Friday, March 29, 2019

What NOT To Do at a Writing Conference—Tips from a Director

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I’ve been on both sides of the writing conference scene—for a long time. I attended conferences for 10+ years before I took a position on a leadership team. I’ve now been in leadership for almost that long. And I’ve seen a lot of things.

Some good.

And some not so good.

Today I thought I’d let you peek in the window at my unique perspective ad take a look at some of things we should never do.

What Not To Do
1. Assume that someone is acting out of malice. Conferences can be a highly stressful situation. Emotions are heightened and that can lead us to act—and react—in ways that are outside our normal behavior. Because of this, I often see conferees jumping to the conclusion that someone did something hurtful on purpose. By giving one another the benefit of the doubt, we can often diffuse difficulty situations.

2. Act rudely. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how often I see this. Desperate attendees interrupt others, trying to get the attention of editors and agents. Others physically push in line to get just the appointment the think they need. Beyond that, conferees have been known to follow faculty in the personal facilities and other inappropriate places. Remember that there are others who also have hopes and dreams and it’s never okay to destroy someone else in our climb to the top.

3. Refuse to do your homework. Almost all the conferences I’m a part of go to extreme lengths to disseminate the information attendees need. We have websites, blogs, Facebook groups, emails, etc. Yet every year my phone rings off the wall from folks who refuse to spend five minutes searching for information that’s easily accessible. We’ve even been accused of not doing our due diligence in getting out the information because the person complaining doesn’t check email. So much of publishing is following written directions. Do yourself—and your career—a favor and take advantage of the information provided to help you succeed.

NOTE: My team and I do not mind answering questions. Obviously there’s no way we can anticipate every question someone might have. We just get weary of those who refuse to do any work at all to find information.

4. Forget that God is in control. So much of the previous points would be alleviated if we would just remember that ultimately, God is the one in control of our writing path. He will work out the appointments He wants us to have—even if there are no appointments available. So take a deep breath and release control back to the One who has only our best interests at heart.

As I said, writing conferences can be stressful—as well as joyful—experiences. So by taking some time before hand and deciding how we’re going to act can make all the differences.
Now it’s your turn. What are some not-to-dos that you’d add to my list? Remember we all learn together when we’re willing to share. So be sure to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


One #writing conference director shares a list of what not to do - @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)


  1. Thanks, Edie. This is a reminder of how close it is getting and I can't wait to be there! All the information on the Blue Ridge site has been so helpful. I'm overwhelmed by the content and number of classes offered and it's difficult to decide which ones to take, but like you said, God will lead.

  2. Don't forget to pray before, during and after the conference. :-)