When getting ready for a conference, writers agonize over creating the perfect one-sheet sales pitch, polishing manuscripts, and how they’ll conduct themselves when meeting with agents and editors. But not every preparation is writing-related. I’ve been on faculty at many conferences and I’ve learned a few tricks to help make each conference a happier one.
Get plenty of rest before the conference
I realize that many writers don’t have the luxury of getting enough rest most of the time, much less before a conference. But if you can manage going to bed a little earlier each night a week or so beforehand, you should be more refreshed when you arrive.
Hydrate before the conference
Staying well hydrated helps you keep energized any time, but is especially important before a conference, particularly since down time – and therefore the chance to stay hydrated – is limited during many conferences.
Be aware if the conference will be at a high altitude. Though I drank lots of extra water a few days before a high-altitude conference and was able to cope well enough to meet all my obligations, I didn’t feel I was always at my best. I learned later that for high altitudes, you need to hydrate at least two weeks in advance. Longer is even better.
Know the Rules
Some conferences are held at church camps so they have special rules of conduct. Become aware of those rules so you can be sure to comply.
Make a list
Create a document you can use for all your trips to include everything you need but might tend to forget, such as a health insurance card, Band-Aids, travel bedroom slippers, or a key piece of jewelry. Use the list as you pack.
Map Out Clothing for Each Day
Write down what outfit you plan to wear each day and take the paper with you. It’s amazing how this small action can help you stay organized during the trip. Also, throw in an extra outfit. If you are flying, pack that extra outfit in your carry-on in case your main bag gets lost. Include your most comfortable shoes because some — even reliable — shoes can feel like cramped wood blocks after a big day.
Try to Arrive Early
If possible, try to arrive early enough so that you can settle in and catch your breath rather than hitting the ground running. Most conference schedules are packed, so an early rest will help you be at your best. Have fun!
What is your favorite conference story?
What tips can you offer to prepare for a conference?