Monday, April 24, 2017

Five Things To Do After a Writers' Conference

By Andrea Merrell

You’ve just returned from a writers' conference. You’ve invested your time, energy, and money. Your head is overflowing with information that needs to be processed. What should you do next?

After attending conferences for the past ten years, here are five things I’ve found most helpful.

Breathe
The first item on your agenda should be to stop, take a deep breath, and allow your mind and body to decompress. Writing conferences can be exhilarating and exhausting, especially when they’re longer than a couple of days. After attending my very first conference, my mind was spinning with information overload, and my body was spent. I had so many notes, handouts, and business cards, I didn’t know what to do with them. Treat yourself to a nap or a trip to Starbucks. Visit with a friend or fellow writer and share your experience with them. Taking a break will allow you time to get your thoughts in order before you tackle the tasks ahead of you.

Network
Go through the business cards you collected while names and faces are still fresh in your mind. Connect with these folks on social media. Visit their website or blog and leave a comment. Subscribe to their posts. E-mail someone you made a connection with, and keep in touch. Send a thank-you to those who were helpful and encouraging. Networking is all about establishing a relationship with others in the industry.

You never know when God will give you a kingdom connection, and you never know how it might come. He may surprise you with those He chooses to pour into your life and help you move forward. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

Study Your Notes
Writing is a lifelong learning process. Go over your notes and put what you learned into practice. Don’t file those notes away and forget about them. Think of it as continuing education for writers. If you have questions, brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes were recorded and you purchased the MP3s or digital downloads, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

Get Back to Work
Whatever you’re working on—devotion, article, essay, fiction, or nonfiction—get back to work while you’re still excited and motivated by what you gleaned from the conference. Once you’ve read through your notes or listened to the recorded classes, put that new information into action. Maybe you learned how to craft great dialogue or how to write with deep POV. Perhaps you picked up some unique marketing techniques or valuable resources. Be sure to take the time to check those out.

Follow-Up
If you met with an editor, agent, or publisher and they asked you to send them a proposal or a few chapters of your work in progress, do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked for writing samples at a conference and never received them. Conferences are the best way to get your writing foot in the door. If the professional you met with was not interested in you and your project, they would not have asked you to send them a sample.

Bottom Line
Writing conferences are vital to your writing career. The best advice I ever received as a newbie was to “join a critique group, attend writers’ conferences, and network, network, network.” I took that advice and have never regretted it for one moment.

Whatever you do—before, during, and after the conference—be ready. Whenever you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

What about you? What have you found helpful after you return from a conference? We would love to hear from you.


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2 comments:

  1. For me, follow through was, and still is, the biggest. Going as a newbie a couple of years ago, I didn't really believe my writing was good enough to be published. But I followed through with sending my first devotions out, and when they were accepted, I realized God did have a place for my work. Had I not followed through, I might never have know for sure. I also learned, that if I can't make a conference, their resources that can be purchased are invaluable. I have many CD's that I've purchased that have helped tremendously when it did not work out for me to attend a conference financially. Thanks for sharing Andrea.

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    1. Follow-through is so important, Sheryl. It saddens me to think about all the good writers who neglected to submit requested material because they didn't think it was good enough. Everyone has to start somewhere, and we never know until we try. When someone asks to see more of your work, that's a good sign, whether they accept it or not ... especially if they give you feedback on how to make it better. Thanks so much for your thoughts. :)

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