Monday, July 2, 2018

10 Pieces of Advice for Writers Conference Attendees

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference is held annually in May, and I serve as the conference manager. That's a fancy title to designate that I work very closely with the conference director and co-director.

As we made it through the first evening of the conference, I heard a variety of comments from conferees. Some stated they felt unprepared because it was their first conference. Others said they felt unprepared because of a last-minute decision to attend. And, I heard that some felt unprepared because life happened and it left them no time to prepare.

It's always good to come to a writer's conference with your business cards, pitches, proposals, and professional attire. But what's one to do if life throws a curve ball and you run out of time to prepare?

Preparing for a Writers Conference When You Run Out of Time to Prepare - 10 Tips from @AlyciaMorales #writing #writers {Click to Tweet}

1. Don't panic. It's not the end of the world to come unprepared to a writer's conference. It's an opportunity to think outside of the box. You're a creative. Use it.

2. Pray. We make our plans, but it's the Lord who directs our steps. Instead of panicking, pray. Ask Father what He would have you do. If He made a way for you to attend last minute or caught that curve ball life threw at you, He can direct you in the way you should go at the conference. Stop and ask Holy Spirit what to do. He'll answer. If you let Him.

3. Ask the professionals. It can be intimidating to walk up to an agent, editor, well-known author, or conference leadership team member and admit you were unprepared and ask for help. But guess what? We've all been there. Done that. And we have answers that can help you succeed. So, don't be afraid to ask.

4. Don't compare yourself to others. Just because she's got her business cards in hand and you don't doesn't mean she's going to be more successful than you. It's all about your attitude. If you walk in confidence (not cockiness), you too have a chance at succeeding, business cards or no business cards. People remember confidence.

5. Network. It's possible to do so without something to hand over to someone. Again, people remember confidence in a person. They remember kindness. Encouragement. Prayer. Interesting stories. You can do all of these things without having a piece of paper in hand. Build relationships while you're at the conference. You can always send the proposal later.

6. Memorize your pitch. Keep it short and sweet. It doesn't take long to memorize a less-than-36-word pitch. Even if you don't have a word written, it's better to have something to offer than nothing at all. If you're attending the conference, you have something you're thinking of writing. Pitch that.

7. Try something new. Pay attention during class, take notes, and go back to your room or to the local coffeehouse and try something you learned that day. Apply a new method to your writing. Try a new technique. One year, I learned a formula for writing devotions, wrote one out on a legal pad (complete with scribbles and cross-outs and arrows to move things around), took it to the instructor, and landed my first publication on their website, which lead to publication in a devotional not long after.

8. Enjoy. There's nothing wrong with taking things in at your first conference. Or your second. Or third. Or twelfth. Sometimes it's best just to go with the flow, learn some things, and work on your writing. Meet a few new people. Have a conversation or two. And relax. There's really no need to stress yourself out because you're unprepared. You're more prepared than you may realize. And that will show itself in due time.

What advice would you have for a conferee who feels unprepared? We'd love to hear in the comments below!


  1. Alycia, good advice. Many writers have unrealistic expectations when they attend their first conference. Turn it over to God, and you'll be surprised. I was.

  2. Go to learn, network, and make new friends. Of greater importance is going to serve. The faculty and staff work sacrificially to bring us the best of the best. Some attendees have special circumstances that require them to need assistance. A cold bottle of water, a soda, a chance to run to the necessary room, a word of thanks....AND CHOCOLATE!


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