Monday, October 4, 2010

After the Conference—Now What?

Many of us have gotten to attend a writing conference this year and many of us are just a couple of weeks back from the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. We’ve been inspired by the faculty and amazed at the ideas and abilities of fellow writers. While there, the adrenaline is pumping and we know when we get home we’ll be ready to take our own writing to the next level.

Then life happens. In the tired excitement of coming home, I have to reintegrate myself into my normal life. My family needs attention and I’ve missed them, too. Work has pressing deadlines and laundry has managed to multiply and take over my downstairs. These things tend to eat away at my time and energy until I’m so drained my conference experience seems like a lifetime ago.

By the time I catch my breath and return to writing I’ve found my confidence has deserted me and I’m left overwhelmed and confused. There’s so much I want to accomplish—revise my manuscript, start a blog, follow up with editors and agents. Instead I begin to listen that voice inside that says things like -

"That editor was just being nice—she isn’t really interested in my novel”
“My novel needs so much work, I ought to just start over.”
“Who am I trying to fool? There’s no way I could ever be a real writer.”

So how do I combat this downward spiral? I make a plan. I took time to time out my conference experience—I knew each day what classes I wanted and who I wanted to meet. I have to have that kind of a schedule to put into action the things I learned at the conference.

First make a list of what you came away wanting to do and prioritize what needs to be done first.
  • Start with thank you notes for those who took time to help you are a must. If you have an address send one through the mail, but often times you don’t have that information. If not, send a quick email—trust me—they’ll remember you took the time to say thank you.
  • Next evaluate your deadlines. Let’s say you have to revise a manuscript for one editor and send a proposal for another idea to a different editor. In this case, decide which one is easier to accomplish and start there.
  • Also look at the things you wanted to accomplish personally. Maybe you decided to spend more time each day writing. Or you committed to a personal word count goal. Don’t’ let those get pushed aside—start implementing the changes. This can be an incredible confidence builder.
  • What about other writers you met? Did you promise each other to stay in touch? Be brave and reach out to new friends.
  • Most important, accomplish something writing related every day. Some days that may be reading a chapter in a writing book. It might be reading a novel written by a writer you want to emulate.
Now it’s your turn. How do you combat the dark cloud that seems to descend after a conference?


  1. Such great advice! I just came back from the San Diego Christian Writers Guild conference and was both excited and at a loss for where to your list of ways to get my head in the game. Thanks!

    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  2. Raquel, I'm glad the list helped. I always have trouble getting started after a conference experience and was surprised to find that others have the same difficulties.

  3. I thought I was the only one! I have written thank-you notes and got those mailed, but beyond that, I've not done much - and didn't know where to start. So thanks for the list!!

  4. Edie, I didn't attend the ACFW conference last month, but I relate to your experience. It's helpful to read your encouragement in the last paragraph. Somedays when I've read books important to my writing and not written much that day, I may feel like I'm not doing enough. I'll remember this affirmation next time. Thank you for your open-hand spirit, and kindness you extend to me and others along the way. Blessings.

  5. I will be attending my first conference in February. This is very good info to know in advance. Thank you!