Good morning writers, or afternoon on the east coast. 🙂
Sorry that I missed yesterday. I’ll be honest, it’s getting a little overwhelming as I’m creating courses for writers, shooting videos and posting them on YouTube and keeping up with social media, but I’m still planning to be here every Monday and Tuesday for sure.
Monday Motivation & Tuesday Tips
So please excuse my absence yesterday.
Today I wanted to give you some quick and easy tips for attending a writing conference.
I know so for so many it can be really scary, especially if it’s your first one. This is totally normal, trust me on this. I am an extreme extrovert and it’s still overwhelming at times and when I started? I wanted to hide in the corner and not talk to anyone.
It’s hard because you are putting yourself out there and that is terrifying.
I always think back to the film BACK TO THE FUTURE
And this is something that literally SHAPED me as a teen. I saw that and it changed everything for me. I had been acting and performing in musicals, and I was in band and dance so I was on stage a lot and sometimes was completely horrible–I’m 100% sure of it, but I always did think “what if they don’t like me?” then I saw this movie and I felt better.
If Marty feels this way and someone wrote him as a character then we all must feel this way and BOOM! My perspective shifted—for the most part.
Then cut to many years later and I’ve been published, spoken at screenwriting conferences, attended many and I was going to my first children’s book conference with three unsuccessful adult/mainstream fiction books under my belt and I felt like everyone would see that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I didn’t have a fancy degree or MFA in writing, I came from acting & animation, so I didn’t belong.
I remember like it was yesterday being in my hotel room at the Hyatt in Century City and changing my outfit 6 times. I remember texting friends to make sure that I didn’t walk down alone. I remember being terrified.
Then I ran into someone who I didn’t know was going to be there and she invited me to coffee and BOOM, it all went away. I quickly realized that these were my people-my colleagues–they were just like me. Sure some were further along on their journey but for the most part, they were me.
Conferences are great for many reasons. I joke that I go to them to socialize, but I go for many reasons, seeing my friends from all over the country and the world is just a bonus. I also get craft, networking, and submission information. Although that last part hasn’t really helped me because I usually come out of the craft and critique sessions with 6 months of revisions but the networking is amazing. You also can learn so much about the industry and how it’s changing.
I highly recommend going to them if you can afford it. It’s worth it.
I made a video that drops tomorrow on YouTube about it so please check it out and meanwhile take the tips in the image I posted and enjoy yourself.
I’m always around for help if you are feeling overwhelmed or nervous.
Also on Twitter and other social media so many of us have posted articles and things like that about going to them.
From an article that I wrote in 2015 for the SCBWI Los Angeles blog-it was for that children’s book conference but all the rules apply to any writing conference in any genre.
THINGS TO DO
- Be yourself – be genuine, kind, courteous and thoughtful.
- Choose your breakouts/workshops based on your interests and desires, not just what your friends are doing. You signed up so make the most of it. You can meet your friends between them, and sit with them for keynotes, hang out at night. It’s great to be together, but this is your time.
- Show up on time to everything – it’s professional. Remember you only get to make a first impression once.
- Be open to critiques in the intensives, portfolio show, first pages, or anything where your work may be read or shown.
- Introduce yourself to someone, or many people, whom you have never met before.
- Do unto others – remember that? Treat others how you want to be treated – with respect, kindness, and consideration.
- Say THANK YOU a lot.
- Remember that everyone there is just like you, so ignore those feelings of “OMG, he/she wrote best selling novels so I am not worthy!” etc. You are just like them, they are just like you. Think of them as colleagues. They will be someday.
- Be excited to talk about yourself and your work, but without bragging, or selling.
- Be humble.
- Make real connections with people who you really like.
- Talk about things other than your work.
- Get, and hand out business cards, phone numbers and emails.
- Dress comfortably and stay hydrated.
Writing conferences are a great place to learn your craft, be inspired, and make life long connections. Be ready to have fun. If you are a shy person, like so many artists and writers, try not to be intimidated by the number of people there. It’s okay to talk to authors, agents, editors, and artists who you like. Just be aware of their time. So no pitching in the bathrooms, etc. Talk to people in pairs. If you have a more confident friend, ask them if it’s okay to hang with them, and/or get introduced to someone through them.
The art of the SCHMOOZE
If there is a gala, happy hour, or dinner/lunch you can meet tons of people in an organic way. Just be genuine, happy, and gracious all the time, and you can’t go wrong.
Don’t forget to tune into my YouTube channel and subscribe–this week, I am talking about this very thing in a short fun video!
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