The Boy Scouts' motto is "always prepared". If you're heading to a writer's conference, you pack a little differently than for another trip.
I'm heading to a conference this morning. The next four days will be nonstop, full from morning till night. And I'm operating on four hours' sleep. My daughter flew home from college and the plane was delayed. Not ideal, but you never know what contest attendance might throw at you.
Today I'll give you a list of what I'm bringing in my shoulder bag. You know, the one you carry at the conference as you head from workshop to workshop.
In my bag:
A stack of business cards: an essential networking tool at a conference. Make sure to order these in advance. Cards with your photo can be helpful, since they remind someone of who they talked to. Keep a handful inserted in the plastic sleeve behind your nametag, ready to give to new acquaintances. When someone gives you a card, as soon as possible, write a note on the back. Something like "YA writer at PPW Conference" to help you place the person.
A notebook: Some people like to bring a laptop for taking notes, but remember, you're going to be toting this on your shoulder all day. Not to mention you'll be aware of all the times you set it down. Writers are great people, but conference venues are public places, and worrying about a computer may be distracting. If conference notes have been emailed to you, print them out and insert them into a folder or binder. A handful of pens is essential, too.
Also pack a small notebook where you keep track of writing expenses. A cup of coffee, the purchase of a writing book, are tax deductible. Save all receipts.
My pitch: If you plan on pitching, have your pitch typed and ready in a plastic sleeve inside your notebook. Peek at it frequently to refresh your mind (hopefully, you've been practicing already).
Energy items: I bring my travel coffee mug along. You might prefer a water bottle. A few granola bars or a tin of mints to keep you going.
Tomorrow I'll have some links to what others feel are the essential items to pack. What about you? Did I miss anything? Remember, I'm operating on four hours' sleep. Let us know what you'd pack.