Once upon a time, a conference attendee sat down with his class list, intent upon selecting the perfect schedule. The poor, misguided soul decided to make his selections based on arbitrary factors such as applicability, interest in the subject matter, and credentials of the teacher. He worked out his schedule, attended classes accordingly, then promptly ushered in the apocalypse, bringing death and devastation to an entire planet.
Don’t be that attendee. Don’t trigger the downfall of civilization with your haphazard class selection. There are far less destructive ways of doing this.
Easy as ABC
We are writers. Words are our bread and butter. What are words made of? Letters. Put together, what do those letters form? The alphabet. Therefore, as writers we simply must make use of alphabetization.
Begin with the first block of classes and choose the class title that comes first alphabetically. This is where you begin. For the second block of classes, choose the class in that block with the title that comes next alphabetically after the first on your schedule. Continue until all of your slots are filled.
What, you may ask, do you do if you reach a block when none of the class titles fit alphabetically after the previous? That means you have learned all you will ever need to know about writing. You are done. Time to go enjoy your Pulitzer and call it a day.
For some, the “ABC” method simply doesn’t work. Perhaps your grasp of the alphabet is lacking. Perhaps you aren’t ready to reach your literary learning peak quite so early. Perhaps you are attending a conference that has begun with a class entitled “Zombie Apocalypse for Dummies” and figure your efforts are doomed from the start. If any of these are true for you, consider the “Location Loyalty” approach.
The strategy is simple, really. At the beginning of the day, pick a classroom, preferably the one closest to whatever is the most important spot in the conference center for you: the bathroom, perhaps, or the vending machines, or an exit for that oft-needed quick getaway. Arrive at said classroom a few minutes early so you can pick a comfortable chair in an unobtrusive corner. You should consider bringing a pillow and blanket, as well as a refreshing beverage.
Your second step is also your last. Stay there. Stay in the room. All day. There’ll be plenty of classes and you’ll be comfortable. What more could you ask for?
Perhaps the most scientific of all approaches, “Darts” builds a schedule quickly and efficiently. Simply tack the conference schedule to a wall, count off ten paces (five if your aim and/or arm strength is lacking) and toss darts at the papers. Attend those classes that are skewered. Problem solved.
Easy as CBA
This as yet unproven method is “ABC” but applied in reverse. This highly controversial approach is only recommended for highly experienced attendees. Possible side effects may include heartburn, dry mouth, inability to control the shape of one’s hair, a vague sense of disorientation, and a sudden allergy to #2 pencils.
You’re Not the Boss of Me
The “You’re Not the Boss of Me” strategy is ideal for those writers who have not yet mastered the art of pretending to enjoy interacting with others. To utilize this method, stand in a location that affords a view of as many classrooms as possible. At the start of each session, watch to see which classes seem to have attracted the most attendees. These are the classes to avoid. You are not a mindless follower. You make your own decisions. You choose your own path. Approach the door to the most popular class, look the mindless hordes in the eye and shout, “You’re not the boss of me!” Then attend the class with the most empty seats.
If none of the above methods works for you, please consider locking yourself in your hotel room for the duration of the conference. You won’t have the benefit of attending classes, but neither will you be tempted to pick classes based on their perceived value to you as an author and, thus, risk ushering in an endless nuclear winter.
Choose carefully, my friends.
Find out more about the delightful Sarah Eden and her equally delightful books at her website where she says honest and smart things.