Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to be a loner. I love my quiet time. Me and a cup of tea alone with my MacBook — that’s my idea of a good time. But I can’t do that all the time. Sometimes I have to get out there into the big, wide, crowded world and meet people.
A writing conference can look scary to an introvert like me, but it can be more than a necessary evil. Here are some tips not just for surviving, but thriving at a writing conference.
1. Take care of yourself
As in anything, you’ll be better able to face a challenge if you’re at your best. Getting a good sleep, eating healthy, and taking time to exercise will help you prepare a good foundation for three days of socializing.
2. Get alone
This might go without saying, but sometimes it’s hard when we’re in a situation where every moment counts to give ourselves permission to withdraw. Consider this your permission. Even if you only take five minutes every hour or two, get some time alone to recharge your batteries.
3. Be selective
There are lots of opportunities for one-on-one or small group interactions. Take those over large group settings whenever possible. Choose your conversations strategically. If you write fiction, network with fiction authors, editors, or agents. If you write non-fiction, plan accordingly. That way you aren’t using up a finite quantity of socializing energy on conversations that won’t help.
4. Distance yourself
The amount of information bombarding you at a conference can be overwhelming — especially if it involves any kind of constructive criticism. It might help to try imagining that you are taking notes for someone else. Emotionally distancing yourself from any overwhelming information and then dealing with it later privately and in smaller doses can help eliminate a big area of stress for introverts.
5. Plan to decompress
No matter how many precautions you take, no matter how much you enjoy yourself at your writing conference, you will be tired when you come home. Make plans ahead of time for some quiet alone time. Don’t plan any social events for the first couple of days back. Practice some self care and mentally process the time you spent at the conference.
Taking a few steps ahead of, during, and after the conference will make all the difference. What about you? Share your tips in the comments below.
Erin E.M. Hatton is the author of Otherworld and Across the Deep, winner of the 2014 Free Publishing Contest for Fiction. She has also authored several short stories and novellas. She graduated from Redeemer University College and lives in Barrie, Ontario with her husband Kevin and four children.
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