Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How training for a conference is like being a professional athlete

I feel like I’m in college again during registration time. Yes, I was the geek that spent days mapping out the ideal semester schedule. I even had back-up plans so if a class filled up. Now I’m planning and reading up on workshop classes for the upcoming Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. This will be my first major writing conference since I turned my part-time writing career to a full-time so I’m excited and nervous.

Like most events in my life, I still relate everything back to my world of competitive dance. And yes, being a professional dancer (I got paid to perform and teach) is like being a professional athlete. I quit that career avenue because of injury, but I learned a lot of still applicable qualities like endurance. So since this is my first major conference I can’t tell you that these steps work, but this is how I’m getting ready for the conference.

Step one: Practice hard. I’m revising, perfecting and practicing my pitch. A great way to do this is by visiting Pitch University. This week they are holding a pitch fest, where you can pitch your book and get actual agent feedback on it next week. Ok, I’m waiting until the last minute as usual, but I will get this in. It’s risk free and lot less scary than having your first big pitch be at conference.

Step two: Study your material. Be prepared and know what you’re doing. I bought “How to Get the Most Out of a Writer’s Conference" by experts Bob Mayer and Jennifer Talty. It’s always wise to learn from people who have done this before. I’m currently reading this book.

Step three: Know the schedule. This is where my college registration OCD comes in. I’ve read the schedule of courses and planned which ones I feel will best accomplish my goals as an author. In addition to just reading the topics, I’m reading up on the presenters as well. It’s always smart to know whom you are working with and what their background is. For example, in dance I always read up on the judges and workshop instructors in advance. It helped to know if they would prefer my character jazz or my lyrical. In writing conference terms, it’s helpful to know if a particular presenter has accomplished my goals and in my areas of interest. I write YA and MG and I’m all ready published in non-fiction. So depending on the topic, I may not be helped as much by someone that only writes a specific subgenre in romance and is only talking to people that want that specific goal. I want to learn from authors that are multi-genre writers. Learning from their experiences would most help me reach my goal to be a multi-genre author.

It’s always wise to read up on whom you will be learning from. You never know what similar interests you might have. After all, because I was prepared going into one of Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer seminars is how I ended up being a non-fiction author on dogs. That was not my ultimate goal, but sometimes the right moments can lead to greatness.

Step four: Train for endurance. Any athlete must train for endurance and writing is very much and endurance based activity. I have a set routine. I’m up at 5am for my morning workout before beginning my writing day at 5:30am. Any conference is tiring but since I’m use to a jammed packed, daily routine I’m ready for the exhaustion of a conference. Plus, I now feel that writing full-time with a now 11-month-old daughter can prepare me for ANYTHING.

Step five: Take time to relax. If you read my review or better yet, bought and read "Writer Wellness" by Joy E. Held you know the value of adding relaxation to your writing routine. Before reading this book I was only focused on pushing and driving myself for my goal. Though I still push myself in anything I want to accomplish I now realize that by taking time to relax my mind and body actually makes me more effective in how I go about accomplishing my short-term and long-term goals.

Over the next weeks leading up to the conference I'll be writing on conference related themes. I’m exciting to be attending this year’s RWA Annual Conference in New York City. Last year the conference fell over my due date, so I was a little busy. Are you going to conference? Have you been before? How do you prepare? And let me know if you want to meet up. And after the announcements, enjoy some motivational music.


My book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog,” is out by Who Dares Wins Publishing. A percentage of the profits go to The Texas A&M Foundation to the benefit of the Neurology Section, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinarian Medicine. To learn more about the book, which is currently selling for $2.99, click here.

Weekly Blog Mash ups: For my first blog mash up I'm sharing some of my favorite people to follow. They know writing, the craft and the industry, If you're a writer, you must follow these blogs.

Write It Forward- Who Dares Wins Publishing

Ending Unplanned- Rachel Harris

Warrior Writer- Kristen Lamb

PW Creighton- Phillip Creighton

Piper Bayard- Piper Bayard

Anna Writes- Anna DeStefano

No comments:

Post a Comment