Tuesday, May 14, 2019

De-Stress Your Writing Conference Experience

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

Conference time is gearing up. My inbox is filling with requests for critiques, appointments, and teaching needs and my office looks like a storage room. I’m preparing to box and ship books, drag out suitcases, and begin laying out materials that need to be packed. 

I have to admit. I get a little stressed just hoping I remember all I need to do once I arrive at the conference. Despite the stress, I’m filled with excitement as well.

One of the greatest parts of a conference is making friends. Peers. Critique buddies. Some of them I only see once a year and despite emails and sometimes short phone calls, I can’t wait to grab a hug and catch up on their accomplishments through the year. Conference time allows me the opportunity to refresh industry relationships and hopefully solidify a few new ones. 

It’s important to remember your conference attendance should be a time of learning and fun. Try not to overthink things. Relax. Enjoy the experience. If you miss a class – it’s okay. Purchase the MP3s and have the full conference for the rest of your life. My point is, yes – prepare, but don’t put so much stress on yourself that you miss the joy of the conference.

Here are a few things to help you prepare and de-stress for your conference experience.
  • What do you write?– As a newbie, I despised this question at my first conference. When I looked in my folder, there was a variety of items. A children's story, an article, a couple of short stories. Asking me what I wrote at the time was like demanding an instant solution for the national debt. Remember, you are attending the conference to learn. Hopefully, as you go through the week, you’ll begin to see places where your gifts lean. Perhaps it is devotions, maybe children. Could be a novel. Don’t stress. It’s perfectly fine to not know the answer to that question. Spend your time at the conference, gleaning the different areas of writing. You’ll be surprised, as others look at your work, where it may lead you.  I left my first conference with one goal – learn to write a devotion. I did that, and as I gained a stronger grasp of the genre of devotions, it led me to write non-fiction elder care articles. Before I knew it, I was learning fiction and guess where I ended up? Writing Appalachian historical fiction. Who knew? Certainly not me. Enter the conference with your work in hand and keep an open mind. Pick the brains of those around you and I guarantee, before you know it, you’ll soon be drawn to what you are meant to write.

  • Plan to buy the conference MP3s– Sure it costs you a little money, but when you purchase the MP3s and take them home, you have the full conference at your fingertips. Now the stress of making it to every class dissolves and you are able to choose classes that you want face time with the speaker. Do your homework. Look at the classes prior to your arrival. Highlight what you are interested in, then pick classes that meet you WHERE YOU ARE writing wise at this time. This way you can take advantage of that person-to-person time in class to ask questions and receive guidance. The remainder you can glean by listening at home. Less stress! Smart conferee.

  • Leave unrealistic expectations at home– How do I nicely say this? It’s not uncommon for every new writer to come to a conference fully expecting a contract when they leave. The reality is, less than .01% of the writers who attend a conference, receive a contract on the spot. Instead, come prepared to present the best work you can. Listen to those industry folks with the knowledge and guidance to help you see where your work stands. Don’t grow angry at editors or agents if your work is not on their agenda. It's not personal but it is important to understand every agent, editor, or publisher has specific needs. Your work may not meet their need, so don't walk away feeling as though your work is not good enough, or worse – be angry that publishers have missed the perfect manuscript. Go into your appointments with a teachable spirit, a willing heart, and keep in mind, the market and trends change. What an editor doesn’t need today, he or she may need next year. Remember, that sometimes our work is not ready for publication and it’s these times we suck it in and listen to how to improve. This way, you can tweak and massage the work into a piece that is ready for publication at your next presentation.

The point is, enjoy your conference time. Take away the stress. Conferences can be taxing and wear away at you quickly. Prepare. Then step back and enjoy a stress- free conference.

De-stress Your #Writing Conference Experience - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Tips for making your next #writing conference stress-free - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy K. Sproles is an author, speaker, and conference teacher. She is the cofounder of ChristianDevotions.us and the executive editor of ChristianDevotions.us and InspireaFire.com. Cindy is the managing editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is an award-winning and best-selling author and the director of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.  @cindydevoted


  1. As always, great counsel Ms. Cindy. God's blessings ma'am. Hope you're feeling much better as BRMCWC approaches. Have a great conference ma'am.

  2. Looking forward to meeting you, Cindy.