(Photo Credit: Ruth Nickle)

This is my favorite time of the year: The American Night Writer's Association Annual Conference! I know it should be Christmas, but, since I'm being honest here, it's this magical event that is held each year. An annual, three-day spectacular conference that sends my creativity into overdrive. If you've never been to a writing conference, do it. I get lots of questions from people, especially writers, who want to know how to get the most out of these writing conferences.

1. Take Notes

Seems simple enough. But I don't mean mere scribbles, I'm talking about legit, hardcore, notes when you feel inspired about something the speaker is saying. Keep a pen and paper handy the entire time. This year I was inspired when the founder of ANWA spoke about how she created this magnificent group. Often times if I overheard a conversation going on that peaked my interest, out came my notepad. I usually take a 1 subject notebook, college ruled and pack it with relevant, inspiring content.


2. Make Friends

I'm an extrovert 100%. Yet when it comes to my writing I tend to be more subdued and introverted. I'd rather sit in a corner and plot out my next novel. Most writers, or creatives, tend to fall on the introverted side, and that's okay, but you really must overcome the need to stay a recluse during these conferences. Make friends. Lots of them. This year at the conference I made tons of new friends and I'm following them on all of their social media outlets.

3. Homework-Do it.

Anytime a speaker tells you to apply this-or-that to your writing, put a huge star by your notes. You now have homework! When the conference ended (last week) I spent a majority of my free time doing the homework the various speakers, authors, and literary agents mentioned. My writing has improved drastically in just one week, I can't wait to see how it looks in a few months.

4. Speaking of a few months...

Don't let the spark die. Just like any relationship worth having, you've got to nurture your writing by giving it time, quality time. Remember the nifty notebook I take with me to all my conferences? Well, I give myself time to review the notes every week, even if I only read one outline. There are also speakers who provide notes via PowerPoint, make sure you download those and review them every so often.

5. Return the Love

One last thing, make sure you engage with your new friends on social media. Follow their Twitter accounts and retweet items, go show some love to their Instagram and Facebook accounts. Foster these relationships and grow them. Also, make sure you thank the people who have worked behind the scenes to make these writing conferences available to you.

Now, go, write!