I went to a writing conference this weekend solo, which is fine. I enjoy getting to know people when I’m not overthinking situations and new encounters. Unfortunately, I tend to overthink more than I should. I tell myself to play it cool, be mature, be natural, be normal, but then I dump popcorn on some poor soul (true story) or become “the person standing in the corner” like in Alessia Cara’s song “Here.” My strategy for the weekend was to roll with my awkwardness, plan and pack essential items.
Honestly, I may have over packed. Hence, a ten pound bag that had everything but the kitchen sink. Yet, it brought me comfort and I wouldn’t change a thing! Here are a few essentials to my survival and possibly yours:
- Book a hotel. Preferably close. And not forty minutes away in a hotel tucked way up in the mountains. Also, don’t grow impatient and just book a hotel because you’re tired of researching hotels, because then you’ll be stuck in the predicament I was in. Thankfully, the hotel was nice, but the hairpin turns up and down the mountain spiked my nerves up to a 100. I swear my poor car almost didn’t make it, especially since I almost flew off the mountain trying to pass vehicles going 10 mph. The only thing that didn’t turn me into a sweaty puddle mess was air conditioning and listening to Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of the Bones. She’s my current writing inspiration, muse.
- Bring (x) number of pens based on your pen history. I have a horrible history with pens because I lose and misplace them in seconds. I brought two, banking on a hotel and writing conference pen. At the moment, not sure I still have the pens.
- Tums, Tylenol, and essential oil. Okay, this is only if you work yourself up like me. I get so nervous that occasionally I make myself sick.
- Deodorant. Just in case.
- Mints. Gum. For breathe. For nerves.
- Business cards. You want to keep in contact with other writers, so instead of digging through your bag for a pen you take out a card. You save time. You save your nerves. You can save yourself from finding said pen and accidentally dropping it. I passed out cards for the first the time this week and it went well (First, I had to work up the nerve to admit I had cards)! I felt very official. The only factor taking away from my officialness was my blue converse shoes and shorts. Next time, I’ll wear a suit or dress, or . . . well when the time comes I’ll hire a clothes manager (Only half kidding. I need one.)
- Laptop for note taking and writing (if you have time). The laptop ended up being an inconvenience, so half way through the day I ditched it in the car.
- Extra jacket. Building temperatures are so iffy.
- Lotion. For them elbow, knees, and ankles (if you’re wearing shorts). You don’t want to be caught looking ashy.
- An extra pair of shoes for hikes/walks (especially if you happen to be in a mountainous area with scenic views). I didn’t have the time to run or hike as I expected, but I did take a lovely walk on a lake trail. It was a great way for me to clear my head and regroup for the networking dinner.
Overall, the conference was a joy! I learned about the business side of writing (researching, editing, book design) and connected with some amazing writers and authors. Turns out, half of them worked or still work in education, so we had some great conversations about our passion for teaching and swapped school/student stories. Personally, I hope this is the beginning to many more writing conferences and connections with writers!