During the 2019 Florida Writing Workshop in Tampa, I met other writers, the number one reason to attend a writing conference. Some of these writers were self-published, some told me they had 100,000 friends on Facebook, a few taught seminars and offered their books for sale, others were agents who were looking for their next star. I mingled with memoir writers, YA writers, romance writers, children book writers, new writers, seasoned writers, writer presenters, writer agents, and writers of technical work. And this was in one day.
More Reasons for Attending a Conference
Renewed incentive to write, clarity, and honesty with myself about my writing are more reasons for attending a conference.
What did I do the morning after attending a writing conference? I worked on my novel. I meant my memoir. Wait. Haven’t I been writing about my memoir? True. In-person dialog with an agent-publisher changed my perspective temporarily. A few days later, after meditation and some soul searching, I confirmed without a shadow of a doubt, I’m writing a memoir.
During the conference other writers asked me what I’m writing. That question illustrated I wasn’t clear about my why. Now I’m clear.
Lunch with writers in the conference was heightened by the side connections made with conversations at the adjoining table. The energy in the room reverberated throughout my arms and hands.
Furthermore, my tweets before and during the conference enabled me to recognize fellow writers and presenters. These digital connections made it easier to start an in-person conversation. Speakers and participants noted the consensus that Twitter is an excellent platform for writers. After all, Twitter was originally a place you could only write and write succinctly. Now it allows photos and adding more characters by commenting on the original tweet. The conference encouraged attendees to use the Twitter hashtag, #flaww, to find one another and tweet our experiences. Furthermore, I continued to use this hashtag when posting related tweets days after the conference.
Kimiko Nakamura of Writing Day Workshops coordinated, sent update emails, manned one of the registration tables and kept everything running smoothly. Members of a local writing group Tampa Writers Alliance helped wherever needed. Alliance representatives shared information about their get-togethers, critiques and poetry nights at a local Barnes and Noble. For me, the 90 minute drive didn’t appeal. Rather, it heightened my interest of making more in-person connections who were closer to my home. As a result, my contact list includes two new writers to meet long after the conference.
What to Bring to Any Conference
Bring your enthusiasm, your willingness to walk up to a stranger and introduce yourself, your ability to listen, note taking material, and your business cards. That little piece of paper may sound archaic, but it is essential when you only have less than a minute to make a personal connection. And it’s a great way to end a conversation.
“Here’s my business card. May I have one of yours?”
The second sentence, asking for theirs, is key. Then you have the ability to continue the conversation, learn more, broaden your platform through social media connections, and grow your community.
Following Up After the Conference
Review your notes. Highlight anything that stands out. Now act on it.
Gather up the business cards you collected.
Follow, friend, email, phone, connect.
Write. Write. Write.