Ruminations of a First-Time Writer’s Conference Attendee

Rumination the First: Thou Shall Be Outgoing at a Writer’s Conference

As a man who has currently been forced to reevaluate whether or not he’s really an introvert, I found that I had surprisingly little trouble with this. As I chatted and made bumbling attempts to network, I realized more than ever before just how important these events are for establishing connections. The Indiana Faith and Writing Conference was chock-full of writers from all levels of craft, and being able to brush elbows with so many other aspiring artists and craftspeople in your field is a truly remarkable experience.

I know that it’s not easy. It’s scary to approach someone whose life you’ve brushed only the vaguest periphery of, and try to forge a connection, but try to remember—this is exactly what everyone else is there for, too! If a connection goes south, there’s no obligation to continue it, man. And if it goes well? Then you now have both a new friend and a professional contact to work with. Part of being a responsible literary citizen is helping to improve the writing and careers of those around you. Get out there and find some writer friends to pour love onto, and you’ll be amazed at the payoff.

Rumination the Second: Thou Shall Be Prepared for a Writer’s Conference

This one is a regret as much as a rumination. I went into the Indiana Faith and Writing Conference almost completely blind. And this isn’t just “Oh, I wonder what the workshops are going to be” blind. This was “Oh, apparently this conference runs two days” blind. And while I had a great time, I know that I could have made better use of my time by doing even a cursory amount of planning.

Luckily, by the second day of the conference, I was basically up to speed, and was able to navigate the sea of frenzied authors and bloggers with a fair bit more adroitness than I had on the first day.

Rumination the Third: Thou Shall Enjoy a Writer’s Conference

Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk approve

With the focus on planning and networking, it’s easy to forget that these conferences are just plain fun. The Indiana Faith and Writing Conference had dozens of workshops on anything from improving craft to online promotion to scholarly vernacular. It was a veritable smorgasbord of education.

As with most worthwhile things, you only get as much out of one of these conferences as you put in, so please, resist the urge to sit quietly in the back and slip out as soon as you can. Don’t be content to just absorb what the conference puts out. Get outside of yourself and forge the connections that will feed you when you’re broke (Because let’s be honest, it isn’t easy hacking it as a writer.)