Fall is time for many to start thinking of going to a writer's conference. After attending one this past weekend it occurred to me that a smaller conference can have just as much impact as a national one. Maybe you've read blog posts and articles about the benefits of the many conferences held around the country and thought "wow, wish I could afford to attend one."
Well you can.
The conference I just attended was a "mini" conference for the Pa Chapter of ACFW. It was a jam packed day of workshops, meeting an expert in the industry and even presenting a workshop myself.
The first way to get your money's worth out of conference takes planning. If the conference you want to attend is a yearly event put the event into your budget. My husband and I agree that for right now we can afford one national conference a year. The trick is choosing which of the wonderful events there are to make preparations. If you can't afford a larger event than choose one locally and save money and expenses on time, travel and housing.
Another way to get to that dream conference is to save a little bit of money a week. Or pick up an extra job editing, writing or managing another writer's social media until the time you can attend. when I was home raising my girls I did some extra child care and editing on the side.
If you are concerned about putting out the finances into an investment that won't pay off short term, than look at it this way, you are stewarding a gift that God gave you. Maybe the cash pay offs will be in the future but certainly it's a way of advancing your career. Look into the possibility of going on scholarship. Many groups have them available.
Often I have heard things like 'art doesn't pay enough to support yourself.' There are always naysayers when you are pursuing any dream. If God made you an artist, writer, singer/songwriter than go for it. He can provide and supply all you need to meet that goal and dream. Any worthwhile endeavor in life takes hard work and is not always easy. But the rewards far outweigh every sacrifice you make.
My dad, one of my biggest supporters, said to me after reading my blog this summer, "Kelly whatever happened to your writing career?" I'd been hard pressed to do the discipline of every day putting words down on a page and he knew it. It took me looking at his tear- filled eyes to get moving again on the process of walking in my destiny as a writer.
Since then, I have written an article for an online digital magazine, worked with my crit partners to bringing my One Sheet and other information up to date for my manuscript. And that leads me to the third way to get the most out of your conference experience. Prepare for the time you will have there by researching the agents, authors and editors who are making themselves available to you. Check out the speakers websites to see if the workshop will benefit the direction you are going.
Have a business card (I've used vistaprint the last three years), a one sheet for your work in progress, and have a game plan for the goals you want to reach for that experience. Believe me it will be far more gratifying to see some of your goals crossed off the list when you are done.
Fourthly, plan for some time to recoup from the experience. Although I was only gone two days this last trip, it took me two days to recoup physically and to get back on track with my schedule at home.
And, finally, enjoy. Meet new people, take in the information and don't worry if you can't assimilate it all at once. There will be plenty of time to sort through the resources you've acquired when you get home.
Though trying I'm sure for many introverted writers, I've had conferences that have overwhelmed me too. Just being away from home especially if someone in my family is going through a difficulty is really hard for me.
One trip I took seemed impossible because my mama's heart was so sore, but, the people I was with understood and it turned out to be one of the best conferences I've been to yet.
What are some upcoming conferences you would like to attend? What are some things you can do now to prepare to have a successful time?