A conference brings this storm swell of creative juices, and you’ll return home convinced that you are ready to conquer anything publishing throws your way. That glow will last if you’re lucky, 24 hours. A part of every conference prep should include planning for a return from the wonderful world of nothing but writers and writing to that world of diapers, bottles, teenage drivers and angst, or cranky hubbies. Whatever your daily world encompasses, it’s all waiting for you when you leave that sheltered world of the “conference”.
The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself emotionally for this return to your ‘normal world’ as Christopher Vogler describes it in The Writer’s Journey. My critique group has done this and we’ve learned new things every time. Here are suggestions for returning from the conference:
1. Hit the ground running when you get home by making time to email the contacts you made at the conference. Don’t wait. Don’t give them or yourself time to forget. If you followed advice, you wrote something memorable on the back of the business cards you collected.
2. Share what you learned. If you have a local group of writers you work with, share what you learned with them. If not, use your blog or website as a host for educating others about Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (or your conference) and writing. If your entire group attended (as our group does), it is always a good idea to debrief after conferences. Go over what went well, what didn’t, what inspired you, what frustrated you, etc. As a group, we attend different sessions to maximize our attendance, then we share what we learned with each other.
3. When you enjoy a conference and find it worthwhile, spread the word! Let others in on what’s worthwhile about it. Give them publicity. We’re all in this together so help each other out.
5. Final evaluation: upon returning you need to do a final run down of the experience. Was the conference a good one for you? Just as you did when selecting a conference return to those important questions:
a. Location: Was the location good for you? Price certainly feeds into this these days because of the price of gas.
b. Genre: Did you find the things you needed for what you write? Were there agents who represent what you write?
c. Price: Consider the costs of everything from travel to hotel to food to cost of the conference. Was it cost-effective for you?
d. Presenters: Were the presenters good? Were they speaking about things of importance to you as a writer? Did you return with more than you left home with?
Once you’ve answered those questions you’ll know whether you want to attend that conference again or not. For us, after attending OWFI, all those answers were good ones.
What do you want to return from a conference having accomplished?