Sunday, October 23, 2011

My first conference presentation

Around this time next week I'll be making my debut as a conference presenter, speaking on How to Write Like a Full-Time Author When You Can't Quit Your Day Job at the Emerald City Writers Conference. I may not write what I know, but I figured I'd better present what I know. (And due to my pinched nerve saga, I'm adding some tips about overcoming adversity and restarting after your body and/or mind derails you that weren't there when I sent in the proposal.)

My husband happens to be an experienced and popular conference speaker within his field (web development), so I asked him for tips--they boiled down to "make a detailed outline, maybe even write the whole script out, and practice with a timer. Pad or cut as needed." But I'm certainly open to advice from others. Also, for my fellow writers with full-time day jobs: any tips you wouldn't mind my sharing with the group? I'd give you credit, of course. Or any areas you struggle with that you think such a workshop should address?


  1. Not to put any pressure on, but I mentally circled this workshop the day the workshop lineup came out, and highlighted it in orange when I printed out the actual schedule. I am fully expecting it to change my life.

    What I most need help with is how to break my habit of staring at the page, searching for the right next word or line of dialogue. You do not want to know how many minutes I waste in this fashion.

    And here's a tip, maybe. Don't go on Twitter at all some days. Because even if I'm disciplined about only checking for ten minutes or whatever, invariably there will be some discussion interesting enough that I'll have to log back on later to see what else has been said. If I know it's one of my designated "days off" from Twitter, then it's easier to resist.

    Yay! Can't wait for this workshop, and for the conference as a whole.

  2. Thanks, Cecilia! I like the Twitter tip, and I'm glad you're excited about the workshop because it means at least one person other than me and the moderator will be in the room. :-)

  3. My writing/working tip would be 'think about what you are prepared to give up to give yourself time to write'. Because you need to be prepared to make some sacrifice to write, particularly if you have kids AND work AND want to write. I gave up TV.

    As for speaking, I do a bit of this with my job and I think you have to find what works for you. I'd caution against actually taking a script with you on the day as the temptation is then to look at the script and that tends to throw you off your stride, as your eyes search the text - but a lot of people find it very helpful to get exactly what they want to say down on paper. Personally, that doesn't work for me - my MO is to scope out my talk with bullet points on slides - that gives me the bones of what I'm going to say. Then I handwrite some detail onto a paper copy of my slides and do my first run through verbally - this is not me reading out a prepared script but talking to my scribbled notes. So if I've written, 'think about what you're prepared to give up', I'd maybe actually talk for 2 or 3 mins on that point. That first verbal run through tells me if I'm way over or under on time and also how comfortable I am talking about each point I've put down and what things I might want to look into more. I then refine that 2-3 times more - more scribbles and talking it out. On the day, I'll take with me a paper copy of the slides with maybe 10-12 extra words written on each slide as prompts.

    Oh, and I try and start with a question or a show of hands or something to get a bit of engagement.