Surviving a Writing Conference

posted in: Random Stuff, Writing | 5

Last weekend I attended a writing conference (OWFI) in Oklahoma City. I have been to a few blogger conferences and work related conferences but this was my first time at a writers conference.  Ever since being a part of Listen To Your Mother I have tried to be a little more serious about this writing thing.  But the thing with writing is that you have to know how to put words together that make sense and that is not always easy.  Writing good words is hard.  In an effort to be a better writer I decided to attend the OWFI conference, knowing full well that some would not consider a blogger a real writer. To those who think bloggers aren’t real writers, I say “good day. I SAID good day”.  

In attendance, there would be professional and amateur writers and everything in-between, so I was a little nervous. When one is nervous about attending something in which you are not proficient, my first bit of advice is to look your best.  Curl your hair, wear a cute outfit and fabulous shoes.  The following applies to any life social situation: when in doubt it is always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.  Skirts with pockets are helpful, that way you have something to do with the hand that is not holding a wine glass and it looks suave.  Skirts/dresses with pockets say “I’m fashion forward enough to know that dresses with pockets are all the rage right now and I’m cool standing here, looking all casual, with my hand in my cute pocket. People want to talk to a runway pocket wearing writer, so come on over”.  Knowing that you look good can give you the confidence boost you need to walk into a room full of strangers when the thought of networking with them is nauseating.  On a side note;  I abhor networking and small talk.  Networking is for extreme extroverts and most writers and bloggers are not extroverts.  They are typically more comfortable behind the computer or with their nose in a book.  Here is how to overcome the standing-all-alone-with-a-drink-in-your-hand-with-no-one-to-talk-to awkwardness…find someone who looks just as awkward and uncomfortable as you; the person who is using the guise of checking their email as a way to make themselves feel busy instead of painfully alone.  When you see this person at a conference, put on your big girl panties and introduce yourself.  Make a joke about how much you hate networking events and would she like to get a drink and talk about how hard it is to be alone at things like this.  Suddenly you are no longer alone and you just might have a new friend. 

Back to the writers conference: one reason I decided to attend this particular conference is because I would know at least three people there.  The odds were in my favor that I would have at least one person to cling to talk to at all times.  It turns out that I knew a few more people thanks to my online community of bloggers.  Something pleasantly unexpected happened, when I saw my blogging friends they seemed genuinely happy to see me.  As we talked they were interested in why I was there and what I was working on.  They made me feel great and I was really touched.  It made me think about how in everyday life we are always asking people how they are doing but don’t really expect or want a real answer.  What would happen if we actually took the time to find out the answer and listen to them? Instead of just asking how they are doing, asking something specific about their life and really listening to the response. What type of real connection would we make if we slowed down and took the time to really find out how someone was doing?

This interaction made a conference that could have been scary, actually fun.  I have another blogging conference coming up this summer and I realized that I don’t have to dread it.  As long as I have one or two friends there as a security blanket and am prepared to be just as welcoming to new friends as my writer conference friends were to me. This experience reminded me why we even go to conferences like this in the first place.  It renews your passion for whatever vocation or hobby you subscribe to.  Being around other people who love the same things you love, listening to speakers share their knowledge, joking and laughing about topics that outsides would not understand…it’s invigorating.  

5 Responses

  1. Chris Carter

    Oh Stephanie, I would feel the exact same way!! And I wouldn’t be dressed all cute either… cause I suck at ‘how to dress all cute’. 🙂 I’m SO glad you found your blogging community there to support you!!

    So… what about the conference? Details girl!! What DID you learn?

    I need to go… but so nervous to…and money… but I need to go…
    Chris Carter recently posted…You Are Alive! Savor It…My Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      You would be adorable.

      My main takeaway was not to take “no” for an answer and to put fear aside and pursue what you love and want. There wasn’t a lot of info for non-fiction writers but it was still a good experience.

      The conference I went to offered scholarships so I got to go for free (except for the cost of dinner). Maybe you could find something similar in your area!

  2. Shel Harrington

    I was one of the people delighted to see you,. Stephanie! That whole friendship thing grows on itself in those environments. I met all of my critique group members at the first conference I ever went to. Which happened to be OWFI – a few years ago! If you’re next one is the AK blogging one, I’ll be seeking YOU out for a familiar face!

    And to your friend, Chris Carter, I say DO IT! One more great experience to savor!
    Shel Harrington recently posted…The Garden of MarriageMy Profile

    • Stephanie Clinton

      Thank you for being so welcoming! It made all the difference.

      Yes, my next conference is the AK blogger conference and I’m SO happy to hear you will be there also!

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