by Ami Maxine Irmen
There is a joke that introverts make great writers because it gives us a chance to tell stories without having to make eye contact. Joking or not, it’s true. And I am never more aware of this than when I attend writer/reader conferences/festivals…and I attempt to network. [shudders]
As excited as we may get to be surrounded by fellow writers, listen to authors read their work, and get our books signed, even the most outgoing introverts eventually need some time to recharge (extroverts, too!). As a veteran conference-goer, the best piece of advice I can give you is this: Don’t try to do it all. Make sure you take some time throughout the day to recharge your batteries.
If you are an introvert traveling from out of town, have no fear – we’ve got some great places for you to escape to for a few moments of quiet! For starters, make sure to check out what else our event locations have to offer you:
Brown County Library
The downtown location of the Brown County Library will be home to many activities throughout the weekend, so some folks may consider staying away – BUT! the library is also home to one of our favorite things: books. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to hide out in for a few moments – or a few hours – if needed. Grab a book or bring your own, have a seat, and recharge.
St. Brendan’s Inn
Even if you don’t have a room to escape to at UntitledTown’s official hotel, St. Brendan’s Inn, you can escape to this locally owned establishment for some Irish specialties in their restaurant, including their famous Guinness Pot Roast, or stop by their pub for a drink with a friend or on your own (see their extensive drink and craft beer menus). It’s also a great setting to sit and write for a bit, too. Sláinte!
Copper State Brewing Company (and Coffeehouse)
You don’t need to like beer to hang out here – they also have a separate bar for their coffee and tea. But if you do like beer, you definitely want to stop by. And if you’re hungry, they’ve got you covered there, too. While the upstairs bar is one of UntitledTown’s locations, the main floor has plenty of space for you to escape and enjoy something delicious.
There are also many spots near our events that can serve as an escape. If you simply need some fresh air, check out Broadway and take advantage of one of many Benches on Broadway, some living art offering you a place to rest and reflect. Also, head across the Main Street or Walnut Street bridges or down the CityDeck – a few moments staring into the Fox River are moments well spent.
Other tips and tricks for the festival-going introvert:
- Plan ahead – check out the schedule and have a plan going in (that includes scheduled down time).
- Head over to the Neville Public Museum for some quiet and inspiration. The Neville participates in both the ASTC Travel Passport Program and the Time Travelers program – so be sure to bring proof of membership for free general admission to the Neville! Otherwise, rates can be found here.
- If Copper State is a bit to crowded for your taste, but you’re still jonesin’ for some coffee or tea, you could instead head up to the third flood of the Brown County Library to check out Rise & Grind.
- If you are like me, it can be helpful to prepare what you are going to say at book signings. When I meet authors that I admire, I get more than a little star struck – the putting of words into sentences does not come easy in the moment. Don’t leave it to the author to fill that time!
- The same goes for networking – have some questions ready that you can ask people you meet (something more than “what is your favorite book” – because we all know THAT is not an easy question to answer). Small talk is not easy for us introverts – so having something ready to go can take the pressure off. Also, if you reach out first, you can guide the conversation away from meaningless talk about the weather.
- If you have business cards, bring them. If you don’t have them, get some made up. This will allow you to keep face-to-face conversations short and sweet – and then follow up via email later on.
- Go with your strengths – if you are looking to network, and you know you do that best first thing, then plan to put yourself out there in the morning and allow yourself to retreat later in the day. Maybe even set a quota for yourself of the number of connections you wish to make. This will give you a goal, but it will also give you an out once you’ve met it. Also, remember that one really good connection is better than a fist full of business cards.
- Bring a friend! There is great comfort in knowing you have moral support.
- Be on the lookout for other introverts. We are easy to spot.
- Remember to have fun! (Just also remember to save some energy for work on Monday…)