Sunday, May 21, 2023

Eight Items a Writer Should Pack for a Writer’s Conference

by Tammy Karasek 

In person writing conferences are back and underway for 2023. While there are some still online, the option to gather together again with other writers in real life is a welcome opportunity in this profession. To meet with groups of people who understand the ups and downs of this profession is a good thing—yes, even if you’re an introvert. 

If you plan to attend an upcoming conference, I want to share some tips as you pack what you think you’ll need. Whether this is your first time or your tenth time, I hope my tips will assist you in your preparations. There are plenty of lists of what to pack out there, but what I have to offer is probably not what you would expect a packing list to have. My list includes items one might not think to take. 

The list below is not in order of most important, they are all important. 

Let’s get to that list of tips:

1. 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. 

2. 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. 

3. 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 a while 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. I love to encourage new conference attendees—these wait times are your best network appointments. This is a great time to make a new writer friend or two. 

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Willing to receive. While we all want to serve and love on others, but 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 said, “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 this alone. 

7. 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, like bring snacks and drinks for your room—and chocolate to make friends. I wanted to give you some of the important ones I feel will help you have a successful conference experience. 

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 below, we’d all love to hear your tips. 

Oh, but don’t forget number 8:

8. You’ll want 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! A writer of Romance—with a splash of sass. She’s also The Launch Team Geek helping authors launch their books and also a Virtual Assistant for several best-selling authors. She is now under contract for her book on Launch Teams due to release Fall 2023. Her work was also published in a Divine Moments Compilation Book—Cool-inary Moments. She’s also the Social Media Manager for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Founding President and current Vice-President of ACFW Upstate SC, and Founding President of Word Weavers Upstate SC. She’s a writing team member for The Write Conversation Blog, Novel Academy, MBT Monday Devotions, The Write Editing and more. Connect with Tammy at HTTPS://WWW.TAMMYKARASEK.COM.


  1. Tammy,

    Excellent wise advice. Thank you for putting it together. See you soon.

    author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow the Link for a FREE copy]

    1. Thanks, Terry. Yes, a week from today!

  2. Great list for a first timer at BRCWC! Thank you!

  3. While this will be my first trip to Blue Ridge, it won't be my first conference. May I add my agreement with everything on this list? Always expect God-winks in unexpected meetings. Thanks for this!

  4. Theresa Parker PierceMay 25, 2023 at 11:45 AM

    In Toastmasters Public Speaking class, we learned, "Everyone gets butterflies, even the president. The secret is to get your butterflies to fly in formation." This was an excellent article.