By Vivian Arend
Yesterday I talked more about physically surviving getting to and from the event. What about what to get OUT of the conference?
4. Sessions, or no sessions, or some sessions.
This one is very very personal. The biggest thing to do? Think about how you learn, what kind of writer you are and then feel no guilt for doing whatever pushes your learning buttons. If you love love love to listen to speakers, take tons of notes and when you go home this is going to invigorate you and make the next book that much better–hell yeah. Do those sessions. I simply can’t. The one and only time I tried to use someone else’s ‘method’ for writing I got stuck stuck stuck until I tossed it out the window and went back to my happy little state of unknowingness.
There are other sessions than craft, though. Information regarding career planning, inspiring and motivating talks about balancing your writing and your life. There are some of those that are very intriguing.
Do I want to learn during the time I’m at RWA? Definitely. But my number way to learn is to talk to people. I’m not a lecture gal– I don’t want to listen without being involved. One on one, or in small groups. At breakfast, in the bar, in the hallway of the hotel for 3 hours… I pretend like I’m a sponge, and I sit next to the people who I want to soak in. It’s not a formal learning situation, but holy moly, it works for me. I’ve come away from the past two conferences inspired and motivated to move forward.
5. Meet w old friends
I will admit it. This is my number one reason to go to RWA. I want to see my friends. I want some in real life time with the people I’ve tweeted, and IMed and emailed with over the past year. The first year I went my list of people I knew was small, so I just winged it. Other than making plans to meet up with a reader (waves at Lisa) I just met with people off the cuff.
Last year I knew more people, and it became obvious that I wasn’t going to simple fall into everyone’s paths. That’s a conference rule, BTW. Somehow you will casually bump into the same group of people over and over and over, and never see X, Y or Z. It’s crazy, but that’s what happens.
So this year I’ve made dates with some people that I need to have talk time with. I will still be casual and meet others at the bar, but for example…Eden Bradley. We were supposed to get together at RT, and it never happened. I want to make sure I get a visit, so I’ve planned for it.
6. Meet new friends
Along with planning a few things, I’m keeping open spaces in my day, because I simply love the surprises that happen at a conference. All it requires is for you to be brave, and say hello. You never know what will happen because you’re friendly. And if you’re the shy type? Find a friendly to stand beside. I’ve met the loveliest people at conferences. Ann Aguirre as I mentioned before. Maya Banks, Thea Harrison, Carly Philips. During RT I got to have lunch spur of the moment with Lea and Mary who are two wonderful Canadian bloggers I know online, but had never met in person. It made my day!
Everyone is there with a common love for storytelling and reading. Use that common ground and have a blast. I’ll be around–look for the cowboy hat–and I’ve been told I’m not too scary to talk to.
So come say hi