WRITE: The Introvert’s Guide to the Writers Conference
(Tomorrow, I’m headed to the Florida Christian Writers Conference, where I’ll teach, represent Sisterhood magazine, and serve as chaplain. This post originally appeared on their faculty blog, but I thought I’d repost it today in honor of the many introverts who will attend this or another writing conference now and in days to come.)
It took me years to attend my first conference. And I do mean years. In fact, I’d already published three books with traditional publishers before I attended any writing-focused event.
I didn’t intend to keep to myself. Not exactly. My career exploded from miniscule to much, and I was climbing a learning curve that seemed more like a mountain. I was far too busy.
Or so I thought.
And I may as well admit it: I’m the classic introvert. I love people, but I get my energy from my alone time. I prefer fewer, deeper relationships to a large number of shallow ones. My favorite writing time is late at night when the house is quiet. I can almost hear my spirit inhale as the ideas take shape.
If I’ve just described you, welcome to our quiet club. I’d also like to welcome you to the conference world. A conference offers us introverts the same benefits as other writers. But how can we maximize our time while minimizing the frustration and exhaustion that often accompany this type of public event?
1. Pre-select workshops and clinics. You’ll feel more confident and comfortable without last-minute decisions. And this way, you can choose offerings that match your needs. At first, you may want to avoid interactive sessions. Give yourself permission to glean before you give.
2. Make a wise roommate choice or pay for a single. I learned this the hard way. A sweet-but-talkative roommate processed her days by telling me stories (and more stories–and more stories) each night. Another year, a more thoughtful choice allowed me to recharge in the quiet.
3. Take a break. Your conference fee doesn’t require you to attend every session. If you feel overloaded, skip a workshop and pay for the flash drive or CD. Plan your own free time if you need more than the general schedule allows.
4. Don’t try to process it all. Resolve to go through your notes later and content yourself with receiving even without full comprehension. Enjoy the sumptuous information buffet and ask God’s help to digest it afterward.
5. Treat your editor or agent appointment as a consultation, not a tryout. You attend a conference to hear from the experts. Instead of putting yourself in performance mode, consider your meeting a career consultation. Remember: the experts came to help you.
6. Take some risks. Speak to that author you’ve always admired. Attend the session that scares you. Sit with one or two strangers at meals and ask about their conference experience. You may make a new friend. And you may see God change your life.
7. Remain open to what God might want to do in and through your unique personality. He loves to pour His power through your weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). His plans may surprise you, but they’ll always be good.
As you head off to your conference, ask God to speak, and then listen. That’s something every introvert can do well.
Do you respond to the world as an extra- or introvert? Do you have a story of how God worked through (or in spite of) your personality at a conference or other public event? Feel free to share it or a prayer request in the comments below. As I head to the FCWC tomorrow afternoon, I covet your prayers as well.
CONTEST RESULTS from random.org: We have a winner for author Grace Fox‘s newest release (Grace was featured in last week’s Words with Friends interview here). And the winner is . . . Nikki Alvarez! I’ll send your name and contact information to Grace, Nikki, so she can send out your book sometime soon. Congratulations!