I love writing conventions. I love talking books, and the industry, and helping new writers find their niche so they can thrive.
I don’t necessarily love crowds, or lots of noise, and my mental capacity for interacting with people has its limits. That’s the side-effects of being an introvert. The upside is, I recharge in solitude, which for me is an easy thing to find. Not so easy at a convention though. But it can be done! The important thing is to have a plan–and the tools you need—to find the balance between interacting with others, with time to re-calibrate all on your own.
- Know Your Hotel
Finding a quiet space at a convention can be tricky, but its not impossible. You just need to be at the right place, at the right time. My favorite way to cool off and unwind is with a long swim at the pool. See if your hotel has one, then call and make sure it’s still open during the convention. The trick to enjoying it on your own is in the timing. Take an early dinner, sometime between four and five, and hit the pool no later than six. While you’re swimming, everyone else will be sitting down to supper. The few people you might encounter may be parents with kids on vacation, who won’t pay you any mind.
- Know Your Roommates
The cheapest way to con and con often is to split the room, often with as many bodies as you can. However, the wrong people will make a great time into a stressful nightmare. You need people who aren’t draining, and folks who aren’t going to be party animals. I’m often in the party room myself, but my friends know I’m an introvert and often sneak me out for smoke breaks to chit chat in the quiet for a little while. Make sure your roommates are people who understand you and your needs.
- Come Prepared
It’s more than packing a bathing suit (though this is obviously an important step). Make a list of items that help you relax, and bring those with you. Be it a book, or a cup of tea, or your favorite music. My packing list for each con includes headphones, ear plugs, a book, spells for shielding and calming, and my pillow if I can fit it in my luggage. If the hotel doesn’t have a pool or the pool won’t be open during the convention, bring something nice to take a bath.
- Choose Your Outfits Wisely
It is so easy, and so tempting, to pick the prettiest or handsomest or flashiest things in our closet and decide that’s our con wardrobe. But the last thing you want is to be in something that doesn’t fit right anymore, or makes you uncomfortable. Pack a back-up outfit if you need something comfy and classy (I’m a big fan of pretty leggings and a fancy tunic-style top) just in case. Uncomfortable clothes and shoes will up your anxiety straight to hell and burn you out twice as fast. This also means you pack back-up makeup, and shoes. (Hey, I didn’t say this would be easy!)
- Take Breaks Often
If you’re in-between panels or you have a gap between meet-ups–go up to your room and sit for a few. Even just fifteen minutes in the quiet, munching on grapes and sipping a cup of tea, can do a world of wonders for your mental health. Just tell people you’re going upstairs for a quick lunch–even if you aren’t hungry–and enjoy yourself. These little breaks can keep you going throughout the day, until you can get to your big break in the evening.
Being an introvert does not mean you have to skip the con circuit entirely, it just means you need to plan your moves. The key is to stay in charge of your time. Remember: your life is your own and you don’t need to harm your mental state to please others.
And don’t forget to have fun! Cons are work, but you should get to enjoy it too.