It’s now spring and many writers are anticipating all the conferences coming up in the next several months. A writers’ conference is a great way to to connect with other writers, learn more about the craft, and meet with publishing professionals. I have been to two conferences in my life (ACFW in 2016 and Northwestern Christian Writers Conference in 2017) and I’m hoping to make it to my third this coming fall. Thankfully, I went to both conferences with some writer buddies that have plenty of conference experience, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect. But even though I was semi-prepared, there were still some things that took me completely by surprise…
This was probably the biggest shocker for me. I’m a nobody 99% of the time and I usually prefer to keep it that way. So you can imagine my surprise when fellow conference attendees would say they’ve heard of me or recognized me after I introduced myself. But as we writers strive to build our platform on social media, the chances are pretty good that quite a few people at the conference have seen your name floating around Twitter or Facebook.
Almost every emotion can be experienced at a writers’ conference. There’s the excitement about seeing your writer buddies. Exhaustion from all the walking (seriously, it’s insane). Nervousness before you pitch. Rejection when the editor/agent isn’t interested in your story or exhilaration when they are. I was very nervous going into my first conference because it was all very new to me. For my second conference, I was still a bit nervous but more excited and eager to learn.
You know going into a conference that you’ll be around other writers. But holy cow, it really hits you when you’re there. All these people understand this weird and crazy writing life with the writer’s block, deadlines, the ups and downs, and platform building. They get it. They understand ALL of it. A conference is where introverts like me can easily make conversation because we all, at least, have one thing in common. If you enter a writers’ conference not knowing a soul, I guarantee you’ll leave the conference with a handful of business cards and an arm-load of new friends.
The After-Conference Burn-Out
I applaud any writer that comes home after a conference and jumps straight back into writing. I’ll admit that it took me about a week or so to recover after the ACFW conference. All those emotions, the walking, the socializing, and the travel came crashing down when I got home. My introvert-meter (as I call it) was completely busted. I don’t think I moved much that first day back. So don’t feel bad if you don’t jump back on the writing train when you get home, there are plenty of us in a post-conference stupor.
Your turn! What surprises did you encounter at a writers’ conference?