A Guide for Introverts to Get the Most out of Writers Conferences
A guest post by: Laurie Finkelstein
Laurie Finkelstein is the author of the award-winning Next Therapist Please, a book that juxtaposes humor and romance with anxiety, depression and OCD. A member of the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society, she is among the panelists for the Am I Crazy or Just Creative? panel during the West Coast Writers Conference’s (WC2) BCX and Digital Author writers conferences.
For attendees of WC2, or for attendees of any writers conferences and panel presentations, here is Laurie’s Guide for Introverts:
Dress for confidence — Feeling good about how you present yourself bolsters confidence and gives you an instant boost of bravery.
Speakers want to speak to you at writers conferences — After a workshop, panel, or keynote, if a speaker impacted you in any way, let them know. Your conversation doesn’t need to be long, but you never know what tidbit you might learn from the conversation. Speakers want to connect with the attendees. Without you, they don’t need to speak! You are a valuable addition to the writers conference. If you are extremely intimidated, a simple “hi” and “thank you” is all that is needed. That may open the door to some great nugget of information.
Most writers conferences attendees are in your shoes — They want to connect just like you do, but may be just as introverted. Introduce yourself. Ask questions about what panels they have attended or plan to. Talk about your genres. Look for people that are not in a group. They probably would like to connect with others, but may be intimidated. You never know who you will meet. The next conference is a little easier and you may remember some people from a previous conference. Now you have people you know!
Commit to enlarging your comfort zone — Stretch yourself, but if you have gone too far and anxiety increases, take a break, leave for a bit to regroup. If the optional dinner seems to overwhelming socially, skip it. But know that you may have regrets, so the next time, you increase your comfort zone a little bit more.
Find a quiet place if you need a break from it all — This could be your car, hotel room if it is located near the writers conference, if you are on a campus, find a quad with benches. Anywhere you can have some quiet time and refresh your mind or regroup for the next set of workshops. Know your energy levels and take breaks so you are not too tired for evening events. Have a snack and drink to get recharged.
Practice — You may never be a social butterfly. But each time you extend yourself, the discomfort lessens. You may never be a great conversationalist, but you might be a great listener. People love to talk and they need listeners! Be curious and ask questions. Most of all be yourself. You are unique and interesting.