You know what’s awesome? Meeting other writers. Networking. Conferences. Learning the craft. Having someplace to go. Being child-free. Adult conversations. Going to lunch without needing a high chair.
You know what’s not awesome?
Figuring. It. Out.
Why Writing Conferences Are Tough
Now that LM has graced my life with his adventurous spirit and fast little legs, attending writing conferences is a little different than it used to be.
Read: a crap ton different.
No more can I just pack a bag, grab a flight, write on the plane, network with industry experts—all while writing my next novel and tracking trending Instagram hashtags. Nowadays there are snacks to buy. Babysitters to find. Calendars to coordinate. Dog boarding to schedule. A house to pretend to clean. Laundry to get behind on.Leaving is never really leaving as a parent.Click To Tweet
Even though I enjoy my time away from home and family, I think about whether LM ate all his lunch. Did he sleep through the night? Did the dogs get enough exercise? Did Husband switch the laundry to the dryer?
And heaven forbid I miss the kid while we’re apart.
What Helps Me Not Stress It
- Find a local conference. I’m super lucky and live in Colorado Springs, where the yearly Superstars Writing Seminar happens every February. I attend every year. (Denver is only an hour away, and there are other conferences that happen locally as well.)
- Avoid weekday conferences. I think most conferences happen on the weekend (a huge boon for childcare. Have fun, Husband!) but some may occur through weekdays.
- Use a family babysitter. When I have a writing conference, it’s Grandma time for LM! Flying her out has been cheaper (and easier) than finding a babysitter for full days. I purchase the flight early, or it gets crazy expensive.
- Board the dogs. My two crazy vizsla’s need lots of exercise every single day, so I can’t just leave them at home. Boarding them is one less thing to think about. Caveat: There have been years when I didn’t board them for money purposes. Not as fun for me!
- Text message updates. Hearing from Mom that LM hasn’t eaten dog poop (he’s determined) or sliced open his face (happened two weeks ago) makes it easy for me to disconnect again for a few hours.
- Spend lots of quality time before. Plan for more after. It helps me to pad my schedule with extra LM time before the conference and then after to enjoy being with him again. If I know I’ll have it, I’m okay with letting go of the hours we aren’t together.
- Mentally prep to be gone all day. Knowing ahead of time that I won’t see him that day (or several days) helps me fall into the ‘author’ headspace.
- Drive (or have a car) if local. Controlling my transportation (because I mostly attend local) helps me so I can leave if something comes up with LM.
- Be prepared for the conference. I’m rarely organized enough for this but reading books by the instructors beforehand, studying the schedule, and knowing what kind of information I want always helps direct the conference on the right path.
- Starting a to-do list. I don’t try to comprehend everything I learn during the conference. Instead, I start a list of things I want to change, do, or think about. Then, in the weeks following, I start implementing changes and new goals.
Separating myself from LM on occasion is crucial to professional success, but also to our relationship. It’s good for me to miss him. It’s good for him to miss me. Using writing conferences as the way to do that also advances my career, gets me into a new headspace, helps me network, and figure out new ways to succeed.