, here are a few tips to make your conference experience the best it can be.

Print out a copy of your confirmation.

At any conference, your first stop is the registration table. You’ll sign in, get your schedule, and receive all your conference materials. In order to make sure things goes smoothly, print out a hard copy of your registration confirmation and bring it with you. This way, you’ll have proof you paid for your spot in case there is an issue, or the registration meal won’t load on your phone.

Bring some business cards.

Even if you don’t run a blog or have anything published, business cards a must for every conference attendee. You are going to be exchanging you contact information with tons of different people, and business cards offer everything your fellow writers need to know in a neat little professional-looking package. Include your name, email address, social media accounts, and blog or website url if you have one. You never who will wind up with card in their hand.

Scope out the local area.

Sure, you’ll spend most of your time in workshops and networking, but there will be periods of downtime, especially if lunch is not included. Take some time to do a little research and see what’s available around where the event is being hosted. This way you don’t end up wasting time looking for somewhere to go or end up being late for a class because you got lost.

Don’t be afraid to switch classes.

Many conferences make you preselect the workshops you want to attend when you sign up. But what if you choose a class the doesn’t feel like it’s the right fit for you? Don’t feel like you are absolutely required it stick it out. Since most workshops are included in the price of your fee, you can usually sit in on another one offered at the same time. (Check out you conference rules to see what their policy is.)

Talk to everyone.

As writers, we tend to be introverted people, but I encourage you to engage with as many people as you can. Resist the urge to spend your break times buried in a book or with your headphones on. It may feel a little intimidating at first, but push through the discomfort. You could end up making some new friends or creating some important connections that could help give your career the boost it needs.

Carry extra pens.

Pens get lost. Pens get borrowed. Pens fall to the bottom of your bag. Bring extras. Trust me. You can never have too many pens.

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