Saturday, September 16, 2017

Making the Most of the Ridgefield Writers Conference

Preparing for and attending a writers’ conference require time and energy. These tips for before, during and after the Ridgefield Writers Conference should help you make the most of the event and create a foundation for what comes after.

Before the Conference:
Faculty: Research your faculty workshop leader, and prepare a list of questions about your work and the craft of writing in advance. Also research other faculty, in case you want to talk with them or work with them in the future.
Panels and Keynote: Research the panelists and keynote speaker, and bring your questions to the Q&A sessions. If time runs out, you may be able ask questions afterward.
Website: Study the conference website, especially the Writers Resources section, for helpful information. Keep checking the site for updates.
Workshops: Carefully review all the information from your workshop leader, to learn as much as possible about the art and craft of your chosen genre.
Registration: Arrive early to get a feel for the event and to meet your fellow writers, the faculty and the coordinators. Also carefully review the information in your registration packet.

During the Conference:
Networking: Get to know your fellow writers, the workshop faculty and conference coordinators. Exchange business cards and contact information with others so that you can keep in touch. Compare notes with other writers about what you’re learning.
Book and Resource Tables: Visit the faculty book table to take home fine examples of work by these experienced writers. Also visit the resource table to collect as much information as you can.
Readings: Sign up and read your work at the attendee reading time on Saturday afternoon; it will give you practice reading your work before a friendly audience.
Panels and Keynote: Meet the panelists and keynote speaker, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Workshop: Keep any reading lists your workshop leader provides, and read and retain all the workshop handouts. Where you need clarity about feedback or other workshop information, be sure to ask questions. Before you leave the conference, aim to have some idea of the next steps to take in your writing life. If you’re not sure, come to the What’s Next in the Writing Life breakout session on Saturday afternoon.

After the Conference:
Collaboration: Consider collaborating with a fellow writer. Also consider working with a faculty workshop leader (yours or someone else) after the conference.
Networking: Keep in touch with your fellow writers and others you meet during the conference.
Feedback: Give the workshop feedback you receive from your faculty leader and fellow writers time to gel after the conference. Your workshop leader provides a worthwhile overview and details on how to improve your work, as do your compatriots, especially if a particular critique arises more than once. Your fellow writers also bring another key perspective to the table — that of the audience.
Next Steps: Consider making a list of next steps for after the conference, and ask your faculty workshop leader for guidance on this. Ask the conference coordinators about the best resources to meet your writing needs. Considering creating your own writing community, and seek opportunities to stay involved and active in your writing life. Check the conference website for final information.

Parting Note
If attending a writers’ conference sounds as if it involves more than just inspiration, it does. But consider this: “Creativity has much to do with experience, observation and imagination, and if any one of those key elements is missing, it doesn’t work.” Bob Dylan, Chronicles Volume One

For more on the conference, visit Ridgefield Writers Conference.