Sunday, June 19, 2011

Writing Conference ROI: After the Conference

During my "buzz-session" at the OWFI conference, I talked about how important it was to not squander the time and money spent on conferences, classes, and coaching. The frugal part of me related it to a gym membership. When I am paying an annual or monthly fee, I want to get my money's worth! Say I pay $50 a month. If I go 3 times a week, it's like paying about $4 each time; but if I go 5 times each week, I get the same gym benefits for only $2.50 a visit! What a bargain! I get healthier and can be a cheapskate at the same time!

Here are a few hints to help you get a healthy impact from your already spent conference dollars:

  • Start immediately. I met one writer who actually skipped a few of the Saturday sessions because he was so inspired to write and attempt to fill a whole in his novel. That may be too soon for most of us, but the idea is sound: Get moving before the afterglow starts to fade. If one of your goals was to get back into the habit of writing, don't wait until you are completely unpacked and you've responded to all of your emails, because there's always going to be something. Even if it is only 15 minutes, longhand, scribbled on the back of a few handouts you received during a breakout session, it's a start. The writers who stood up in front of you didn't have unlimited amount of time to write, they created a routine that worked with the time they had. Actually, many of the most prolific writers I know are full time moms and/or people with full time day jobs. They don't have the luxury of waiting until later; they know they want a scene written, and they will wake up before the sun, and the kids, to get it down.

  • Share the wealth. Not all of your writing friends could make it to the conference. Being the kind and generous writer you are, you are more than willing to spill some of the 'secrets' that will open the door to publishing success. Generosity aside, there are added benefits. You'll have a better chance of remembering it (or reminding yourself to add it to your writing tasks) once you've had a conversation about it. Also, explaining an interesting concept or idea always helps you to fully understand it. The discussion in your writing group will more than likely add a layer of comprehension that didn't have time to sink in while at the conference.

  • To Do List. Before you call the front desk to check out, make a list of all of the different items you want (or need) to apply to your writing life. Don't leave anything out, this is a rough draft (you know all rough drafts must include what, at first glance, is improbable and impossible). The next time you return to your work space (which will be right away!), pick out the 3-5 most important items, and start breaking them down to bite-sized pieces. For example, if you've decided to start a blog, the first bite would entail picking which route you would like to go: add to your website? Use wordpress? Blogger? Based on your familiarity with the different options, set a deadline in the near future for choosing. Then give yourself other deadlines for setting it up and publishing your first post. You could be up and running, the knowledge about blogging from the conference still fresh in your head, within days of returning by just taking the baby steps toward the journey.
  • Reimburse yourself. A few posts ago, I asked if you would take $1000 and throw it off of a bridge. Of course not. What I've been trying to emphasize in this series of posts is the importance of making your money work for your writing life. Published authors, hobby writers, part-time enthusiasts-- all want to turn their investment into meaningful writing. Whether writing is a means of income or not, consider the money spent as a business expense that you must be reimbursed for. You are the writer in this business, so nobody can do it but you. This doesn't need to be taken literally (dollar for dollar), but it can. Say you spent $1000. What types of writing sessions did you attend that could help you recoup your costs? If your book is already out, did a marketing session give you a few tips to increase your reach? Are you reselling the articles you own the rights to? Are you considering taking on a smaller ghostwriting project based on your day job expertise?

  • Time is money. It may be worth the whole bundle to you just to have learned one or two ideas that will make your writing easier, more efficient, or less stressful. Maybe you've been struggling with formatting your own e-book and its cover. A few tips in a session either gives you the tips you've been missing or a few contacts of people who can do the job for you, saving you tons of time and frustration. Another time saver: discovering that you have been submitting to the wrong agents, because you had misidentified your genre. Rejection is hard enough, and if you've been hearing "good, but not for us" it may not just be a blow-off! That relief is alone worth a chunk of change!

I hope these posts have helped you with your conference experience. Getting into writing doesn't have to cost much money, but when your writing work needs additional tools, it's worth it to make the investment. A writer's conference is full of these shiny, new tools. The secret is to not leave them abandoned in the dusty corners of your mind.

Happy Writing!

Did your return from your last conference with focus and renewed energy, or on information overload? If you are looking for ways to keep your own writing life in line, consider becoming a part of the Excuse Editor Coaching Connection. You'll receive writing tips and information on coaching programs,as well as a  free mini-e course to turn your writing ideas into writing actions! Sign up here.


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