4 Post-Conference Tasks

2013logosmall This weekend I had the pleasure of attending and teaching at the Pennwriters annual conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s always a joy to head back to Pennsylvania, where I lived for a number of years. Pennwriters is an excellent resource for beginning and experienced writers. The community is generous, savvy, smart and fun.

Now it is post-conference Monday, and my follow up list is calling my  name. What do you do the day (days, week) after a conference?

It’s all about NOTES.


1. Thank you notes: Send a few words to express your gratitude to the organizers and volunteers who made the conference happen. For a big annual conference, you can bet the coordinators donated a year of their lives to ensure the 2-3-4 day event went smoothly. A brief email or written note will show your appreciation for their efforts–and they’ll remember your graciousness.

2. Congratulatory notes: Was there a lifetime achievement award? A writing contest? A volunteer award? Did the luncheon speaker’s message move you? Being feted in front of a big group is great, but it is often a blur. A day or so later, when this person is still in the glow, a “Hey, I think you’re wonderful!” message extends the glow. Do that for someone.

3. Decipher your notes: I taught two workshops and attended 6 or 7 more. My brain is all a-jumble, but I took copious notes. I’ll let them sit a day or two before converting my handwritten scribbles to a file of useful tips and questions. I organizes notes by topic, so for each workshop I attended, I’ll add what I want to remember in files: Short Story Notes; Character Notes; Goal-Setting Notes: Why Donald Maass Thinks We Should Write Good Books Notes. If you have a question about something you jotted down during a workshop, or can’t read your own chicken scratch, try sending a brief email to the instructor to ask for clarification. You might send a note of thanks if the workshop was useful.

4. People notes: I collected a stack of business cards and book marks from the freebie table. I made connections with some lovely people, but am I going to remember what we talked about if I run into this author, agent, editor next year? Will I recall what they’re writing? Probably, but maybe not. On the back of business cards, jot down a reminder: Writes literary short stories…. Is writing a cancer memoir…. Loves Dr. Who!  It’s lovely to be remembered, and no one will ever know if you used an aid to help your memory.

Good manners go a long way in this world, but it’s also good business to be gracious and show your appreciation after a successful event. And the Pennwriters conference was definitely a successful event!




7 thoughts on “4 Post-Conference Tasks

  1. Great points, Ramona. Right now I’m trying to get everything done at home that I didn’t get done because I was at the conference. Then I will sit down and go through your list again.

    I wish we’d had more time to hang out together!


  2. Oh, I was sorry to miss Pennwriters this year (maybe next year funds will permit) but this is such an excellent reminder that, when the conference is over, your real work begins. You need to parlay all that good information into fuel – for connections, ideas on writing and to build community. Really great post!


  3. Hi, Romona —

    Great advice. We don’t say thank you enough to the people in our lives, especially sending handwritten notes. Unfortunately, I think we are the last generation to write (as in handwritten) thank you letters or cards. There is something special about receiving a handwritten thank you. When someone goes to the trouble of actually writing a note, stamping it, and mailing it to you, you know that they really appreciated whatever you did.

    A frequent excuse is that it’s too long after the event. My theory is “better late than never.” If I received a card months after an event, I’d be delighted.

    Grace Topping


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