The Restless Writers are planning to attend at least part of the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (SiWC) in October. This highly respected conference is a whirlwind mix of workshops, keynote speakers, master classes, trade shows and editor/agent appointments, plus a Blue Pencil Café where writers can connect directly with speakers.
The speaker line-up is exciting—Anne Perry, Jack Whyte, Diana Gabaldon, kc dyer, Tim Wynne-Jones—plus there’s a whole host of editors and agents from the literary and film industries, all hoping to sign some great new talent.
I’ve just been through two jam-packed conferences (the Indexing Society of Canada annual conference in Montreal and the Canadian Public Relations Society annual conference in Regina), and I’ve picked up a few tricks to make the most out of any conference experience:
- Rest up…you’re going to need it: Most conferences pack heaps of activities into two or three days. So take your vitamins, boys and girls, and get a lot of sleep beforehand.
- Have a learning strategy: Decide what you want to achieve at this conference. If your current WIP is an agent-ready non-fiction proposal, focus on maximizing your time in those one-on-one appointments. If you’re still in the first-draft stage, plan to check out “Creating Memorable Characters” or “Worldbuilding.”
- Reach out at the networking events: Even if you’re not the schmoozing type, take a deep breath (and some mints) and start talking to other conference attendees. You might find yourself befriending an editor who works with the agent you’ve been trying to snag, or a picture-book writer who knows some phenomenal illustrators. One serendipitous meeting might be the best thing that happens to you.
- Be inspired: You’ve just heard Robert McCammon talk about perfecting dialogue and you’ve had a breakthrough on a key scene. Go ahead—skip lunch to spend some quality time with your laptop. This is why you’ve used valuable vacation days to attend this conference. Get writing!
- Review and reflect: You’ve just had three days of intensive workshops, stimulating conversations and the odd epiphany. Don’t let it go to waste. Take some tips from 8-bit Holly, and act on what you’re learned.
If any of our readers have tips for making the most out of our experience at SiWC, we’d love to hear them!