As many of you know, two weeks ago I attended BRMCWC. It was definitely a God thing. Between our house’s continual troubles this spring and our little one’s pending arrival in August, we needed the chips to fall in place so to speak. And one by one, whether financial or work related, God opened doors.
I say all that because it’s hard not to walk away from a professional conference with expectations. You arrive home thinking things will be different. The conference has transformed you and your thinking, and in many ways, it’s difficult to dive back into the routine of day to day. How can we, as writers, make the most of the sessions we attended, the pitches we gave, and the relationships we’ve built?
1. Have realistic expectations. Most of the writers you encountered at the conference desire to get published. This is a competitive industry—it’s a business—and viewing the world through unrealistic lenses can cause rejection and failure to feel personal. It’s not. Strap on your big kid pants and get back to learning and growing. That’s why you attended conference in the first place.
2. Take time to absorb. You may need a day or two to reorganize your thoughts. For me, I scheduled a week of post-conference recovery. Believe it or not, you will return tired. Your brain endeavored into a world of work while you sat through classes, met fellow writers, and attempted to cross into uncharted waters for your writing career. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed. It’s normal to need some time, but set limits on that freedom. At some point in the not too distant future, you need to apply what you’ve learned. Get back to writing. Return to life.
3. Organize your papers. You will have a stack. Whether documents from class notes, your own personal scribbled notepad, or business cards from the contacts you’ve met, take the time to piece together what you’ve learned. We’ll explore how to utilize those business cards more next week, but for now, keep them nearby. Reread the notes you’ve taken. Decide how you’ll apply the methods and lessons taught during classes.
Conferences make a wonderful addition to your writing resume, but simply attending isn’t enough to make the most of your experience. As with many professions, there’s work to be done on both ends of a writing conference. Don’t return home and waste the time you spent. Utilize it to make the most of your career.