In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, September 08, 2011

ACFW Tips: Conference Don'ts

Me & Lisa Jordan with Rachelle Gardner, our wonderful agent.

On Tuesday I gave you a quick list of ACFW Dos:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Reach out.
  4. Have fun.
  5. Slow down.
Today I want to share my list of ACFW conference "Don'ts." Go ahead and use them for any conference you might attend: the MBT Storycrafters, Mount Hermon, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (and it's sister conference: Southwest Christian Writers Studio), Writing for the Soul.  Let's get started:
  1. Don't try and do it all. Do yourself, your roommates and everyone else at the conference a favor and realize there is no way you can go without sleep from Thursday through Sunday. You cannot talk to everyone. You cannot take every workshop. You cannot retain all the information thrown at you, no matter how good it is--and it's all good! Pace yourself. (See #2 of the "Do" list.)
  2. Don't put all your hopes and dreams on this conference. Come prepared to pitch. Come prepared to sell your novel with passion because you believe in it like no one else. And then realize that's all you can do: Pitch your story with passion. What happens after that is not under your control. If you don't land a contract or an agent, is the conference a bust? No. You've learned craft. You've connected with other writers. More importantly, if you don't land an agent or you don't win a Genesis, are you a failure? No, no, and no. Remember: God values you because of who you are (His) not for what you do. 
  3. Don't compare your conference experience with someone else's. Go ahead and celebrate another writer's success. Don't wish you were them. You have your life story and they have theirs. Don't stare at what they have and overlook what you have. You may be sitting in the crowd this year, but who knows where you'll be next year. And if you're still sitting with me in the crowd--hey, we're a fun bunch! 
  4. Don't miss the prayer room. There are the appointment rooms. Tense. Tense. Tense. There's the classrooms where we learn, learn, learn. There's the room where we dine. Noisy, noisy, noisy--but in a good way. Sit back and listen to all the "he saids" and "she saids." There's the bookstore. Dreams. Come. True. In all your comings and goings, take time to slip into the prayer room. It's quiet. It's a place to stop. Refocus on Who created you as a writer in the first place. Take a friend and pray together. Or go alone. Being there just may be the highlight of the conference.

In Your Words: Can you think of anything I've forgotten? Any expectations we should leave behind? Any "don'ts" that we should remember as we prepare for ACFW or any other writers conference we hope to attend?

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At 9:10 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

I like this post, Beth. The way you focus us on "don'ts" that will help conference goers is a nice take on the "Don't's" when at conferences. I will have to remember these for future conferences.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Melissa Tagg said...

Your second point reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from blogger fave Jon Acuff: Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle. Love it.

Also, hmm, I think I know the photographer who took that photo of you and LJ with Rachelle...very well, in fact... :)

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

It's always good to tuck some of this info away for when you can use it.
And, M-Tagg--be ready to snap a few photos for me again, will you, please?

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Evangeline Denmark said...

Do not...Read your pitch from note cards hanging around your neck, unless you are on medication that makes it impossible for you to speak coherently.
"My name is Evangeline."
*flips card*
"I write spe-cu-la-tive..."
*flips card*

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Good one, E. Take someone with you to prompt you.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger Sarah Forgrave said...

Didn't make it to the prayer room last year. It's on my must-do list this year. :) Great list, Beth!

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Jennifer K. Hale said...

This will be my first ACFW Conference so I am nervous, excited, and absorbing the dos and don'ts! Thanks for the advice, Beth. I'm looking forward to meeting you!

At 6:10 PM, Blogger cbalmony said...

Like this post. I have been very overwhelmed with info about the conference, but this was short and to the point. Easy to keep in mind. I will use the prayer room! Just went to buy new clothes for the conference and the young man checking me out said, "Oh those are usually boring." I said, "Oh, no. These are writers." I should have added, "and committed Christians, too." Somehow, hanging out with like-minded people in faith and passion, just gets me excited. Can't wait to see you all there.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Delia Latham said...

Wonderful post, Beth! I, too, appreciate the positive way you presented your "don'ts." This will be my first ACFW Conference as well, and I keep reminding myself that is is not the be-all and end-all of my writing career. I want to get everything I possibly can from this experience, but I certainly don't want to miss something wonderful God has for me in some other area of the event because I'm focusing too much on the contacts/possibilities/appointments, etc. I think we should all just pray that we stay open to ALL of the blessings God has in store for us at this conference, and the opportunity to BE A BLESSING to others, as well. So exciting! :)

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Glad to hear the Don'ts were encouraging to everyone.
And writers conferences are never, ever boring! Ever.


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