This weekend I had the pleasure of attending and teaching at the Pennwriters annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s always a joy to head back to Pennsylvania, where I lived for a number of years. Pennwriters is an excellent resource for beginning and experienced writers. The community is generous, savvy, smart and fun.
Now it is post-conference Monday, and my follow up list is calling my name. What do you do the day (days, week) after a conference?
It’s all about NOTES.
1. Thank you notes: Send a few words to express your gratitude to the organizers and volunteers who made the conference happen. For a big annual conference, you can bet the coordinators donated a year of their lives to ensure the 2-3-4 day event went smoothly. A brief email or written note will show your appreciation for their efforts–and they’ll remember your graciousness.
2. Congratulatory notes: Was there a lifetime achievement award? A writing contest? A volunteer award? Did the luncheon speaker’s message move you? Being feted in front of a big group is great, but it is often a blur. A day or so later, when this person is still in the glow, a “Hey, I think you’re wonderful!” message extends the glow. Do that for someone.
3. Decipher your notes: I taught two workshops and attended 6 or 7 more. My brain is all a-jumble, but I took copious notes. I’ll let them sit a day or two before converting my handwritten scribbles to a file of useful tips and questions. I organizes notes by topic, so for each workshop I attended, I’ll add what I want to remember in files: Short Story Notes; Character Notes; Goal-Setting Notes: Why Donald Maass Thinks We Should Write Good Books Notes. If you have a question about something you jotted down during a workshop, or can’t read your own chicken scratch, try sending a brief email to the instructor to ask for clarification. You might send a note of thanks if the workshop was useful.
4. People notes: I collected a stack of business cards and book marks from the freebie table. I made connections with some lovely people, but am I going to remember what we talked about if I run into this author, agent, editor next year? Will I recall what they’re writing? Probably, but maybe not. On the back of business cards, jot down a reminder: Writes literary short stories…. Is writing a cancer memoir…. Loves Dr. Who! It’s lovely to be remembered, and no one will ever know if you used an aid to help your memory.
Good manners go a long way in this world, but it’s also good business to be gracious and show your appreciation after a successful event. And the Pennwriters conference was definitely a successful event!