Monday, December 21, 2009

10 Tips for a Terrific Writers’ Conference

By Jerry B. Jenkins
2010 FCWC Keynote Speaker
Owner, Christian Writers Guild

Take it from one who has been to dozens of writers conferences over the last nearly 40 years in capacities ranging from first-time attendee to speaker: there are ways to maximize your experience.

You’ll be happier and more productive if you follow a few simple guidelines:

1. Plan your itinerary carefully and don’t include errands and intermediate stops that may make you late or wonder if you’ll be late. There’s enough pressure at a conference without adding to it.

2. Get as much sleep as possible the night before you leave home; it may be the last time you get enough for a few days. You’ll need every ounce of energy you can store.

3. Plan to arrive with time to spare so you don’t have to start running as soon as you show up. Leave time to settle in, gather your materials, find the meeting rooms, and get ready to learn.

4. You’ll stay up late enough with the scheduled activities, so resist the urge to stay up even later, despite all the new friends and acquaintances. If you’re a zombie by day two, you’ll regret it.

5. Choose your workshops carefully and buy recordings of the ones you hate to miss. If you need to skip one for a nap or an appointment with an editor or speaker, do it.

6. Bring a little more money than you think you need. If you still have it by the end of the conference, reward yourself by buying that extra book or resource you didn’t expect to find.

7. Don’t trust your memory. Take lots of notes and, if a speaker particularly inspires you, buy the recording , too. It’s a small investment for an experience you can re-live whenever you want to.

8. Bring business cards that include your address, phone, and email address. Be prepared to exchange cards with many new friends.

9. When meeting with an editor or speaker, be prepared, plan to make just a point or two, and do a lot of listening.

10. Develop a thick skin. Every piece of published writing is a duet between editor and writer, not a solo. If you just want someone to love your writing, show it to your mom.

Writers’ conferences are almost always feasts for the senses, but it’s easy to overload. Everything is new and unforgettable, until you try to rehearse it in your mind on the way home.

Free time is built in, so strive to make every general session. Often the speaker you’ve never heard of turns out to be your favorite.

Visit Jerry at the following sites:


  1. I have been looking at the newsletter I received about this conference, actually pouring over it.I want to attend at all costs. I am working on my first book and have a second one just started. I have also written many poems. I need this conference to get into the atmosphere of writers and editors. I hope to see you there.

  2. Thank you so much for the incredible tips!


Chime in!