Writers Conference Essentials

What are the most important things you bring?IMG_7508 adj 2to3

by Andy Scheer

I’ve been prepping for this weekend’s writers conference since 1988. While I still haven’t nailed the process, I think I’m getting better–at getting ready.

I’ll be teaching, so my preparations are a little different from those of conferees. I don’t have to decide which class to attend. But this past summer I had to revise and submit my session outlines. This week, I’ll run through my slide presentations one more time.

Instead of hoping to deliver a flawless elevator speech, I get to mark up some seriously flawed first pages in such a way that the people in my editing class will learn to be more effective self-editors. Given the challenge of condensing into fours hours what I’ve learned in four decades, I’m antsy.

As a safely valve for that nervous energy, I resort to excessive planning.

For every conference, I customize the standard itinerary I keep on my computer. Besides flight numbers and times, I list three sets of information:

  • what I’ll wear and the main items I’ll carry in my pockets (phone, flash drive, mints, that day’s pills)
  • what I’ll take in my briefcase
  • what I’ll pack in my suitcase

For each conference I modify the list. My Kindle recently died, so I won’t need to pack it and its charger. But I’ll need a paperback in my briefcase, and another in my suitcase. Depending on how full my suitcase, I’ll take either a compact Bible or one that’s tiny.

The hotel has coffee makers in the rooms, so I won’t need my travel coffee pot—just a supply of ground coffee and filters.

My list helps me remember little necessities
such as chargers, spare eyeglasses,
and enough clean socks.

My list helps me remember little necessities such as chargers, spare eyeglasses, and enough clean socks. Later this week I’ll check the forecast to see if I can omit an umbrella and rain coat

I long ago decided not to bother with a camera. But since many places have microwaves, sometimes I’ll bring a pouch of popcorn. Rather than try to find lunch at the airport, I often bring frozen slices of Little Caesar’s pizza in a ziplock bag. (That’s another reason to remember those mints.)

Once I’ve been to Writer to Writer in Murfreesboro, I’ll have a better idea of what I need to bring . . . the next time.

About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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