Earlier this month I had the opportunity to go to a conference for writers, and other creative professions in science fiction and fantasy (LTUE). I’ve attended this conference three or four times before and I love it every time. I’m certainly not the only one that enjoyed it, check out this review here. I also attend religious conferences each year, that I enjoy as well. I’ve found that conferences are a very interesting thing.
Every conference has a broad topic that attracts a whole bunch of people. When you get there, you can look around and see all these people that are like you, but also very different. This conference I went to this month was full of creative people who loved sci fi and fantasy. This included people who were dressed up in costumes, I saw capes and wizard hats, and people dressed in business suits. I could relate to everyone there, but we had a whole spectrum of types of people.
With the variety within the tribe, you get to find new ways of looking at the topic of the conference. Rather than a generalized view of fiction, I got to see unique ideas from people who made their lives about fiction. A conference isn’t just about being around people who like the same things you do, it’s about learning all of their unique perspectives on the things that interest all of you there. This is just the experience from being physically present.
Workshops and classes offer another treasure trove. With hundreds of topics included, and discussions that blow your mind, you get an overload of information and ideas. But you can’t stop to think about it yet, because there’s another breakout session that you can’t miss. A full day somehow leaves you dead tired and excited enough to write an epic novel. Then you decide to go back for another day of it. I thoroughly enjoyed the three days, but by the end of it, I’m really tired.
The real puzzler about conferences is that we get home tired, but still so excited about everything, and with a notebook full of notes, but then life keeps chugging along. Sometimes, the next time we even think about those notes is when we’re jotting down another set at the next conference. After spending a chunk of time and money, you’d think we’d be better at using what we learn.
I’ve had it pointed out that notes don’t do any good tucked away on a shelf, but you have to make plans out of them. I know that I really like planning, but I understand that some do not, and I sometimes don’t have enough time to plan all the plans I want to make. So my solution and challenge is this: to pick one action.
There are a few ways you can do this, there can be an overall action as a result of the entire conference that includes multiple steps, or you can pick a simple action from each speaker or class you took notes from. Since I’m done with school and intend to make a career out of writing, my big action is to write daily. I want to pick an action from each of the classes I went to, probably make a writing exercise or story from each one.
So, the next time you go to a conference, enjoy the experience, but make plans to grow from it. Maybe you can pull out the notes from that last one you attended and start working on some actions now. If you have ideas about how to apply what you learn from conferences, please share them! And comment with your favorite conference you like to go to as well.