Once You’re at the Conference…

Conferences are fun and busy. Here are some tips on how to enjoy them even more!

Be Mindful of What You Eat

Since many conferences have plenty of delicious food, it’s easy to overindulge. I find that if I don’t overeat, I feel better. It’s extremely important for those with allergies to avoid food with mysterious ingredients. You don’t want to find out too late that you accidentally ate a food that can cause you medical problems. And if you’re unsure about ingredients, ask the server. Don’t take a chance with your health.

Skip Rolls and Desserts

One way to cut back is to skip rolls and dessert, at least most of the time. And don’t be shy about leaving food on your plate. If you are no longer hungry, the food has served its purpose. Again, no need to get sick. Please note if you eat a meal with me at a conference, you will be in a no-judgment zone. I don’t care if you consume every roll in sight and several desserts. I’ll be envious! The suggestion to decline is just my way of coping.

And Speaking of Meals, Sit with Me!

I like feeling popular.

Go to Bed as Early as Possible Each Night

I know how hard it is to drag yourself away from writer friends. But do be protective of your down time. Don’t you want to be refreshed so you can fully enjoy precious time together?

Decide What You Can Miss

Conference directors are wonderful about scheduling so many workshops that choosing one per time slot is difficult, much less thinking about missing any. But since you can usually purchase a DVD of all the workshops, consider missing one or two if necessary. Again, you’ll be glad you took that down time so you can keep up your energy throughout the conference.

Give Yourself at Least a Day to Recover

Once you’re home, reality will quickly set in as you face a mountain of laundry and catch up on errands. Give yourself time to recover from the excitement of the conference. Agents and editors need time, too, so if you don’t follow up with us ten minutes after your plane lands, we’re fine with that. Trust me, we’ll remember you.

Your Turn:

How do you stay at your peak during a conference?

What tips can you offer to get the most enjoyment from a conference?

26 Responses to Once You’re at the Conference…

  1. Jackie Layton June 9, 2016 at 3:20 am #

    Thanks for these great tips, Tamela.

    I’ve never used a gym while at conference, but I find walking around helps me. If I can get some fresh air, I also feel better. Being stuck inside with no fresh air really makes me feel bad.

    As I’ve made more friends, it’s easier to go to conferences. Having a support team to pray with makes a huge difference. The first time I attended an ACFW conference, I went alone. Now I look for authors who appear alone and try to reach out to them.

    • Tammy G Fish June 9, 2016 at 7:02 am #

      What a great idea to look out for others, Jackie. Yes, I’ve only been to a small conference and still felt overwhelmed by the amount of strangers…It was fun that we all had writing in common though. Except for church, rarely am I in a crowd of like-minded people.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 9, 2016 at 7:14 am #

      Jackie, I love these tips! Walking is a great idea, something you can do with your new friends, too!

    • Jacqueline Gillam-Fairchild June 9, 2016 at 9:53 am #

      Dear Tamela: Thank you for your advice. When the feet go, the brain follows so plan your shoes. Oddly, when the brain goes, the feet are not effected.
      Warm regards,
      Jacqueline Gillam Fairchild
      Author: Estate of Mind

  2. Diana Harkness June 9, 2016 at 5:18 am #

    Very good advice. And if you are an introvert like me, try to find a quiet hotel. Do not travel with any but your closest friend. Limit your attendance and time with others. Take a large bottle of wine to help you sleep, plenty of ibuprofen for those tension headaches, and your emergency blood pressure medicine.

  3. Ane Mulligan June 9, 2016 at 5:19 am #

    Now that’s where we differ. On the meals, I mean. I eat a couple bites of protein then head straight for the dessert. :o) The rest I agree with, but seriously, Tamela. Skip dessert???

  4. Martha Rogers June 9, 2016 at 6:08 am #

    Ane, you crack me up. Dessert is also my favorite part, but too much sugar and I’m no good at all. Eat dessert first because you may not make it through dinner. 🙂 ACFW usually has the best food and very tempting desserts, so one or two bites then cover it with my napkin and start talking.

    The prayer room and my morning quiet time are most important. Spending time with the Lord for even 15 minutes sets the tone for my day and I know it won’t come unraveled.

    I also wear my pedometer and walk around not only inside, but as Jackie says, outside up and down or even around the block to get fresh air.

    I’m an extrovert, so crowds, new people, etc. are not a problem, and I don’t mind sitting alone or looking for someone else who is. Sometimes those are divine appointments God plans for you.

  5. Christine Henderson June 9, 2016 at 6:27 am #

    I agree with Ane. I don’t usually have desserts at home so I enjoy them when I’m out someplace special. I also agree with Jackie about doing some walking to stay alert.

    I think you should also be ready to discuss any of your works. One of my friends, who writes children’s stories and parenting tips, went to a conference where all the bios for the editors and agents said they weren’t interested in reviewing any poetry. However, she still brought samples.

    When she had appointments and was asked what she wrote she added the poetry as well. They asked to see a sample and that’s where she received the best feedback.

  6. Tammy G Fish June 9, 2016 at 7:05 am #

    Thanks for the tips, Tamela especially for wanting people to sit with you. I would feel forward to ask. I imagine others feel the same, so thanks for the encouragement.

    Now, if I could ever find time to attend!

  7. Barbara June 9, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    The first time I attended a conference, I ran myself into the ground. I tried to attend every session. I skipped meals (because I was a poor college student). And I went to bed late every night and woke up super early each morning.
    Let’s just say that after that conference ended, I thought to myself, “I will never do that to myself again.”
    At my most recent conference, I made sure to pack meals (to help with the money thing and keep me healthy) and to set aside time to have alone time.

    I’d encourage new attendees to relax into the learning. Don’t stress or have super high expectations for yourself to learn everything. When I took myself off the hook of high expectations, I enjoyed myself more and learned more, too.

  8. Carol Ashby June 9, 2016 at 8:35 am #

    “Desserts” is “stressed” spelled backwards, so reverse the stress by eating lots of desserts.

    I’d recommend asking to share a room with someone you’ve never met, even if you can afford a single. I had a fantastic time sharing with a young artist who captures the image and essence of ocean waves better than any I’ve ever seen. She has already illustrated a children’s book that is a top seller. It was such fun sharing with someone my daughter’s age.

    I also enjoyed going to the cafeteria alone a few times and starting a conversation with other attendees. Then we ate together, and I came away knowing some true kindred spirits. I am an extrovert, so I find it easy to approach a total stranger and start a conversation, but I used to be an introvert. I got where I am by forcing myself to be forwardly friendly, and now I love turning strangers into new friends.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

      I can’t help but be amused by the fact the “desserts” admonition has generated the greatest number of comments! 🙂

      Sometimes I do take a bite or two of dessert, by the way. Just not too much!

      • Carol Ashby June 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm #

        Ice cream is an excellent source of calcium to protect your bones from osteoporosis. The cardiovascular benefits of dark chocolate have been scientifically proven (I’ll send the literature reference if you want). Blueberries are excellent sources of antioxidants, so you really ought to have that piece of blueberry pie.

        Dine with me at a conference, and you can leave with the scientific basis for eating desserts guilt free.

  9. Janet Ann Collins June 9, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference lets people like me with multiple food allergies bring their own food and provides (small) refrigerator space and a microwave for it.

    Besides the inspiration and education writers’ conferences provide, I’ve made lasting friendships there. Getting things accepted for publication is only part of the reason I go to them.

    And when I get to be one of the speakers it’s an honor to be able to help others.

  10. Patti Jo Moore June 9, 2016 at 9:14 am #

    Great tips, Tamela – – and I *hope* to sit at your table for at least one meal (but no worries….I would never push anyone out of the way to grab a chair, LOL). 😉
    I also like what Jackie said about walking and getting fresh air if possible. 🙂
    At my first conference, I felt compelled to attend everything – – and was completely exhausted and overwhelmed. Since then I’ve realized it’s okay if I have to miss a workshop to grab a nap or catch my breath – – then I’m more alert for the events I DO attend. 🙂
    Cannot wait until ACFW!!

  11. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. June 9, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    Tamela, thanks for the tips. I haven’t been to the ACFW conference but was in direct sales for 23 years and learned to not overeat, get plenty of sleep, and exercise every day. When I am having dinner with someone and have finished eating everything I want, I pick up the salt shaker and give a liberal dusting of salt to everything on the plate. That way, I am not tempted to keep eating. (I never pick up a salt shaker except to pass it to someone else.)
    Looking forward to seeing everyone!

  12. Rick Barry June 9, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Combine walking with soaking up local flavor. It’s invigorating to get out of the hotel and see some local sights. If you grab a friend, you can share the sights and take turns photographing each other.

    Also, conferences present a temptation to become self-centered. Don’t fall into that trap. Sure, you can run around talking about yourself and trying to network only with “important” people. But it’s fun (and I think healthy) to keep an eye open for that confused or harried-looking soul who could use an encouraging word.

    • Tamela Hancock Murray June 9, 2016 at 12:10 pm #

      Good point, Rick. A conference is one of the few places where we can really feel free to “brag” a little. That’s why it’s so great to get back to family asking what’s for supper and please do the laundry! Reality snaps us back every time.

      As for meeting “important” people? I’ve heard more than one story of someone “unimportant” being elbowed and trampled when others are rushing to be near an editor or agent. That’s a huge turnoff and the “unimportant” person is unlikely to forget such treatment. And this is definitely not the spirit we want to present at any conference, especially a Christian conference. The remedy has been suggested several times here — stay in touch with the Lord through prayer.

  13. Daniel J. Parker June 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

    Oh man….bring on the buffet….I mean bring on the books !

  14. Barbara Tifft Blakey June 10, 2016 at 7:34 am #

    Water. I strongly recommend remembering to drink plenty of water. It helps overcome fatigue and keep our minds clear. And if ever I’m at another conference with you, Tamela, I promise to sit at your table. Will that make me popular? (hehehe)

  15. Loretta Eidson June 11, 2016 at 6:24 am #

    I learned after attending my first conference that you’re not expected to attend everything, people won’t bite, making new friends can be fun, and agents, editors, and publishers are real people too. Now, I select classes that fit my need, volunteer to serve, enjoy time with fellow writers while watching for the loner who may need encouraging.

    • Martha Rogers June 11, 2016 at 7:22 am #

      Good advice, Loretta. I learned the same lessons, but it took a few conferences for me to get it through my head. Volunteering is one of the most fun parts of the conference for me, and looking for that person who needs encouragement can lead to one of those “divine appointments.”

  16. Shannon Redmon June 11, 2016 at 7:32 am #

    Conference retreats usually have beautiful grounds and quiet areas. I try to find a quiet spot on-site to recharge and have quiet time to talk with God about all I’m learning.

    Also, my secret weapon is flavored coffee, coffee, coffee!

  17. Sherri Wilson Johnson June 18, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

    Thanks for the great tips, Tamela. I’m attending ACFW for the first time this year. So excited but needed to know what to expect.

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