Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Writers Conference Essentials by Andy Scheer

What are the most important things you bring?

I’ve been prepping for this weekend’s writers conference since 1988. While I still haven’t nailed the process, I think I’m getting better--at getting ready.

I’ll be teaching, so my preparations are a little different from those of conferees. I don’t have to decide which class to attend. But this past summer I had to revise and submit my session outlines. This week, I’ll run through my slide presentations one more time.

Instead of hoping to deliver a flawless elevator speech, I get to mark up some seriously flawed first pages in such a way that the people in my editing class will learn to be more effective self-editors. Given the challenge of condensing into fours hours what I’ve learned in four decades, I’m antsy.

As a safely valve for that nervous energy, I resort to excessive planning.

For every conference, I customize the standard itinerary I keep on my computer. Besides flight numbers and times, I list three sets of information:
• what I’ll wear and the main items I’ll carry in my pockets (phone, flash drive, mints, that day’s pills)
• what I’ll take in my briefcase
• what I’ll pack in my suitcase

For each conference I modify the list. My Kindle recently died, so I won’t need to pack it and its charger. But I’ll need a paperback in my briefcase, and another in my suitcase. Depending on how full my suitcase, I’ll take either a compact Bible or one that’s tiny.

The hotel has coffee makers in the rooms, so I won’t need my travel coffee pot—just a supply of ground coffee and filters.

My list helps me remember little necessities such as chargers, spare eyeglasses, and enough clean socks. Later this week I’ll check the forecast to see if I can omit an umbrella and rain coat.

I long ago decided not to bother with a camera. But since many places have microwaves, sometimes I’ll bring a pouch of popcorn. Rather than try to find lunch at the airport, I often bring frozen slices of Little Caesar’s pizza in a ziploc bag. (That’s another reason to remember those mints.)

Once I’ve been to Writer to Writer in Murfreesboro, I’ll have a better idea of what I need to bring . . . the next time.


Diana Flegal said...

Great informative post Andy. It does take years to prepare and yet we are always preparing :-)

Karen Nolan Bell said...

As an attendee, who is also health and mobility challenged, I learned after my first conference that I must be prepared. I have lists on my computer of every item I need for each conference I attend. As I pack, I print out the list and check off the items. I even take a photo of my accommodations each time so I'll remind myself of any inconveniences or bonuses (like no hand-held shower head or a microwave). I'm not obsessive, just trying to insure my experience will be more positive than challenging. You pointed out some helpful tips I can use. Thanks.

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

Diana: Every time I visit a garage sale, I check if there's a fabric, over-the-shoulder briefcase that will be better suited to toting my mini computer and several file folders filled with conference session handouts.

Karen: It's good to see I'm not the only one who makes a list and checks it more than twice.