Tips for surviving a writer's conference.
Darwin was right when he coined, "Survival of the fittest." You have to be in good shape to survive a writer's conference. The travel, the workshops, the food, the smiling, the walking, and the parties are enough to bring the healthiest of writers to their tender knees. The hours, the reading, the listening, and the networking can make a writer's conference fun or a big fat flop.
Most cons for writer folk are pretty well organized. Honestly, how easy can it be herding a bunch of people who spend most of their "productive" time sitting still and perched on the edge of a rolling office chair from Office Depot? They are not in the habit of moving at light speed for much of anything unless it's the mail to collect acceptance letters, checks, and of course, letters of rejection. Even though they should, most writers "forget" to exercise on a daily basis and that makes the exercise of attending conference workshops a challenge for some.
However, you may be one of the few writers I met in the fitness center of the Hyatt hotel two weeks ago as I was exercising while attending the Romantic Times Booklover's Convention 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. Wait. The only other people on the equipment with me were male romance cover models keeping their pecs in working order for the pageant and the picture sessions. I took my yoga mat with me, but when I saw the parade of cover models taking the elevators to the basement, I followed and was not disappointed. The scenery was great but the exercise allowed me to function and come home from the con only a little worn out and able to rejoin the normal household pace without much more than a two-hour nap. Most of the other writers I know who attend this conference need three days to recover. I don't have that luxury.
Besides taking your yoga mat, what else should you do to "survive" a writer's conference? Here are my ideas:
1. Prepare. Start early on preparations including getting eight hours of sleep several nights before going to the conference.
2. Food. Pack any particular foods you must eat. Don't rely on local food availabilities to provide what you're used to eating. I limit the amount of white flour and high fructose corn syrup I eat, so I packed a loaf of white spelt bread and took a six-pack of bottled water to save money. I even called the hotel restaurant ahead of time so I could plan my meals around what they serve that I can eat.
3. Exercise. Committ to exercise at least once (should exercise a few minutes a day) while at the conference. That's why I packed my yoga mat. Ten minutes of yoga in the morning before the workshops made a huge difference to my energy levels and my attitude all day.
4. Water. Drink water and lots of it. No matter what everyone else is drinking, you should drink more water than usual while at conferences. Water is cleansing and calming. For every glass of wine or beer you deposit, drink two of water.
5. Advance planning. Plan your workshops in advance. Even if you do not get the workshop schedule until you arrive, take fifteen minutes to make a list of the sessions you want to attend. Check the maps (if one is provided) and be reasonable about how much distance you can cover between sessions. The walking at con does not count as exercise it only contributes to exhaustion. And wear reasonable shoes.
6. Pamper yourself. Take pampering tools with you. A few drops of lavender oil in the bath water will revitalize and even your temperament so you can cope with the hectic pace and crowds of conferences. Driving? Pack the motorized foot bath and soak your feet every night!
So many great things normally happen at a writer's conference no matter what level or type of writer you are. Pack your patience, your best attitude, and your yoga mat and you will come home with good information and perhaps a new book contract like I did!
You get out of a writer's con what you put in to it. Stuff it with positivity and that's what you'll get in return.
Get thee to the nearest writer's con soon, but be smart and healthy about it!
Be well, write well,
Right now I'm reading Vengeance Road, by Rick Mofina, www.rickmofina.com.
Love it! Action, mystery, suspense and really well written. Met him at RT con! Check it out!
What are YOU reading?
Writer Wellness, A Writer's Path to Health and Creativity
New Leaf Books, 2003