It was my great pleasure to attend the conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs two weeks ago. This annual event was attended by about 12,000 people, so it’s a great opportunity for networking, but it can be overwhelming. Here are a few things I learned from the experience:
- Choose your panels by the people presenting them, not by content.
- Plan to use the ladies’ room while panels are going on.
- Allow several hours to peruse the exhibits.
- Unless you are a night person, avoid the late-nite parties.
- Get people’s contact information in writing and make notes.
The organizers of AWP have done a remarkable job of making this conference the very best it can be. The exhibits are a gold mine of resources and information for writers of all kinds. Opportunities abound for meeting people and for talking about our favorite things, books. The most important lesson I’ve learned at this and other writing conferences is that there are lessons to be learned at odd times, like in the elevator (yes, really) or in the line for the ladies room (sorry, guys) or while browsing the exhibits. Workshops and panels can be extremely helpful and valuable, but you might also enjoy ongoing help and encouragement from that blogger you met on the registration line and you might find a new market for your writing from the editor waiting for his coffee at Starbucks in the lobby. If you keep your eyes and ears open, help will come to you. And goodness knows in this crazy changing world of writing and publishing, we need all the help we can get.