Anyone else been suffering from a serious case of conference drop over the last week?
Sadly, there is no cocktail bar at my house where I can find like-minded people to chat with well into the morning. There isn’t a breakfast buffet laid out for me each day with Coco-Pops (breakfast of champions) and an omelette chef to cater to my every eggy whim. And there certainly aren’t three-hundred likeminded writers in my house ready to talk story and plot and marketing and book boyfriends and publishers and … well you get my drift.
Every year, the three days of conference goes by in a blur of hugs, alcohol and information and, every year I promise myself that I’ll hold onto that crazy, excited, I can conquer the world feeling…
Until I get onto a plane and am so exhausted I fall asleep in my seat.
Until I get home and have all the ‘normal’ things to get done.
Until I have to go back to the ‘day job.’
Reality is really a bitch.
And so, this year, while waiting for said plane where – yes – I did fall asleep in my seat, I was thinking about ways to maintain my motivation over the coming 12 months.
This is what I came up with.
- Make a plan.
I love a good list.
I also know that if I don’t write it down, I’m going to forget it within about 5 minutes of saying ‘oh, I must remember that.’
So, while I was availing myself of decent lounge lattes at the airport, I wrote a list of the things I needed to wrap up after conference. The volunteering commitments I have over the rest of the year. The things I need to send off, and the stories I want to write. I also committed to Sunday night check ins with a few of my writing tribe, so that I had some accountability over the coming months.
- Send your stuff off.
I didn’t pitch at conference this year – but I did participate in a Twitter pitch during the conference and received a request (yay me!).
So, like I would advise to any pitcher who asked… I’m going to send my manuscript off before the end of the month.
If you pitched and received a request, if you met someone and you want to maintain that relationship, if you heard something which has encouraged you to make a submission to a particular publisher – DO IT.
And do it soon.
It doesn’t have to be immediate (although the sooner you send it, the sooner you can tick it off your list). But it’s generally advisable to send materials requested in a pitch within about three months of the pitch. And if you’re just looking to maintain that contact you made, you’re better to do that when people still have a chance of remembering you (there are a lot of faces at conference!).
- Stay in touch with your peeps.
The peeps I met at my first conference in 2015 remain my peeps. They’re extra special. They also live FAR away from me. And as I can’t convince any of them to move (I’ve tried) we have to come up with other ways to stay in touch.
Start a Facebook Group, a WhatsApp chat, a Twitter list. Set up regular Skype calls or, if you’re lucky enough to be a bit closer, regular meet up times. Make an effort to stay in touch because these are the people who get you and who understand how frustrating it is when life chucks roadblocks in the way of words. They’re always going to be gentle with you, but will tell it like it is.
Also, look for other groups in your local area. I work monthly with a critique group, and have recently also been invited to join Breathless in the Bush. Both of these are groups I can meet with face to face monthly and, together, we can work on maintaining motivation (as well as honing skills and reading books!).
- Go through your notes
If you’re like me, you’ll have picked up a nugget or two of gold while sitting in the various sessions at conference.
Read through your notes and make sure you find them again. Remember them. Write them on pieces of paper and post them above your desk. Write them down in your diary or stick them to your computer screen. Do what a friend did a few years ago and make up sticky labels to stick on her computer with her favourite sayings from conference.
And then, commit to trying them.
Whatever they are.
They may work for you. They might not. But you’ll never actually know unless you try to use them, or adopt them in your day to day life.
- Have a crack at a competition
I have to declare a conflict of interest here… I’m the Ripping Start Contest Coordinator and I’d love everyone to enter my contest this year – as well as all of the other contests on offer through RWAus.
But, more seriously, competitions are great to keep you working towards a goal. While you may fall over the dreaded third judge (it happens), even if you don’t place in a competition, you will generally get some solid feedback you can use to advance your writing.
Just a tip though: don’t get ‘too much’ feedback, it just confuses you.
And give feedback some time to settle before you decide what to do with it. You’ll know in your gut what feedback is spot on and what veers wildly off into the trees. Trust yourself to make the right choices about what to do with it!