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H is for Hello

August 8, 2012

Today, there are about ten weeks left until the Conference. It’s hard to believe, considering it’s eight billion degrees outside and it won’t be in October when we all gather at the Orlando Marriott Lake Mary for the Greatest Writing Conference on Earth. Many writers are introverts by nature. They get along best with a small circle of people they know well, like their critique group or their families. A group of strangers in a hotel with a bunch of stuff going on? Not so much.

But if you don’t break down that barrier at the Greatest Writing Conference on Earth or any other conference, you’re leaving some valuable low-hanging fruit on the tree. My own story works in this regard. I’m fantastic on a mic in front of a lot of people. One-on-one, if I have to figure out a way to make discussion, it’s not the same for me. Saying hello to strangers isn’t my best thing.

And yet, several years ago, when I was at Barnes and Noble in Carrollwood, I took a chance when I heard someone talking in front of a group about writery stuff. I asked in, then I sat down and listened, then talked with the people after. When I went to the conference, I already knew people. Then, I took some more chances. Then I volunteered. Now I’m part of the whole thing. I don’t have to work hard at approaching people because they approach me.

Except at the receptions. Then it’s still hard for me, especially if I’m trying to strike up a conversation with one of the faculty, agents, or publishers. It’s nervous-making for me. It’s work.

It’s the place where I forget one of the key reasons to come to the conference. Sure, there’s the stuff that you learn. And there’s the food. And the banquet. And the opportunity to pitch your work to agents and publishers. But there’s also the other people there. And by virtue of your being there, you have something in common with them–you’re a writer. There’s something to talk about!

As a writer, you have a lot of the same struggles and triumphs. Even more, if you’re a new writer, you have a chance to ask questions of more experienced writers.

What do you write?

How do you deal with distractions?

How long have you written?

Before you get to that point, though, there’s one word that will help you open those doors and make your conference experience the best it can be.

Hello.

Take the chance this year. Start with hello. People are there to connect. It’ll be okay.

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