FCWC BLOG

The Introvert's Guide to the Writers Conference
1/2/2014 8:11:05 PM by: Marti Pieper

It took me years to attend my first conference. And I do mean years. In fact, I’d already published three books with traditional publishers before I attended any writing-focused event.

I didn’t intend to keep to myself. Not exactly. My career exploded from miniscule to much, and I was climbing a learning curve that seemed more like a mountain. I was far too busy.

Or so I thought.

And I may as well admit it: I’m the classic introvert. I love people, but I get my energy from my alone time. I prefer fewer, deeper relationships to a large number of shallow ones. My favorite writing time is late at night when the house is quiet. I can almost hear my spirit inhale as the ideas take shape.

If I’ve just described you, welcome to our quiet club. I’d also like to welcome you to the conference world.  A conference offers us introverts the same benefits as other writers. But how can we maximize our time while minimizing the frustration and exhaustion that often accompany this type of public event?  

1. Pre-select workshops and clinics.  You’ll feel more confident and comfortable without last-minute decisions. And this way, you can choose offerings that match your needs. At first, you may want to avoid interactive sessions. Give yourself permission to glean before you give.

2. Make a wise roommate choice or pay for a single. I learned this the hard way. A sweet-but-talkative roommate processed her days by telling me stories each night. Another year, a more thoughtful choice allowed me to recharge in the quiet.  

3. Take a break. Your conference fee doesn’t require you to attend every session. If you feel overloaded, skip a workshop and pay for the flash drive. Plan your own free time if you need more than the general schedule allows.

4. Don’t try to process it all. Resolve to go through your notes later and content yourself with receiving even without full comprehension. Enjoy the sumptuous information buffet and ask God’s help to digest it afterward.   

5. Treat your editor or agent appointment as a consultation, not a tryout. You attend a conference to hear from the experts. Instead of putting yourself in performance mode, consider your meeting a career consultation. Remember: the experts came to help you.

6. Take some risks. Speak to that author you’ve always admired. Attend the session that scares you. Sit with one or two strangers at meals and ask about their conference experience. You may make a new friend. And you may change your life.

7. Remain open to what God might want to do in and through your unique personality. He loves to pour His power through your weaknesses. His plans may surprise you, but they’ll always be good.

As you head off to your conference, ask God to speak, and then listen. That’s something every introvert can do well. 
 

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Comments

Kim From Houston At 9/21/2014 8:15:30 AM

Thank you so much for your advice. I am planning to attend my first conference. It is encouraging to hear there are other introverts there. When I find my energy level low I try to spot another one and sit by her or him. I smile and say ""hello"" and we both understand that that is enough.

Marti Pieper From Mount Dora, FL At 1/28/2014 8:36:37 PM

I'm just now coming back to notice the comments. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Donna, you are FAR from the only introvert who comes to a writers conference. And I'm glad you all found this helpful. I'm going to reread it before I attend (and teach) this year!

Polly From Deland FL At 1/12/2014 3:37:02 PM

I've wanted to attend a conference like this for years and this year I finally have the opportunity. As it draws closer, however, I am feeling nervously apprehensive. Thank you for the advice and for the permission to simply learn, relax and remain open.

Mindy Peltier From Kirkland, WA At 1/11/2014 10:18:40 PM

Great advice! I am an extrovert and I really appreciated learning how my introvert friends think and feel. I pinned this onto our board for writers conferences because I know this will encourage many writers.

Donna Collins Tinsley From Port Orange, FL At 1/5/2014 2:52:31 PM

I love knowing that I am not the only introvert who attends and loves writer's conferences. Of course, FCWC is the very best!That is some very good advise concerning breaks and roommates. Who knows, maybe I will take some risks this year thanks to your blog and your prayers for me last year.

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