Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I Have Conference Phobia


First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who participated or dropped by for the Laughter is the Best Medicine Blogfest. It was a huge success and just...amazing. THANK YOU!

Now, on to today's post.

I think I've almost gone to a writer's conference four times in the last year. Really. They seem like a great idea. ARCs and meeting writers and agents, oh my.

But every time I'm ready to hit the REGISTER button online, I freeze.

I can't do it. Why? Well, since you asked, here's a list outlining my neurotic reasoning.

1) Guilt for leaving my family
2) Guilt for spending money
3) Guilt for...guilt's sake
4) What if they call me a fraud/wannabe and march me out
5) What if they say, "You have a decent day job, give it up girl!"
6) What if they notice my big pimple and say I can't play in their reindeer games
7) Fear of actually pitching a live human agents


Sigh. One day, one day.

What about you? Do you have conference phobia? If you got over it, got any tips for me?

In the meantime, please take a moment and visit Sarah Fine's blog, where she answers this month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question on how to deal with the loss of your writing mojo! Check out Laura's previous post and mine (Writing Mojo No Mo), and stay tuned for Deb's next week!

65 comments:

Angela Ackerman said...

I was seriously freaked about going to my first conference. AND I had total guilt for spending the money and all the things you listed, but at the end, I knew this was a stepping stone to a career. I also knew that a conference was a mental leap too--both to myself and my family--that writing wasn't 'just a hobby'.

What helped me was starting small--finding a conference only a quick flight away and one that would be attended by a few people I knew online. Being able to plan a meet up before the events started was such a blessing, and calmed a lot of my fears. I wasn't alone--I would know people there. :)

Do go! They really are wonderful opportunities to learn and aren't nearly so scary once you get there. The enthusiasm and the fact that you get to be around people passionate for the same thing you are is such a total high all your worries will fall by the wayside. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Laura Pauling said...

And you can always start by just going to one day and not spending the night. And you don't have to do the agent/editor crit the first time. In fact, I suggest holding off on that until a manuscript is absolutely ready to go. Small steps but possibly very worth it.

J. L. Jackson said...

I haven't been to one either and understand your feelings. One of these days I'll bit the bullet.

Lisa Potts said...

I'm afraid I can't help because that list of yours on the reasons why NOT to go mirrors my own. Thanks for posting because I'm paying close attention to the answers!

Madeleine said...

Awh I'm sorry you feel so guilty about it all. I had a very sleepless night last night feeling guilty about our injured cat. The vet was lovely this morning and made me realise how silly I was being.
I read once in 'Feel the Laughter' by Sharon Komlos that guilt is the least productive of all emotions. Take care of yourself I wouldn't wish guilt on anyone. :O)

Artemis Grey said...

Lydia, you should check out Sirens. Seriously. I am just like you.

http://www.sirensconference.org/

I had never gone to a writer's conference (and I still haven't gone to any conference but Sirens) and I was a total wreck over the idea. I don't travel, I've worked with horses all my life and similar to human children, you can't just wander off and leave them at will.

But then Kristin Cashore posted on her blog that she would be attending this conference called Sirens, for its inaugural year, and I so *love* Kristin... so I bit the bullet and signed up. BEST. CONFERENCE. EVER.

No joke. Kristin was there, Tammy Pierce, Sherwood Smith and others. Year two (last year) Malinda Lo, Holly Black Sherwood Smith, Marie Brennan, Terri Windling, Janni Lee Smith, and many other awesome folks attended. All the authors walked around like they were one of the gang and talked to us hopefuls like we were their contemporaries. Between events you can go to lunch with each other, dinner, anything. I've made SO many friends, professional and fellow aspiring authors alike. And it's a smaller conference, like a couple hundred people at most.

This year is the third (and if there aren't enough attendants, *last*) year of Sirens, so if you can I encourage you to check it out. Many authors have returned even when they weren't 'guests of honor' simply because they had so much fun the first time.

Old Kitty said...

Awww!!! I've come across blogs of bloggers who have been to conferences and they all seem to have had a great and wonderful and productive time and with lots of pics too of them meeting up with online friends and making new ones!! And learning lots of useful writerly things too!

I think you should go! :-) Yay!! Good luck!! Take care
x

Liza said...

I would go for the seminars only. I hate the idea of pitching my writing to a live human...it scares me to death.

cherie said...

I haven't been to any writer's conference. I used to think of writing as a hobby, a creative outlet, and it's only recently that I've decided "Boo-hoo, hobby. I can write, baby, and I'm doing this for real." Still, I've never been to one because of the guilt you listed above. Sigh.

BUT, I'm working on it. My goal is next Spring when the local conference takes place--less travel expenses, and it's only for a day, right? Now if I can just get over my jitters...

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Me too!! In fact, TODAY I'm going to review the list of conferences and workshops in my area...and finally sign up. The anticipation is always scarier than the activity, so this should be no different. Right...?

Jayne said...

Ditto ALL of it! Especially the guilt parts... But your post makes we want to go back and register for a conference I've been wanting to attend for years. It's all the juggling to get there, and worries of leaving the kids, that keep me from it the most... But you've inspired, Lydia! ;)

storyqueen said...

I have conference phobia, too...for all of the reasons you mentioned!

But I think I am going to SCBWI LA this year...maybe.

Shelley

But have I hit the register button yet? No......

Angela Felsted said...

Yes, yes, yes on the guilt. It's the reason I've yet to go to one.

Chris Phillips said...

I was freaking out this weekend at the scbwi conference I went to. Then I slammed a 5hr energy and just dived in. After all: I'm like really good looking, a lot of their ideas sucked way worse than mine, and I'd put a band-aid over my pimple so I could tell people I had been in a knife fight. But it was still tough. I will probably walk around like I own the place next time because of all the amazing compliments I got during my first page review and private crit (that I also freaked out about before doing it.)

Anne Gallagher said...

I haven't been able to go to one either. No money. But I want to go just so I can meet up with some blog friends. Oh, and maybe learn something too.

Jessica Bell said...

If only I had the opportunity to attend one then maybe I'd get the phobia ... ah ... one day

E. Arroyo said...

Oh jeeze, I'm not alone. I stare at the registration on the screen, and stare, and stare. Maybe we should start a support group. LOL

Carol Kilgore said...

Conferences are so energizing. I've been to three. I love them. That said, the first one I attended was small. The next two mid-size. Another writer told me to go to small ones first before jumping into something huge. It was good advice for me. Everyone is always friendly - even the agents. Take a deep breath, and plunge in.

P.S. - I know the guilt, too. It goes away :)

Munk said...

You must. If you ever will, meaning, if you are planning to be a writer, you must. The sooner the better.
Regarding the guilt: it's who you are, your family will understand, and you are demonstrating to them your passion. Regarding the fear of being worthy: You surprise me. You are worthy, we are all worthy--take the plunge.
The Willamette Writer's conference in PDX in August is a great little starter conference. Choose two agents to pitch to and give it a try. There is also a pitch practice on Thursday night if you are game.
Then just walk the floor and attend some workshops (low stress).
If you go, let me know.

Bossy Betty said...

Sweetheart! Life is short! Push the button.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love going to conferences. I'm going to my first RWA one this year in NYC and have signed up for a pitch session with an agent. Okay, now that scares the life out of me (hopefully that't not what happens when I pitch to her). ;)

notesfromnadir said...

If you find one in your area then you should go because you'll have fewer excuses not to! Just go w/ the idea that you'll be learning a lot & making several new friends. Anything else is a bonus!

Carol Riggs said...

Aw, Lydia! There are writers of ALL levels at conferences, so no worries there. That's how we improve! ;o) Now pitching is more of a knee-knocker, but really, they are people too. And at your very first conference, you wouldn't have to pitch or do a critique with an agent/editor. That would help your nerves.

What you need is for someone to go WITH you! That would help. And perhaps not to go to an intimidating hugeous conference. Start smaller, a local one. Those are cheaper, and the info is just as good. I actually met my agent at an Oregon SCBWI conference, so you don't have to go to national conferences if you want to be "discovered," either.

Good luck!

Erin Cole said...

Hi Lydia,

I love your neurotic reasoning!

Yes, I have conference phobia and will be attending the Willamette Writers Conference this year.

One thing that was a huge benefit to going the last time was that I learned where I was at as a writer. I found that a lot of the material covered in the workshops was material I had already been practicing. Also, talking with other writers only strengthens your craft and clarifies your goals. Well, we'll see if that happens this time!

lbdiamond said...

Yup, I have conference phobia. Maybe I'll have to join up with another writer I know and we can take the plunge together. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge. ;) )

Krispy said...

I have conference phobia too! Part of it is that I don't have any material that's ready, so I feel like I wouldn't be getting the full benefit of going to one. On the other hand, people seem to have so much fun, and I'd love to meet other writers and bloggers and snag some ARCs!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Never been to one, so I'm in the same boat as you!

Tracey Neithercott said...

I've never been to one either. The thing that most scares me is the possibility of not knowing anyone there. I'd be okay if writer friends were going, but the thought of not knowing anyone makes me nervous. I'm way to shy!

Connie said...

I've been to conferences, but only the free ones. It's only here in the South that I've ever seen free writers conferences--usually they're sponsored by a university, successful writers, a publisher, etc. (I'm going to one this Saturday.) They've been very good and very encouraging. In fact, I met one of my dearest friends at a writers' conference.

Jennifer Hillier said...

I was scared when I went to my first conference! And the thought of going to another one this summer scares me, too. But you know what? Everybody kind of feels like that. And once your nerves pass (and they do) you'll totally enjoy yourself. There's nothing as energizing or inspiring as being around other writers. So go for it! :)

Michelle Teacress said...

It's true - so hard to click that button and make it official - but SO worth it. Buy yourself a new pair of shoes and call them your brave shoes, then wear them while you click 'register' and while you go to the conference. Good luck!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have never had to give a speech at a conference but I have had to face up to a phobia I have.
I face it straight on and hope luck is on my side.

Good luck
Yvonne.

Nas Dean said...

I've never been to a conference either.

All the best with yours!

The Red Angel said...

I have ALWAYS wanted to go to writing conferences but never get the chance due to time/money/things going on at home. I can imagine that I would have the same exact fears if I did get to go though.

By the way, I am SO glad I participated in your Laughter Is Medicine Blogfest! I laughed for literally hours when I went through all the entries, and I was still laughing when my parents came home and we sat down for dinner. It was the most I'd laughed in a very, very long time. So thank you for such a silly day! :)

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

M Pax said...

I pitched 4 major agents last summer. I thought I would die of phobia before hand. I prepared and I did all right. Most of them liked me. All of them told me to submit. I wish I had been able to attend more workshops, but my pitches has me busy all day. I missed the sci-fi convention because of a family emergency in November, but will go this year.

I negated making any plans this year as it's been up in the air whether we're moving or not.

Some of my friends said they're dragging me to some intensive thing next year. But conferences are great places to learn. No one will say you're a fraud. Honest. And most writers are neurotic / phobic / anxious / socially inept. Agents get that.

Anyway, now I'm not scared to do pitches any more. I still got to get the query thing down though.

Sarah said...

I sympathize. I went to one last year and haven't gone to another. It was great, really, but the whole time I felt like a fraud. Everyone there was SUPER nice and supportive, so it was really just my own problem. I did go to some really useful workshops, though, so it probably would be worth going to another one at some point!

Steph said...

Just go as an observer! Then you will know what to expect next time!

catherinemjohnson said...

Me too lot's of guilt! (spent way too much money on books for one thing) I almost went to the recent one in Niagra (a last minute decision) and then I couldn't because it clashed with my parents visit from UK. I feel so bad that I was a bit relieved. Thank goodness for WriteOnCon.

Alleged Author said...

I have conference phobia because I'm afraid I'll get lost on the way there. I'm notorious for getting lost. You can do it!

Meredith said...

I totally have conference phobia! I haven't even looked into conferences in my area, though I know I should. I have that fear of feeling like a fraud. Someday we'll get over it, I hope!

The Words Crafter said...

I've never been to one. I've been to teacher conferences and they were lots of fun....

alexia said...

I was neurotic at my first conference. I'm not good at introducing myself to strangers, so I was terrified. But the rewards are so much greater, you just have to go. Learning, making friends with other writers, getting feedback and face time with agents - it's all indispensable.

I made the best of it by preparing very thoroughly (business cards, portfolio, writing samples, verbal pitches memorized, etc). I planned my outfits and everything. It's scary but exciting!!

L.G.Smith said...

I've been to several conferences, and I always have a great time. Made some new friends, too. And I'm a big believer in meeting agents face-to-face to get to know what they are like. It's hard to tell from a website profile sometimes, if you know what I mean.

LTM said...

sigh. I don't know. I've never considered doing one, but hubs keeps telling me I *should* do one. I guess now the point is moot. Or moo... :D

I say do it. If you end up being a super successful writer, or even a moderately successful one, you'll have benefited your fly, right? Do it do it do it... :D <3

Trisha said...

I loved the Laughter blogfest :) Thanks for co-hosting!

I wish we had more writer's festivals here. I'd so totally go!

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have a major conference phobia too. I have never been to a conference, so as I know nothing about it, the fear is really high.

Thanks for hosting the laughter Blogfest. I really enjoyed being a part of it.

Theresa Milstein said...

Guilt for guilt's sake. Ha! I know it's hard, but go and enjoy yourself.

This the first year that I didn't have to worry if my deodorant would hold up. I actually relaxed during agent and editor critiques. Took me four years to get there!

Liz P said...

Well you about summed up my worries. Plus I don't have anything published and I'm still working on my novel. I'd worry about feeling like a total noob.

I guess at some point we'll have to take the plunge!

runawaybride said...

The phobia for spending money.. wondering if it is worth it. Thats what I have.

Lynn said...

I've started small, attending my local writer's guild conferences. That is the key for me. Start small and gain confidence and networking skills to attend the bigger ones.

Jonene Ficklin said...

Oh, yes, I hear you on that one. I'd still be a writers conference wallflower if it wasn't for a good friend who goes and talks me into keeping her company. I gave my first pitch last year and it bombed, big time. But now I know at least one way to do it wrong - and hopefully someday I'll get it right. I still have hives from it though, and a huge smile. How can something so scary feel so great?

vbtremper said...

With 51 comments ahead of me I can't read them all to see if someone else already said this. So I'm sorry if I'm repeating...

JUST DO IT!

-Vicki

Susan Fields said...

Give one a try, and you'll probably find that you love it and lost your phobia. It's always hard to walk into a roomful of strangers by yourself. Do you have any writing buddies who might go with you?

Heather said...

I love conferences, they are excellent! But they do take some getting used to. I recommend going with a friend, it makes mingling easier. And carefully choose your conference based on your goals. Then have fun!

Donea Lee said...

It's not just conference phobia, I think I have social phobia in general!! I'm pretty terrified of chatting up strangers in general. (I figure that's why I became a writer...my thoughts come out better on paper...)

STILL - I've attended 4 writing conferences and I'm very happy I did. 2 of them, I had a cousin/fellow writer go with me and that helped, of course. But, I attended 2 pretty big conferences on my own.

Trust me, there are plenty of ways to blend invisible and dodge people if you want to. BUT - when someone did get me talking, they were all very nice. I found that they had the same fears I did. But, we all have a passion for writing and want to make the most of it. And conferences really help you do it.

Even if you don't pitch to an agent - if you attend one of their workshops, heck! That counts. Throw it in your query.

Life IS short! Take a deep breath and push that registration button! :) Best of luck!

Olga said...

I am with you on this. I'm terrified of the artist's conferences that I get invited to. The uncertainty scares me.

Beth said...

It's definitely scary the first time, but it does get easier. I have learned a lot at conferences and made lots of friends. Just go for it!

Cold As Heaven said...

I've never been to a write conference, but I've been to may science conferences and given talks in most cases. First time, almost 20 years ago, I was nervous like Hell. I even said "Oh Shit!" from the podium, when I double-clicked the forward-slide button, due to my shaking hands. Now I'm totally cool about it.

Cold As Heaven

Corey Schwartz said...

Lydia,

Start with a small one NOT Nw York or LA. I went the NYC conference and I was miserable. It was so huge and overwhelming. (and expensive!) Now I go to the NJ conference every year. While it has grown quite large, it has a much more intimate feel.

Another thing that can help is to plan to go with a friend!

Taryn Tyler said...

I definately have writer's confrence phobia.

Also I have a blog award for you if you want it. :D

Leslie Rose said...

Can you say "sleepless nights?" I was petrified before my first SCBWI day long workshop, and then THE conference. I over prepared like crazy and then had the flutters once I got there. Then something magical happened, I started learning more, and more, and more. Now I look at events as seminars or courses to take and I love all the fantastic info. that comes from them.

Lydia K said...

I am pretty overwhelmed by the support you guys have for me and my silly (or not so silly) phobia. And you guys are pushy! In a loving way!

I'm going to think about the Willamette one. You guys rock. Thank you!!!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

I don't have conference phobia but I think it's because I've been lucky enough to have a writing buddy to go with me! It makes it MUCH less intimidating to have a friend. I have hesitated to go to too many because they are expensive. But I think you should definitely pull the trigger and go! I'm sure it'll be worth it. :)

WritingNut said...

I've never been, but I know I would be terrified! Every single one of those thoughts would go through my mind too.

Leslie Rose said...

Thanks for the follow, Lydia. Now go push that submit button for the conference.

 
ALL CONTENT © 2012 THE WORD IS MY OYSTER / BLOG DESIGN © 2012 SMITTEN BLOG DESIGNS