This post was originally published in 2016.
It has been updated with links and information related to She Speaks 2017.
The writer’s life can be very lonely. Lots of time spent behind a keyboard, family and friends who support your ministry but don’t understand your passion for words. But every summer and fall, at conferences all across the country, we get the opportunity to be with our people for a time set aside to network, learn to hone our craft, and have an opportunity to present book proposals to literary agents and publishers.
Registration is now open for my very favorite conference, the She Speaks Conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries. Offering both Speaking and Writing tracks, plus some additional sessions for everybody, She Speaks is always a great time of fun, connecting with friends, learning, and most importantly, worship and growth. Nothing will set a fire in your soul for ministry like She Speaks.
But oh my goodness … when I signed up for my first conference, I had NO IDEA all.the.things needed to prepare for She Speaks, or any of the other conferences this summer such as Declare, ReNew or one of the local conferences. It can make your head spin!!! With a long to-do list to get ready, it’s easy to be caught up in the frenzy, thinking you have to do it all. Or worse yet, putting it off until three weeks before the conference and trying to jam it into your already busy schedule.
So let’s prepare together. The first Monday of every month between now and July we’ll focus on a few things to do that month to get ready. We’ll cover the logistical things like travel and reservations, plus great “been there – done that” tips from past conference goers on writing a book proposal for a publisher appointment, preparing for a networking group or writing critique, and just preparing your heart for the experience in front of you.
If you are planning to go to any of these conferences , here are the four things you need to do in March to prepare.
1. Get prayed up
Before I went to my first conference, Melissa Taylor gave me the best one sentence of advice. She said,
“Be prepared for God to do anything at She Speaks.”
She was right. God did a lot of “anything” in my heart and in my life leading up to and during the week of She Speaks.
Start praying now for an open heart and open mind for whatever God wants to do in you and through you this year. It may not be what you expect. It may bigger and much grander than you could ever imagine. Or maybe quiet confirmation of where you’re going. It could be a painful redirection to a new place or an old trampled dream may come to life again. But whatever it is, God will be faithful to walk through it with you. Be prepared for God to do anything.
You also need to pray for God’s protection. Our enemy knows that God does amazing things when His girls draw close to Him. As you get deeper into preparing for this Jesus-filled opportunity, don’t be surprised when your appliances go on the fritz, gremlins infect your electronic devices and your vehicle breaks down two days after the warranty expires. Just laugh and know that you must be right where God wants you to be.
But it’s no laughing matter when Satan saves his most vicious attack for the ones closest to our hearts … our families. He thinks your children and husband are fair game for physical ailments, bouts of rebellion and a crisis of faith. Put on your armor every day, girls, and cover your family. God desires for them to thrive through your ministry.
On a personal note, the battle has already started for me. While writing this post and creating the checklist below, large chunks of them disappeared before my eyes and had to be re-written. #thestruggleisreal
Registration is now open for She Speaks but it fills up fast. Be sure to register soon if you plan to go, or you may find yourself on the dreaded waiting list.
When you register, you may be asked to select a track for speaking or writing and you’ll be able to pick the sessions you want to attend.
Don’t get too hung up on this right now, because you can change your track and your session anytime up until a cut off date sometime in June. And you don’t have to stay within your track … speakers can do writing track sessions and writers can do speaking track sessions.
New for 2017
There are no speaker groups in 2017. Instead, the Proverbs 31 team will be offering networking groups where you can connect with people in the same interest area as you. No prep needed for these groups … just come and find some of your people!
3. Travel and logistics
This is an important one because it is the single biggest expense in addition to the registration fee. I understand that the rooms at the conference hotel, Embassy Suites, are already booked up for the weekend, but it doesn’t hurt to call the hotel anyway and check. The Travel and Accommodations page on the She Speaks website lists other great hotels that are within walking distance of the Embassy Suites. So if you are staying at one of those, don’t worry. There will be lots of other conference attendees to hang out with at your hotel.
If you are still working out roommate arrangements, go ahead and make a reservation so you have something lined up. You can cancel most of them up until a couple of days before the conference at no charge. It’s better to have something reserved and cancel it than to be scrambling at the last minute.
If you’re planning to fly, go ahead and start looking at flight times and prices and reserve your ticket as soon as you can. The She Speaks website has information about shuttles running between the airport and the conference area you can reserve instead of getting a rental car.
4. Connect on social media
Be sure to follow the official Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference Facebook page to stay up to date on all the news. Use the hashtag #SheSpeaks2017 liberally on all platforms to connect with others going to the conference.
The She Speaks 2017 Facebook group is an unofficial group of women who are attending She Speaks. Many of them have attended in the past and will be great support as you prepare. You can find roommates and travel partners. And no promises, but you also might see some of your favorite Proverbs 31 Ministries writers and speakers pop into the group occasionally to encourage you.
Just a little warning though. There are women who are at all places in their writing and publishing journeys in the Facebook group. It may be overwhelming when you see people who are so much more prepared. They already have their proposals done, a cute website and nifty business cards and a fancy speaker sheet. They seem to have it all together. Remember most of that stuff is optional depending on your purpose for going to She Speaks.
Don’t let the craziness overwhelm or discourage you. Sometimes you may need to just turn the notifications off and give it a rest. Learn from others in the group because they love to support each other, but be discerning about what applies to you and what doesn’t.
When you get to She Speaks, it is fun to put bodies with all of those little profile picture heads. It’s like having brand-new best friends in a strange place!
So that’s the plan for March. Get all your logistical details in place and pray, pray, pray. Join me back here the first Monday of every month for your step by step plan. I can’t wait to meet you under the Carolina blue skies!
Are you planning to go She Speaks or one of the other amazing conferences? What part of the preparation has you the most frazzled?
Thanks to BethAnn Foro from She Believes for the use of her pictures from She Speaks 2015!