This past weekend, many of my writing friends gathered in Nashville for the annual American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. After four days of craft classes, agent/editor appointments and connecting with old and new friends, most are waking up at home today ready to attack their WIP with renewed vigor.
Not likely! Their brains are mush from all the information they’ve heard over the last several days yet they’re dying to use it in their own writing. But I have some suggestions—four to be exact.
Getting some rest is most likely not your top priority after returning home after a conference but it should be. Consider this: since the moment you decided to go, you’ve been hard at work. Whether it’s writing or rewriting your sample chapters, designing your business cards, combing over the conference schedule and picking out the perfect classes, making up one sheets—you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into those four days. During the conference, you’re involved in an intense study of the craft.
Now it’s time to rest. Everything you’ve learned will still be there after a couple of good days of rest. So sleep. Watch a movie. Spend time with your family. Give your brain and your body a rest—You deserve it!
Writers are usually voracious readers but reading after attending a writer’s conference may have an unexpected advantage. It might help you retain the information you’ve learned. When you read, you see real life examples of the information you’ve learned during class. For me, listening to books on my iPod is especially helpful. By making the connection between what you write and what you’ve learned, your chances of retaining it are better.
Despite your best efforts, you’re not going to remember everything thing you’ve heard over the last few days. But if you can retain one item that revolutionizes your writing, that’s worth the price of the conference alone! It's that 'ah-ha' moment that you just don't forget. I’ve gone to many conference over the last twenty years and while the classes on craft have helped me along the way, it’s those little tidbits that have changed the way I look at my writing that I remember most. One year, I took away the need for a daily word count. Another was Jim Rubert’s class point of shocking the Brocca in marketing. Yet another was Karen Witemeyer’s class on giving the reader more than they expect. All of these helped me become a more well-rounded writer.
While you still in the afterglow of conference, you need to reach out and thank those agents/editors/mentors you met with during the conference. Remember, these folks have taken time out of their busy lives to meet and give you encouragement in your dream of writing for publication. If you think your conference was busy, these people are in constant movement from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Even their most private moments like dinner or going to the restroom get interrupted by overzealous writers. So please, drop them a small note to let them know how much you appreciate their work.
Patty Smith Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour and currently serves as treasurer of the ACFW-North Georgia chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her new release, The Marshall’s Lady is available on Amazon.