Monday 29 July 2019

Getting the Most Out of Conferences

I was recently able to attend one day of the Mslexicon Conference in Leeds. This was of course organised by the wonderful Mslexia, my favourite writers’ magazine. 

Now, I’m not going to give you a full report on the sessions I attended.  That wouldn’t be fair to those who have paid a lot of money to be there, myself included, and indeed to the speakers who make part of their livelihood from providing content at such events but I will share with you what I came away with. 

It’s always important when you go on a course or attend a conference that you resolve to act on what you’ve learnt and you put in some mechanism for making sure that it happens. 

So, I’m kind of doing that here. I’m stating in public what I will do next as a result of having attended the event. I expect you to hold me to account. 

I was very pleased to hear Claire Malcolm speak. She is from New Writing North.  Now, I still have a few problems with this organisation. It often seems more like it ought to be named New Writing North East and we need a New Writing North West. Those darn Pennines! But her enthusiasm was very convincing and I’m now resolved to use the site more often.   

She also gave a new template for writing bios which I’ll now consider using. 

A plenary included an interview with Sophie Hannah  My goodness, she is enthusiastic. She has instigated The Dream Author Coaching Programme  and I’ve signed up for that. 

The final session was “Find Your Tribe” which formalised the networking that is always so useful at conferences. I’ve now found another group of local people with whom to share critiques, another group with whom to work on events and I’ve also volunteered to do some editorial work. 

There was a glorious pop-up book shop: I’m keen to use them for some of my own events.  I picked up a fascinating book by Steven Pinker: A Sense of  Style.  I always like Pinker’s work and this seems to address writing particularly. Yes, treating yourself to a book at a conference is absolutely justified. You’ve paid a lot already and you’re probably attending at a weekend between two working weeks. You deserve a treat. 

As always at these events, you get a few interesting freebies.  This time there was a handy clipboard, a pen, the usual useful canvas tote bag, a copy of the mag and one of Shaun Levins Writing Maps How to Write a Story There was also a very useful Do Not Disturb Sign. One side had “I’m thinking” on it and the other “I’m reading”.  I’ve made use of this for our downstairs loo that doesn‘t have a bolt on the door. It also offers a discount for the Literary Gift Company Also in the bag, and also form the Literary Gift Company was a little yellow duck who was reading a book.  Did someone slip that in whilst we were networking? I only discovered him when I got home. Anyway, it looks great in my new bathroom.

No comments: