Writing Conference Survival Guide

The countdown for the 2015 Romance Writers of America conference is on. July can’t get here fast enough.

Probably just as well considering there’s still so much to do. If this is your first time attending a conference (or this one in particular), there are a few things you need to know to survive the experience without losing your sanity.

-Wear comfortable but dressy shoes. I added the last bit because I don’t want you to think you can wear sneakers. Sorry, honey. You still need to dress like a professional.

-Bring a sweater. Remember, it’ll be warm outside, so dress for the weather, but have a sweater nearby in case it’s cool inside. You never know if the person in charge of regulating the temperature in the conference rooms is paying attention or not. Or maybe she really hated that the author presenting that particular workshop killed off her favorite character so she cranks the air conditioner to seek revenge. Or she turns it off and everyone roasts. Be prepared for both scenarios.

-Have snacks in your bag. Believe it or not, paying attention while sitting through workshop after workshop is hard work. You need to refuel every so often to keep your mind alert. RWA supplies water and sometimes coffee, but your belly wants some num nums too.

-Don’t attend a workshop in every slot. (Says the biggest workshop whore there is. Hey, I lurv workshops. I can’t help it.) Do as I say, not as I do. Attending as many workshops as your schedule will allow will burn you out. Fast. Instead, plan some downtime. This might be time alone in your hotel room. Or maybe you want to hang out with friends. After all, conferences are great networking opportunities. Take advantage. Or you might want to drop by a book signing and grab some free books.

-Buy the workshop audio clips. They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth it. I used to attend the workshops and try to write EVERYTHING down. Exhausting! I couldn’t enjoy the presentation. It was all about not missing a single word. Now, I can actually sit back and listen to the presenter. If I don’t absorb everything, I’ll play the audio clip later.

-Plan your schedule in advance. RWA has already released the workshop schedule, so you can start planning which workshops you’ll attend, when you’ll have lunch, and when you can meet up with friends. It’s surprisingly difficult to meet up with friends if you don’t plan ahead.

-Don’t forget to allow time for lunch. Workshops times are set so that you have a few minutes to get from one room to the next, but there’s no actual break for lunch. It’s up to you do decide which workshop you’ll miss so you can grab some chow.

What advice would you give a new conference attendee?

Editing availability update: I have one substantive/big picture editing aka developmental editing slot open July 28. Book it now.

Blogging schedule update: My next blog post will be published June 2. “See” you then!

Lynnette Labelle

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