Writers Conferences for Introverts

July 21, 2014 · About Me, Writing Events

In a few short weeks I will be heading to the Romance Writers of Australia’s annual conference. Last year I was a conference virgin, this year I hope to return a little more experienced, a little less nervous, and be able to keep my fangirling in check. The last one may or may not happen. There’s only one problem with conferences: I, like many writers, am an introvert. Introvert-extrovert   When I use #hermitlife on Twitter I do it without irony. I built a corporate career on my ability to appear confident and in-control, but I can promise you it’s all a lie. Meeting new people scares the crap out of me, big crowds…no thanks. Social events need to come with a life raft, in my opinion. So, if you’re coming to conference for the first time (or even if you’re a seasoned conference-goer but you struggle with the social aspects) here are a few tips that helped me last year:

  • Find someone to meet up with (my version of a life raft). It might be someone you chat with on FB or Twitter, someone from your writers group. Having a designated person to meet can help make ease the stress of day 1 jitters. This person can be your ‘conference buddy’ but don’t let them be the only person you speak to.
  • Promise yourself that you’ll make at least one new acquaintance. It’s scary, but I put myself out of my comfort zone last year and met some absolutely incredible people (Eden Summers, I’m talking about you!)
  • Find someone who is standing by themselves looking as awkward as you do and say hello. Chances are they’ll be grateful that you took the pressure off them having to make the first move.
  • Smile.
  • Approach an author you love and tell them which of their books if your favourite. Trust me, this never goes down badly.
  • Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you at a workshop, you’re both there for the same reason so it should be easy to make conversation.
  • Make use of the Friday costume cocktail party, we’re all dressed up and it’s an easy conversation starter. Wear a mask if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • Talk about books. That’s why you’re all there, it’s the best topic of conversation because aspiring romance writers are often voracious readers and even the most introverted writer will get fired up about their favourite book.
  • Relax. It’s not life or death. Take a break in your hotel room if you feel overwhelmed, call your husband/boyfriend/bestie/Mum if you need to. Then get back out there.

If you’re coming along to RWAus14 this year and you see a girl with a stuffed Llama, that’s me. Come and say ‘hi’ and I promise I won’t bite. More than likely I’l be working up the guts to go and chat to someone myself.

14 Responses to “Writers Conferences for Introverts”

  1. Eden Summers says:

    Great post, hon. I was one of those major introverts last year, unsure whether to crawl out of the safety of my hotel room.
    I can’t wait to catch up again this year.

  2. Lauren James says:

    Fantastic tips, Stef. I was so overwhelmed last year, but everyone was lovely. I had fun with girls I already knew and made some fantastic new friends. I can’t wait to do it all again this year!

    • Stefanie says:

      Everyone is really lovely, I think I was expecting it to be more like conferences I had attended through work but thankfully it was so much more relaxed.

  3. Great advice, Stefanie. Intrigued by the llama! I’ll be tracking you down :-)

  4. Roz Groves says:

    Fabulous post, Stefanie.

    I think you have most definitely nailed my experience last year too.

  5. Greta post Stephanie! As a major introvert myself, I completely agree with all your comments. This year will be my 4th conference and I can’t wait! There is just something so amazing about being with your tribe :)

    • Stefanie says:

      It does feel like a tribe, doesn’t it? So nice o be surrounded by people who understand the need to write :)

  6. Great advice, Stefanie. Part of the reason I rarely attend conferences is because I’m an introvert and the thought of having to socialize in a crowd is overwhelming. Good on you for putting yourself out of your comfort zone!

    • Stefanie says:

      I understand that completely, and it was WAY out of my comfort zone last year! Definitely worth it though :)

  7. I’m not really an extrovert, I just look like I am. When I’m nervous I talk and talk…(awkward). I always talk to people who are on their own and I have made lots of friends at conference that way. I often feel like a goose but better to be a friendly goose than a lonely one. I look forward to meeting you :)

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