Thursday, May 29, 2014

Don’t Let Post-Conference Blues Derail Your Writing Journey

by Edie Melson

I'm just back from co-directing the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. It's always one of the high points of my year, but it's also an exhausting experience. And that exhaustion isn't limited just to those directing a conference or on staff. It affects those attending as well.

I've been attending large writing conferences for fifteen years and they all have ONE thing in common—post-conference blues.

It’s a natural response, if you think about it. A week-long conference is an exciting, grueling experience. Just physical exhaustion alone could get anyone down—add to that the mental and emotional effects and you have the perfect set-up for a huge let-down.

For those who aren’t expecting the post conference blues they can—worst case—derail your writing career for a year or more. This malaise can keep a new writer from turning in the manuscripts and proposals requested at the event. It can set even an experienced writer behind several work days.

Unless you know what to expect and how to fight through.

What to expect
The feelings can run the gamut of a vague sense of unease to out-right panic. I’ve found that once I’m at home all the nice things people have said about my writing morph into something ugly. 

My mind begins to play tricks and the requests and encouragement become nothing more than:
  • They were just being polite—they didn't really like my writing.
  • They don’t really want me to send in that proposal.
  • They’ll never publish that (article, devotion, whatever) they told everyone to send something in.

All of these are lies. I've sat on the editor’s side of the desk and believe me when I say this.

Less than 30% of the writers I requested material from, actually sent something in.

I’m convinced that a big reason for this lack of follow-through is the post conference melt-down.

How to push through
Here are some tried and true ways I’ve found to minimize the effects.
  • Give yourself permission to feel deflated when you get home.
  • Arrange your schedule so you have a few days to recuperate.
  • Pamper yourself. Sleep in, go out to eat, spend some much needed time with family.
  • Before you dive into conference generated work take time to evaluate what happened.
  • Make a list of things you want to accomplish over the next year, next six months and next month.
  • Develop a plan to stay in touch with new friends and contacts.
  • Reach out to others who may be feeling the same way.
  • Take your next steps in small increments.

All of these things can help you navigate the post conference blues. Now it’s your turn. Have you experienced the let-down? If so, share what have you found to help you cope in the comments section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!



  1. Excellent post, Edie. As always, it's very helpful and tweetable.:) This year, I came home to a wedding weekend so I still feel like I'm running on fumes but I wouldn't give anything for my time at Blue Ridge. What a blessing! Thanks for all your hard work.

    1. Cathy, last year I came home to insane deadlines and in some ways it was easier. Thanks for stopping by, blessings E

  2. While still on the high, I sent off a couple of requested materials. I'm glad I was quick about that before I took the blues nose-dive. I'm so isolated where I live that my only writing comrades are online. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by like-minded people.
    I also had that buffer of facing deadlines for one of my writing projects and for one of the authors I edit for. But still that melancholy feeling creeps in. It has motivated me to develop some killer class proposals so I can possibly return for a refill.
    Edie, I want to thank you for all of your hard work as well. Trust me when I say it was not in vain.

    1. Paula, you were a valuable addition to the faculty this year! It's easy for the blues to creep up unannounced and it helps to know they're lurking just out of sight waiting to pounce. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  3. Wow! Edie, that's exactly what I came home to, and had no idea others did to, or that it was common enough that it might be expected. Thanks for putting a framework around it, with suggestions for combating the post-conference blues!

  4. I needed this! It's been soooo weird this week. Soooo weird. Definitely experiencing the blues. I've eaten Nutella straight from the jar for the past two days. Thank you for permission to go to the beach. I think you guys out did yourself this year. It was my favorite by far. (My 4th BR and 6th conference.) Thanks Edie! Please pray for me. You're in my prayers too.

  5. Thanks for all your hard work Edie - it was my best Blue Ridge conference ever. And thanks for this post and for mentioning "panic" because I've been freaking out in my head ever since I got home. I have such a headache!

  6. I too, am overwhelmed with my goals, with the inspiration from so many encouragers, and with the undone jobs at home. I have no idea how I will do it all. I have decided to speak Philippians 4:13 out loud as I am crossing items off my list. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
    Thanks for all your words of encouragement, Edie.