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Kim Wilson
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Getting the Most out of Attending Writers' Conferences
by Claudia Tynes

On October 28, 1989, I attended my first writers conference, the Washington Area Writers' Conference held on the Prince George's Community College campus. What a frightening experience! Why? Because to say, "I am a writer,", was an aspiring dream and not a reality in my life at that time.

Since that initial conference, I have attended several writers conferences including the Sandy Cove Christian Writer's Conference and the American Christian Writer's Conference. I've just returned from the Sandy Cove Christian Writer's Conference and retreat which was held on September 29 through October 3, 2002. I have served as a faculty member for this conference since October 1999.

These conferences have impacted my life as an aspiring writer to becoming a published writer. By meeting with editors and publishers in one-on-one interviews, I received guidance, direction, and prayer for my writing and speaking ministry.

Are you inspired or called to write or speak but you just don't know where to start? Looking at the big picture, conferences can be frightening for a first time attendee. I remember how certain words used by the seasoned writers were foreign to me. Words like query, SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope), genre, niche, and marketing made me feel jittery too.    

Perhaps you are a beginner or intermediate writer and the idea of attending conferences makes you quiver and shake. Maybe you have already selected the writer's conference of your choice. Now what? Here are a few tips that helped me get the most out of the conferences I attended, and they can help you too.

1. Review the conference package and brochure carefully. Pray for the conference and for guidance in selecting which seminars and workshops are of interest to you.

2. To get full benefits from the conference, arrange to stay for the full duration of the conference whether it's one day, three days, five days, etc.

3.  Grab all of the freebies you can muster from the freebies book tables. This is not the time to be selective. You can fine tune and review your treasures when you return home from the conference.

4. Take advantage of the time allowed to meet with editors, publishers, and freelancers regarding manuscript submissions. If you do not have a manuscript for review, schedule an interview anyway and talk with them about your ideas for submission of potential manuscripts. Make a list of questions and concerns before your interview. Do not be afraid to ask questions during your interview.

5. During lunch times and at round table discussions, sit with your favorite instructor, editor or publisher. This relaxed atmosphere is your time to ask the questions you were afraid to ask while in the teaching sessions. If you are a shy person, listen and grasp tidbits from the conversations of others.  

6. While attending seminars and workshops, take plenty of notes and get all the handouts offered. Also purchase copies of tapes of  workshops you attended as well as those you wanted to attend but couldn't because of scheduling conflicts with other workshops.  

7. I have found that after the conference is over; I suffer from brain overload. When you return home from the conference give yourself a few days to unwind. Then review your notes, handouts, and references frequently. Organize and sort out those freebies. Make new files for those markets you will use immediately. Pack the other materials in a box or filing cabinet,  label them "For Future Use."

Are you considering attending a writer's conference in the near future? If so, try following these tips to get the most rewards and mileage out of the conference. You will be glad you did.

Claudia N. Tynes is a freelance writer, speaker and poet. She writes short-stories, articles, devotionals, greeting cards, and poetry for Christian periodicals. In addition to serving as a columnist for the SMWGroup News, her work has appeared online and in print publications including The Spirit Led Writer, Listen, Excellence, The Christian Communicator, The Upper Room and The Secret Place magazines. Nuggets of Gold, her book of inspirational poetry, can be purchased online from amazon.com or contact her Web site. Claudia  resides in Clinton, Maryland with her husband James, and son Rodney. Visit her Web site at http://members.tripod.com/~write4-u









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