I’m going to be honest; I wasn’t aware of what the AWP conference was a few months ago. The first goal of my research was figuring out the acronym. AWP: Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Simple enough. For a newbie to this whole writer’s conference experience, here’s what I’ve been able to gather during my research that I hope will help me get the most out of my first conference:
- Prepare as much as possible. The AWP app has been an amazing tool in organizing the panels I’m interested in attending. It’s also helped me find the booths of publishers I’m excited to talk to.
- Bring a portable charger. I can see it now: I’ll be right in the middle of Putting Her Back in the Narrative: History and Herstory when my phone prompts me to adjust it to low power mode. From there I’ll frantically look for an outlet, and find one if I’m lucky. But, with a portable charger, I’ll be able to maintain a full charge of my phone and continue accessing my schedule on the AWP app.
- Be an active participant. For any beginner, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and sit back, taking everything in. But, being an active participant rather than just an observer will provide opportunities to network and share ideas with like-minded writers.
- Know what you want to take away. Between the bookfair and the numerous panels, AWP is going to be a sensory overload. Before delving in, pick at least three booths you know you want to visit, and some panels which you just have to go to. Keep your goals realistic so you leave getting exactly what you want out of the conference.