You’ll need more than business cards and comfy shoes.
Soon I’ll load the car to drive to one of my favorite writers conferences. I hope to see you at there.
If you’ve never attended a conference, or haven’t had good experiences, I’d like to suggest a few items you may not think to bring.
Flexibility. Unless you live next door, attending means travel — and the potential for interruptions and inconveniences. Give yourself plenty of time. And take notes on what goes wrong. Those could become anecdotes for your next writing project. Years ago, an article suggested devoting your commute time to prayer. Try that en route.
Hospitality. This week a friend posted on social media about visiting a small church and not being greeted. So she introduced herself to all the members. Other at the conference may arrive with even more anxiety than you bring. Your welcome could make a difference. Look for someone who needs a smile.
A Listening Ear. Like you, everyone at the conference has a story. And perhaps like you, they’re looking for someone to hear them out. They might even be the one resource your current project lacks — or vice versa.
A Listening Ear. Instruction from the faculty might challenge your wonderful writing. Expect not only to learn new techniques, but also to change the way you currently write.
A Listening Ear. Acquisitions editors and literary agents have reasons they say “no” or “not yet.” You’ll have a better chance of future acceptance if you consider their advice.
Inquisitiveness. Sometimes the best learning comes when you ask a question. If you’re not clear about the implications of what an instructor said, you’re likely not alone. Around meal tables, it’s always fair to ask others, “What kind of writing interests you?”
Other stuff. While you’re at it, you might also want to bring coordinated clothing, a toothbrush, a notebook, and a pen. But you don’t need me to tell you that.