Even though 2018 marks my eleventh year of attending Crimebake, a mystery writing conference held each November in the Boston, Massachusetts area, I still came home with a “Conference Hangover.” You know the feeling. Your brain is throbbing with volumes of information, your mouth is dry from interacting with agents and editors, and you’re queasy from too many hotel meals.
Now, it’s back to reality, and you’re not quite sure what to do to regain your writerly health. One answer is to wait out the feeling. After all, within a day or so your system will return to normal, and you can head back to the keyboard to bang away at your work-in-progress.
A better answer would be to partake of some of the remedies I’ve found that enhance my conference experience and dissipate the hangover in record time:
- Schedule a block of uninterrupted time to review all your notes from workshops, panels, and conversations. Highlight important information, then organize by topic. Make a list of action items, then prioritize the list. Print the list and hang it where you write.
- Pull out your calendar-paper or electronic-and determine a reasonable schedule for completing the action items. Assign due dates and enter the actions on the calendar.
- Find an accountability partner. Contact a writer-pal, share your plan, and ask him or her to hold you to task. Celebrate together each time you achieve one of your milestones.
- Build your network by sending follow-up notes to people you met. An email is good, but consider standing out from the crowd by mailing an actual thank you card. Be sure to enclose your business card.
- Send the manuscript or first three chapters that were requested. Don’t wait. Do it immediately. You want your work in front of the agent or editor while you are still fresh in his or her mind. Don’t be one of the many people who fail to submit after a conference.
- Decide what conference(s) you are going to attend next. If registration is open, sign up. If not, mark your calendar with the registration date(s) and start saving your pennies (or dollars.)
Did you get through at least part of the list? Pause…reward yourself for a job well-done…then head back to the keyboard!
Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She volunteers as a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and as a trustee for her local public library. To learn more about Linda and her books visit http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com.