Wednesday, August 8, 2018

3 Simple Ways to Deal with After-Conference Overwhelm by Chautona Havig

By the third day of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference, I saw a shift. The same people from day one who had exited classrooms eager and excited about what they’d learned now floundered. Entire demeanors changed in the span of two days—from talking and laughing to not-so-excited. I watched eager, determined expressions shift to dazed, uncertain, confused.

“I don’t know where to start.”

“How do I do all of this? There’s too much!”

“I want to say I’ll do the most important things first, but they’re all important!”

Most of them were spoken with a nervous laugh. Many times accompanied by a wail.

One woman flipped open a notebook to one of the back pages and showed a “To Do” list.

“I brought a brand new notebook for this conference. It’s almost full of notes and ideas.” She flipped the page back and forth to show both sides. “And those are all the stuff I need to be doing. I need something better than ‘Russian pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey’ to get started.”

Sitting there, I wanted to say so many things to everyone, but there wasn’t time. This is what I would have said if I could. 

3 Simple Ways to Deal with After-Conference Overwhelm

1. You can’t do it all, so don’t even try. Start by eliminating anything that you can put off for six months. Then eliminate whatever you can put off for three. For a month. A week.

When you’re down to only what will help you right now, that makes it a little easier. It may be watching passive-sounding phrases as you finish your manuscript. It may be learning how to use Instagram to build a following. Pick something off that smaller list and start there. Yes, we have to start working on those longer-term things but not when you first get home.

2. Show your notes to a trusted friend or mentor. Often those who know us well can see where we need to make changes better than we can. Treat it like a brainstorming session for your next novel—the one called your life! Lay out “all the things” you learned and see what he or she says. Then take the advice—at least for now.

3. Take time to let all that information sink in. You don’t have to go home on Saturday night and begin applying everything on Monday. Give yourself a week or two to see if something rises to the top.

It’s easy to allow “all the things” to take over your “navigational system,” but careful, prayerful consideration of what you’ve learned and how to apply that will keep you from trying to do everything at once.

And let’s face it. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Writers’ conferences can be overwhelming, but with a plan of attack, you can avoid after-conference overwhelm.


Author of the Amazon Bestselling Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in California's Mojave Desert where she uses story to direct readers to the feet of the Master Storyteller. You can find her as herself on most social media and at