Conference Magic

A conference hangover is the best kind of hangover. On the heels of SCBWI OC Writers Day, I find myself full of energy. It happens after every conference—I get doused with this magic that makes me want to keep on keeping on with my craft, no matter how exhausted or busy I am.

That magic helped me complete a final read-through of my middle grade novel before I soon send it off to agents. Not only that, I’m ready to start my next novel. You know that middle grade horror story I’ve wanted to write since earlier this year? Just this past week, an idea sparked and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Yep, that productivity is the result of conference fairy dust, people. And every time I leave another SCBWI event, I walk away with that magic sprinkled atop my shoulders.

To maximize my experience, these are the things I do at events. I encourage you to try one or two at the next conference you attend.

  1. Temper your expectations. Walk in expecting to learn, learn, learn. I’m not saying you can’t expect an agent or editor to swoon over your work, but remember that this industry is competitive. The more open you are to other ideas, the more you grow.
  2. Be friendly. Like you, many of the other attendees are breaking from their writer bubbles. It can be difficult to step out of your comfort zone, but making friends can lead to new critique partners, submission opportunities, and more. Plus, kidlit writers are the nicest people on the planet.
  3. Listen for the nuggets. Even if you’ve attended many conferences and have heard the same topics covered again and again, be receptive. The speakers have valuable insight that could propel you forward in some way.
  4. Pay for the extras if you can. Industry-expert feedback on your work is SO valuable. Take advantage of that manuscript critique or pitch session. Who knows, it could be a door to something great if your piece resonates with even one person.

What do you do to capture that conference magic?

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