Friday, May 28, 2010

How to keep your sanity

I'm sorry. I'm not giving you advice on how to keep your sanity in general. I really haven't mastered that task yet, so you'll have to go somewhere else for that topic!

No, today we're talking on how to keep your sanity at a writer's conference. As much as we hear their praises touted by other writers, going for the first time is huge. Goodness, I think it is overwhelming most times regardless!

Some of this depends on your personality. An outgoing sanguine may have an easier time. But considering some of us writer's tend to be introverted and have difficulties with crowds, it's worse for some.

Still, even for the most outgoing, there is a TON of information crammed into a short period of time, so many people to meet, and the huge, nerve-wracking opportunity to "pitch" to agents and editors.

Today, I'd like to give you a few practical tips on how to maintain at least a sliver of sanity while going to a conference (taken from the perspective of ACFW, since that is the only main conference I've been too....)
  1. Prepare. The more prepared you are before you to, the more confident you will be when you get there. Read the "pre" conference blogs that tell you all the things you might need, one-sheets, business cards, what to pack, etc.
  2. Research. Read blogs about those who have gone before you. Familiarize yourself with their experiences, get an idea of what to expect. The two years I went to ACFW, I did extensive blogging while I was there. If you'd like to take a look, feel free. 2008 ACFW - Minneapolis 2009 ACFW - Denver.
  3. Relax. Make room for "me" time. Skip one class and take a nap. Go sit in the coffee house and chill. At ACFW, there is a prayer room that is a good place to go and give all your worries and fears to God, and just to rest in Jesus for a little bit.
  4. Eat. Two words for you: Chocolate and Caffeine. But seriously, they provide plenty of food, but some of the meals you get to sit with agents/editors and possibly even pitch to them. Don't forget to still eat! (and don't grill the agent/editor too much that they can't touch their food either!)
  5. Get a roommate. Not only will you save $$, but you'll have someone built in to kinda "hang" with if you don't know many others. You'll also have someone to vent to, share wins and not quite good news with.
  6. Have Fun. Don't get so wrapped up in the technical aspect of a writing conference that you don't let loose and have a little fun! Goodness... go climb a tree if you need to!
Regardless, can I just tell you? Sanity is HIGHLY overrated, and as noted in the pictures in this post, I lost mine going to conferences regardless of how hard I tried to keep it!

Anyone else who has gone to a conference have tips for keeping your sanity? Or do you just say, whatever, and let your sanity fly through the window like a pesky fly that you're better off without anyway!?!


Casey said...

What a great post. I agree with you (though I have never been to a major one) just make sure it's fun. You don't want to be uptight and stressed, but enjoy the moment.

Love those photso, but I have to know, why DID you climb that tree??


Keli Gwyn said...

Great tips, Krista!

One suggestion I have is to exchange cell phone numbers with those you want to meet before you arrive. There can be so many people at the large conferences that locating one another in the crowd can be challenging. A quick call or text message can solve the problem.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Sometimes you get so caught up in what all is going on you don't realize you've stressed yourself. Krista's right, budget in those breaks! It's OK! You have permission!

Unknown said...

Good list. I'd say to go in with an open mind. If we think the whole week is a failure unless we walk away with an agent or a publisher, we miss out on so much great stuff.

Karen Lange said...

I'm with you on the sanity thing being overrated. Great points for conferences, thanks!

Krista Phillips said...

Casey... WHY did I climb the tree? Oh, my. Mostly, just because it was fun. It had NOTHING to do with the fact that we'd just eaten at a liquor store. Really, it didn't, LOL. (and I'm not teasing... there was a little mexican place with no sign attached to the wine and spirits place... we ate there, I drank a coke, then we went and climbed a tree, LOL!)

Really, Jessica and I were trying to find fun photo ops. We thought tree climbing in the middle of the road (it was in the middle median) would be a perfect spot!

Krista Phillips said...

Keli, a GREAT suggestion!!! A crit partner and I exchanged cell #'s before our first conference, and it helped a ton!

Krista Phillips said...

Mary, breaks ARE so needed. I felt guilty when I skipped a class at my first conference, but at my 2nd, no guilt, and I felt SO very much better!

Krista Phillips said...

Julie, you are SO SO SO right! Managing expectations are HUGE! But... still go in with an open mind. I'm all about being an optimist... within reason:-)

Krista Phillips said...

Karen... yes, very overrated:-)