One good thing to come out of the pandemic has been the rise in online events and conferences. In the first year or so, everyone had to quickly pivot to online events or cancel them entirely, but then a lot of groups figured out that having online events opened them up to a whole new group of attendees. People who didn’t have the time or budget to travel to a conference could attend an online conference. You could go to conference sessions in your pajamas or sweatpants, and a lot of these conferences had the sessions recorded, so you could watch them whenever you wanted to. A few got good at doing interactive events, using programs like Zoom to create roundtables and networking sessions so you could talk to other attendees.
I’ve been to a lot more conferences since the pandemic started than I’d been to in years before it. I tend to get drained by being around crowds, so while I enjoy conferences, I’ll end up collapsing in my hotel room between sessions, and I’m left drained at the end. I lose about two weeks of writing time for a conference that covers a long weekend. There’s the preparation and travel before, then the travel and recovery afterward. With an online conference, I manage to get writing done during the conference, and while I might be a little tired after an intense weekend of sessions, I’m not so drained that I lose days of work.
I’m about to attend another online writing conference that starts this weekend. With this one, all the workshops are pre-recorded, and I can watch them whenever I want in the next few years. Then there are live events on the next three weekends, with live Q&A sessions and roundtable sessions. During the conference, I focus on the workshops connected to live events and the live events like networking and roundtable sessions. Then I can spread the other workshops out over the rest of the year.
I’ve learned that there are some preparations I have to make. Mostly, I need easy meals so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking, and I need snacks. Snacks aren’t necessarily a big thing at writing conferences, but there’s usually a hospitality suite at science fiction conventions, where you can get snacks and hang out. That seems to have created an expectation in my brain that if I’m at a conference, there will be snacks of the sort that I usually only let myself eat at conferences, so I’ll end up craving those things. I didn’t go nuts, but I have a few things to munch on while I watch workshops and presentations.
I got some spiral notebooks and pens for taking notes. Fortunately, it’s back-to-school time, so it’s all on sale. Like I need an excuse to buy school supplies.
Meanwhile, I’m in the middle of an online course, so I might be overloading myself a bit. The real trick is reminding myself that no one thing I learn is going to change everything. I may learn new things that will allow incremental improvement, but I’m not going to discover the magical secret that launches my career in a new direction.