Items You Won’t Think to Bring to a Writers’ Conference

As you all know according to my blog about Writers’ Conference series, I went to my first conference recently. Being new at it, I didn’t know for sure what should be brought along. The obvious things were packed. I even posted on the regional ACFW Facebook page to ask general questions. I got some great answers, and set to work preparing for my four day trip.

I’m one of those over preparers. You know, the ones that have the husband asking if the kitchen sink is tied to the roof of the van. I made my lists and checked it not twice but three times. There were enough clothes to last eight days instead of four. Extra shoes and flip-flops rested on the pocket of my suitcase. Notebooks and folders filled my laptop bag.

What I didn’t count on was the empty slate of a dorm. It was sixth grade camp all over again. I even had to climb over bed rails to get in my bed. There wasn’t even an old bar of soap to wash my hands with. You can imagine how upset I was that me, the one ready for anything in a moment’s notice, hadn’t considered there’d be no hand soap.

Later that day at dinner, I met some fabulous people and I realized I hadn’t considered bringing business cards. It was a loss of opportunity to network with other writers. While I passed their cards down the line at the table, I had nothing to give with my personal information. One more thing forgotten.

On the second day it poured. And I mean poured. Before I left, everything in my mind was a sunny picture of perfection. I hadn’t counted on rain: i.e. no umbrella. The cafeteria was on one end and the chapel and classrooms were on the other. I was ready to pull my hair out and weep like one of the best paid Jewish mourners there was. What was I to do with my laptop bag and my papers? What about my hair and outfit? I had three appointments that day. Yet another item never considered.

It’s the small things that get you in the end. I learned a lot in those four days. Conferences can be in all kinds of settings: hotels, camps, colleges. It could rain or be sunny, hot or cold. If you’re on your way to a conference, here’s a quick list of extra things to consider bringing:

  • Hand soap
  • Towels/hand towels/wash cloths
  • Umbrella
  • An extra pillow/blanket
  • Extra notebooks and folders to help organize papers
  • A rainproof bag for important papers
  • Comfortable shoes if you’ll be traversing a long walk throughout the day
  • A bag on wheels. You’d be surprised how many things you’ll want to carry along from workshop to workshop, and they can get very heavy.
  • Business cards
  • An extension cord in case you want to take notes with your laptop and there’s no close plug
  • A sweater for fluctuating temperatures
  • Your manuscript and proposal on a flash drive in case you need to print more copies  

Be over prepared. In the end you may not need everything, but you’ll be so glad you had these items on hand when the unknown happens.

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