ACFW Conference Tips: Don’ts (the fun ones!)

Me & Lisa Jordan with Rachelle Gardner, our wonderful agent.

On Tuesday I gave you a quick list of ACFW Dos:

  1. Be yourself.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Reach out.
  4. Have fun.
  5. Slow down.

Today I want to share my list of ACFW conference “Don’ts.” Go ahead and use them for any conference you might attend: the MBT Storycrafters, Mount Hermon, Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (and it’s sister conference: Southwest Christian Writers Studio), Writing for the Soul. Let’s get started:

  1. Don’t try and do it all. Do yourself, your roommates and everyone else at the conference a favor and realize there is no way you can go without sleep from Thursday through Sunday. You cannot talk to everyone. You cannot take every workshop. You cannot retain all the information thrown at you, no matter how good it is–and it’s all good! Pace yourself. (See #2 of the “Do” list.)
  2. Don’t put all your hopes and dreams on this conference. Come prepared to pitch. Come prepared to sell your novel with passion because you believe in it like no one else. And then realize that’s all you can do: Pitch your story with passion. What happens after that is not under your control. If you don’t land a contract or an agent, is the conference a bust? No. You’ve learned craft. You’ve connected with other writers. More importantly, if you don’t land an agent or you don’t win a Genesis, are you a failure? No, no, and no. Remember: God values you because of who you are (His) not for what you do.
  3. Don’t compare your conference experience with someone else’s. Go ahead and celebrate another writer’s success. Don’t wish you were them. You have your life story and they have theirs. Don’t stare at what they have and overlook what you have. You may be sitting in the crowd this year, but who knows where you’ll be next year. And if you’re still sitting with me in the crowd–hey, we’re a fun bunch!
  4. Don’t miss the prayer room. There are the appointment rooms. Tense. Tense. Tense. There’s the classrooms where we learn, learn, learn. There’s the room where we dine. Noisy, noisy, noisy–but in a good way. Sit back and listen to all the “he saids” and “she saids.” There’s the bookstore. Dreams. Come. True. In all your comings and goings, take time to slip into the prayer room. It’s quiet. It’s a place to stop. Refocus on Who created you as a writer in the first place. Take a friend and pray together. Or go alone. Being there just may be the highlight of the conference.


In Your Words: Can you think of anything I’ve forgotten? Any expectations we should leave behind? Any “don’ts” that we should remember as we prepare for ACFW or any other writers conference we hope to attend?

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