Learn, Connect, Enjoy: Making the Most of the NCWN Fall Conference

The fall conference of the North Carolina Writers’ Network returns to Charlotte this year—November 2-4 at Hilton Charlotte University—so we have tips for those who are attending (or still thinking about it). There are deadlines in here, so read on down.


Select Workshops in Advance. One sure way to know if you’ll receive a good value for your money and time is to review all five workshop time slots (three on Saturday and two on Sunday) and make your selections in advance.

Bonus tip: choose a backup workshop for each time slot, too. Sometimes you realize once a session is underway that it’s not for you. It’s OK to slip out and try another one.

Carefully Consider the Extras. This conference has extra options that might fit you. Manuscript Mart and Critique Service are 30-minute feedback sessions on 20 pages of your manuscript—the former with a literary agent or publisher, the latter with an accomplished writer. Master Classes are all day on Saturday, taking the place of the three workshop slots. The cost is just $30 extra—although it’s a small gamble, because that’s the reading fee, non-refundable if you’re not placed in one.

Bonus tip: Deadlines for all these are this Friday, October 19.

Save Money. The conference is a great bargain if you register by October 26 (you’ll save almost $200). If you’re not a NCWN member, join! Membership plus the member rate for the conference is less than the nonmember rate.

Bonus tip: If you don’t need a hotel room, you save even more. NCWN’s fall conference rotates here only every four or five years, so this is your best chance for awhile.


Meet New People. The classes are generally excellent, yet meeting writers from across the Carolinas might be the best part. Try sitting with new people at meals, and saying hello to people at break times. Here’s a sure-fire way to break the ice, even if you’re an introvert: ask “where do you live?” and “what kind of writing do you do?”

Bonus tip: Take names. If you meet someone you’d like to be in touch with again, jot down their name and something about them. If you carry a business (or writer) card, offer to exchange cards.

Stretch Yourself. When selecting workshops, consider taking some that are out of your normal wheelhouse. If you’re a fiction writer, consider a session in poetry, for example.

Bonus tip: This is especially easy to do when the time slot doesn’t have something in your genre or form that really excites you.

Thank the Presenters. After a session, or when you see them later at the conference, say a few words to the presenters. Most work very hard getting ready, and it’s nice to feel appreciated, and you might make a lasting connection—most of the presenters are local (and most also teach at Charlotte Lit). Not sure what to say? Try one piece of specific praise (“I found the part about x especially valuable”).

Bonus tip: Most presenters will have books for sale at the conference bookstore, and they’d be happy to sign for you.


Follow Up with People. Did you collect names and email addresses? Reach out and say hello. Did you meet an agent or editor who expressed interest in your work? Send what you said you’d send.

Bonus tip: No email address? Send a connection request through Facebook or LinkedIn.

Review Your Notes. Most conference materials never again see the light of day, which is a shame: there’s likely a lot of great stuff in there. Did you come up with a story idea, or write a great piece of dialogue, or jot down a book you want to read? Now’s the best time to review and act.

Bonus tip: Do this within the first week, while your memory is fresh and motivation high.

Keep the Motivation Going. You’ll likely leave the conference fired up. While it’s hard to sustain that level of enthusiasm all year, use it as a springboard for your current or next project.

Bonus tip: Decide on your next conference or class and sign up right away. Might we suggest charlottelit.org/classes?

That’s it! We hope to see you there. And please stop by the Charlotte Lit table and say hello.

Learn more and register for the NC Writers’ Network Fall Conference. Hurry! Early bird rates are open until October 26.

Paul Reali is a co-founder of Charlotte Lit, and the author of Creativity Rising and other books on creative problem solving. He will present “Technology Toolkit: Software and Tech Stuff for Writers” at the NC Writers’ Network Conference.