Monday, June 29, 2009
A Fever of Preparations
In case you haven’t noticed, the Playground is in a fever of preparation for RWA National Conference in a couple of weeks. Two exactly. Most of us leave on a Monday.
Anyway, today I thought I’d offer a few tips on preparing for writer’s conferences, whether Nationals or a regional conference. These experiences can be some of the most exciting and nerve-wracking activities in a writer’s journey. I hope these tips might smooth your way just a bit:
1. Plan your wardrobe around one color.
As we mentioned last week when we talked about shopping, planning around either black or brown for your wardrobe can cut down on the number of clothing items you have to take. For instance, I’m taking a black skirt with 2 different shirts for my cocktail events this year. One black pair of shoes that will go with those outfits, my black dress pants, and one of my formal dresses. That’s really helpful because shoes take up lots of space and add up weight quickly.
2. Get travel size bottles whenever possible.
I’ve been grabbing travel size soap, shampoo, and toothpaste at the store over the past few weeks. Taking these instead of full size bottles can really cut down on the weight of your suitcase. Need specific products that don’t come in travel size? Purchase some refillable bottles.
3. Wear new shoes before you go, even if it is just around the house.
There is nothing worse that breaking in new shoes at conference. That is just a blister waiting to happen. If you’ve purchased new shoes (which I have), be sure to break them in before you go. I have some just-purchased flats that I’ve been wearing out and about, but my new black heels aren’t exactly made for running errands. My family laughed when they walked into the kitchen to find me wearing them with a pair of gray shorts and a t-shirt, but at least I won’t have to deal with as much foot pain in DC.
4. Prepare your story pitches before you leave.
In the rush to get everything ready, working on your editor and agent pitches can get shuffled to the background. But trust me, you don’t want to be up until 1 a.m. the night before, stressing over just the right word to describe your hero. (Been there, done that.) Instead, you should be getting a couple of extra hours of sleep. Do yourself a favor and put together your full-length and elevator pitches before you go. It will save you a lot of stress later.
5. Write out your schedule, but leave room for the unexpected.
It is said that a lot happens in the bar at National conference, and that’s certainly true. Even if you don’t meet your dream editor there, lots of hilarity can ensue with the right group of friends. I have a lot of events that I have to attend this year, so this list-maker definitely has her schedule already worked up. I’ve also listed a couple of workshops that I’d REALLY like to attend in person. Other than that, I’ve tried to leave some space free. You never know what you might get swept up into during that down time.
6. Take whatever steps necessary to leave home without worrying what you’ve left behind.
I’m not talking about stuff here. You can always purchase something you forgot to take with you. I’m talking about peace of mind. My husband makes fun of me for the extensive lists I write out for those keeping my kids and the freezer full of convenience foods they’ll probably leave in favor of fast food, but that’s okay. If putting myself to all that trouble means I can fly to Washington with a little less worry over leaving my loved ones, then I think it is worth it. So do whatever you need to, in order to feel more comfortable about what is happening in your absence. You’ll be happy you did.
7. If you haven't already, go read the fine print on your travel requirements... now.
While this may seem self-explanatory to well-seasoned travelers, I rarely fly anywhere except to conference. Imagine my surprise when I looked up the luggage weight limits and found a little tidbit about checking my luggage in before I get to the airport. If I don't, they are going to charge me an additional $5 for doing it when I get there. Go read all your flight information now, so you aren't surprised and scrambling at the last minute. You'll be glad you did.
These are some of the travel tips working through my brain at the moment. With conference 2 weeks away, this stuff is at the forefront of my mind. But thanks to Kathy, I’ve got 2 full pitches and an elevator pitch ready to rehearse. My wardrobe is planned and the suitcase is sitting in the living room for me to drop stuff into it as needed.
For those of you heading out to conference, or used to traveling, what other tips can you offer those of us about to wing our way to our nation’s capital?