Sunday, March 20, 2022

Packing for a Writing Conference

by Tammy Karasek @TickledPinkTam

We are now into the full swing of writer’s conferences this year. Some writer friends have attended a conference already and others have shared where they’ll be going in the coming months. 

If you’re registered for an upcoming conference, I want to share some tips for you as you prepare to pack what you think you’ll need. Whether this is your first time or your tenth time to attend, I hope my tips will assist you in your preparations.

You will see and hear other folks’ hints and tips of what to take to a conference. What I have to offer is probably not what you would expect a packing list to have. But my list includes items one might not think about taking, until you are reminded to do so. 

What to Pack for a Writing Conference
  • First item to pack is your open mind. You may hear a suggestion or helpful hint from a faculty member, editor or agent. Be open to receive their suggestion. Write it down. Let it sink in. Once home when you read through all your conference notes, it may make more sense and could very well be your next best step in your writing or speaking path. 
  • Next, turn those listening ears on. You’ve opened your mind to receive a message of instruction, make sure your listening ears are truly listening to what is said. Again, make those notes. Something not quite clear? Put an X beside it and when it’s time for questions, request clarification. A teacher is excited when a student wants to learn. 
  • Make sure you pack an extra dose of patience. Elevators may seem to take forever. The person with the appointment before you may be trying to take more than their allotted fifteen minutes. You have to stand in line for the food line. These all happen, but it’s not personal—look around, there are people in the same position as you and it’s normal. Slow down, strike up a conversation with someone else waiting. This is a great time to make a new writer friend or two. 
  • A willing heart. Be ready for God to speak through others at a conference. Whether it’s through a message from a keynote speaker, your teacher or maybe even someone talking to another person at the table. God can and will use different ways to speak to us. Have a prayer waiting for an answer about your next step? The next words spoken may be that answer. Be willing to hear God whisper His answer to you.
  • Head up, eyes open. Be mindful to keep your head up as you walk and your eyes open. You never know when you may pass someone who is fighting tears or nervous because they’re about to pitch their book idea to an editor or agent for the very first time. Do you remember how that felt? YOU may be exactly what they need and God has placed you there, in that moment, to stop them and ask if they are okay or need a quick prayer. I did this once, totally freaked me out when the person said, “Yes, I’d love for someone to pray these butterflies away. They’re making want to vomit.” I jumped out of my comfort zone, prayed for them right there—out loud—then asked if I could hug them, and then did. I also prayed for them during their fifteen-minute appointment. So head up, eyes open.
  • Willing to receive. While we all want to serve and love on others, remember to not block someone else’s blessing by not receiving others’ offers to help or pray for you. There are no hero buttons handed out at the end of a writers’ conference for those that throw up a hand and say, “No thanks, I don’t need help—I’ve got this.” Do they really? Yeah, probably not. Allow others to come along side of you and receive their encouragement or assistance. Don’t do it alone. 
  • Last, pack a huge dose of excitement. Conferences can be stressful, especially for a first-timer. Yet they can be filled with great instruction, encouragement and fun if you remember that these writers’ conferences are organized and planned with you in mind. They want to serve and help you as you walk the path of your writing journey. They are filled with faculty and staff who are eager to see the expressions on your face when a new point finally makes sense to you. As a teacher, I have no greater joy than to look out into my class of writers and see the face of a student who now understands the concept of what was being taught. Best. Moment!
There are so many more items I could come up with for you, but I wanted to give you some of the important ones I feel will help you have a successful conference experience. There will be other lists posted on websites on what to pack, which are very helpful in the practical sense. I wanted to give you something else to ponder as you pack. 

Some of you reading this post have gone to a conference before, so what other kinds of advice would you add to the list above? Please share in the comments. 

Oh, but don’t forget to pack those tummy meds—try as we might, sometimes those butterflies still want to show up when we least expect them.


Tammy Karasek uses humor and wit to bring joy and hope to every aspect in life. Her past, filled with bullying and criticism from family, drives her passion to encourage and inspire others and give them The Reason to smile. She’s gone from down and defeated to living a “Tickled Pink” life as she believes there’s always a giggle wanting to come out! 

She’s the Social Media Manager for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Founding President and current Vice-President of ACFW Upstate SC, Founding President of Word Weavers Upstate SC. She’s a writing team member for The Write Conversation Blog, Novel Academy, and MBT Monday Devotions and others. Her work was published in a Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments. When not writing Women’s Fiction and Rom-Com, she’s The Launch Team Geek helping authors launch their books and a Virtual Assistant for authors.

Featured Image: Photo by Oliur on Unsplash


  1. Tammy, well, now I have to add a few more things to my packing list for my upcoming conference! Great blog post!

  2. Great suggestions. Especially the heads up, eyes open. I was receiver of prayerful encouragement after a scary appointment time. I've never forgotten it.

  3. A lot of important messages packed into your post this morning, Tammy. Wish I had had them earlier when I was young and able to attend those worthwhile conferences. Now at nearly 90, I stay closer to home. Thanks for sharing this one and all you have written.