We're absolutely delighted to introduce our conference ambassador, Hayley E. Lavik. Her goal at the conference is to make sure you have someone to sit with at meals or talk to in the bar (or anywhere else) if you need it, whether this is your first SiWC or your umpteenth. She's all about helping people build community at SiWC, and she's awesome. Please find her at the conference and say hello! She's put together this survivial guide for you, useful for new and returning attendees alike. And if you are new and would like help getting a feel for the hotel and where everything happens, details of Hayley's Friday morning orientation session are at the end of this post.
How to Survive a Writing Conference
It’s October already – and that means only a few weeks left until SiWC officially kicks off! With four days of workshops, master classes, and one-on-one time with industry pros, the conference can be a little like drinking from the fire hose. With a bit of prep, though, you can avoid burnout and get the most out of your conference weekend.
Recharge Your Batteries
If you’re the kind of person who finds social situations draining, take some time before the conference weekend to gather your energy. Read a book, spend some time alone, keep your schedule simple for a day or two. Many writers are introverts, and that little bit of quiet time can make a world of difference once the weekend starts.
While you’re at the conference, take breaks when you need to. Find a quiet space to unwind, collect your thoughts, look over the workshops you’d like to attend next. Grab a snack. Hydrate. If you’re staying at the hotel, don’t be afraid to duck off to your room for an hour! The conference will be waiting for you when you’re ready to come back.
The bulk of your weekend will be spent attending workshops. Keep a notebook and a pen handy to jot down key remarks from sessions when they jump out at you. Even if you don’t take a ton of notes, a few choice quotes from each workshop can help you flesh things out in detail when you look back on your notes later.
If there aren’t any workshops in a period that appeal to you, try going to something unexpected. Year after year, writers often find their biggest light bulb moments come from workshops they almost overlooked. You never know what might surprise you.
Find Your Community
Whether you’re coming alone or with a group, branch out and get to know the people around you! Ask someone beside you what workshops they’ve been to. Join a table full of new faces at mealtimes. Meals in particular make for easy socializing, with smaller groups and a whole day’s worth of writing insights to talk about. You can share notes, get tips on upcoming sessions, and get to know other writers at every stage of experience.
For my money, the fellow writers attending SiWC are honestly the best part of the entire weekend. They’re the reason I keep coming back. Writing can be such a solitary pursuit, and the chance to talk with others who understand the highs and lows of the craft energizes me for the rest of the year.
If you’re new to the conference, it might feel hard to find your footing, but remember: most of your fellow attendees are meeting each other for the first time too. Every year, writing groups are formed, professional contacts made, and even lifelong friends. Whether this is your twentieth year or your very first, SiWC is ready to inspire you.
I’ll save you a seat.
Want a bit more help finding your way around SiWC? Join Hayley first thing on conference-Friday, October 21st, for a morning orientation session. As our conference ambassador, she’s here for you whether you want tips on all the ins and outs, or simply want someone to sit with at the bar. During the conference weekend, find her in person using this handy photo as your guide, or use #SiWCmeet to connect with Hayley online any time
Got an extra seat at the bar or your own dinner table? Why not spread the word on the hashtag and invite someone new to join you? We love that our attendees do such a good job of making others feel welcome every year. We hope this hashtag makes it even easier for you to do that this year.