Do you resist going to writing conferences without a Linus-Blanket? I am not referring to your fuzzy, bed-raggled quilt from home. I’m talking about bringing a friend along for moral support. It is great when writer buddies travel together, but there comes a time at every conference, (brace yourself) when good friends need to part their ways.
Parting doesn’t mean ending the friendship! In fact, a conference is a fabulous time to connect with friends. For financial reasons, many writers pool their resources and travel together. That’s wise. However, as we all know, many writers are introverts. Quite often, they use their travel companions as security blankets.
Here are a few words of encouragement for the Linus-Writers.
Stuck at the Hip
If you are stuck at the hip of friend, it makes it difficult to linger after a workshop and ask a question. Dialogue may not flow as smoothly if your Linus-Blanket is always present.
Your friend may be eager to get to her next destination and you will be concerned about making her late.
Besides, what if you really wanted to go to “Put Your Writing Wig On” and your old chum guilts you into going with her to “Plotting with Puppets”?
Divide and Conquer
If you come with friends, be brave. Go to a few workshops together but don’t be afraid to split up. Divide and conquer! You can share notes and comments later. That way you get two for the price of one!
When you bravely attend a workshop alone, you have two choices. You can hermit in the back corner or you can be interactive. Be strong and courageous. Get in on the discussions—make new friends. There’s sure to be another Linus-Writer there just waiting for you to introduce yourself!
If your hometown posse constantly surrounds you, how are you going to become acquainted with others? When my quiet daughter was new in a group, I’d ask her, “What if your best friend EVER is sitting right over there? You’ll never know if it’s her unless you go start a conversation.” This usually worked. Who wants to miss the chance of meeting their best friend EVER?
I’ve been to conferences before and have seen the same eight people sitting at the same table at every meal. A huge opportunity is bypassed here. Mealtime is a great time to meet and glean from people.
If you go with a group of friends, it’s okay to stay connected. Maybe agree beforehand you will eat one meal together, but will mingle with other attendees for the remaining two meals.
Introduce your new acquaintances to your regular gang. Both parties will reap benefits.
Networking is a big deal for writers. God brings the most awesome people in our paths. Rather than solely focusing on what each person can do for you, consider how you might serve them. Usually, the quiet, Linus-Writers aren’t the ones with selfish motives. It’s an achievement for a Linus-Writer just to mingle!
A Few Suggestions for the Shy
The challenge is to introduce yourself to at least two new people in each workshop.
Have business cards ready. Perhaps this will be a conversation starter. “May I give you my card?” Be sure to ask if they have a card to give you. You may communicate more easily, via social media, after the conference is over.
Comment about the workshops to someone sitting next to you or as you’re waiting in a line. Try to keep your comments light and positive.
Other conversation-starters may be “What do you enjoy writing/reading?” “Is this your first time at this conference?” (These questions are safe to ask even if run into an editor you haven’t memorized from the list. This could be their first time at BRMCWC and surely, they enjoy reading!)
Alternatively, you can always ask someone if he is presenting a workshop. If he is, then you’ll know how to conduct your conversation. If he isn’t, then you’ve just made the conference attendee laugh and created a friendly environment for chatting!
Friends are precious gifts from God. It’s a blessing to attend conferences together. Share the expenses but count the cost of always staying together. Pray for one another. Dare each other to be bold and branch out at the conference.
Good friends will understand. Every Charlie Brown knows the value of a Linus.
Sally Matheny’s mission in life is to encourage others. Her work is published by Keys for Kids; Practical Homeschooling; Christian Devotions; Write2Ignite; and other publications. She serves on the leadership team for the Write2Ignite Writers’ Conference and is a member of SCBWI and ACW.
As a writer, one of the best (and scariest) things she has ever done, was attending a writing conference alone. It opened up doors to life-long friends and exciting writing opportunities. She plans to attend BRMCWC and will be looking for nervous faces to befriend.
Connect with Sally Matheny at www.sallymatheny.blogspot.com, on facebook, and twitter.
You can make reservations for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference by calling 1.800.588.7222.