What I Learned in NYC at ASJA

Walking around NYC pre-conference!

I truly believe that all travel, leisure or otherwise, is educational.  If I didn’t, this blog wouldn’t exist!  Wherever you go there is something to be learned.  However, some of the best trips I’ve taken have been planned around a specific educational event or activity.  I was able to spend three weeks on Martha’s Vineyard while enrolled in a graduate program at Northeastern University. I’ve gone on road trips up and down the east coast for the purposes of learning about yoga, paganism, and creative writing–in that order.  And most recently, I ‘traveled’ seventy whopping miles to New York City to learn about the world of writing and publishing from experts at the American Society of Journalists and Author’s Annual Convention.

I learned many things from this trip–heck, I filled up half of the moleskin journal my husband gave me for Christmas.  And as in life, some lessons were purposefully taught in the amazing sessions I attended, but many came from other people, from observation, or simply from the experience of being somewhere out of my comfort zone.  And isn’t that what travel is really about?

If you are dying to know what I learned, here are my top ten lessons from ASJA, in proper countdown format…

10.  Blogging and writing are two very different things.  People don’t read blogs because they like the writing style–they read blogs because they offer interesting content.

9.  I need to be more consistent with my posts.  Setting up a blogging schedule is a good idea. Fortunately, I love schedules.

8.  If I want to keep blogging, I need to take a photography class.  This is awesome.  I love classes, and learning, and taking photos.  Plus, it will give me human interaction during my year off from work.

7.  My author website should have my name as its URL, as what I write will change but who I am won’t. This is very good to know, as I debated about this for a while when I set up my website.  Fortunately, I did go with my name–whew!

6.  It is not easy to sell a travel memoir.  I’m glad I learned this before booking a flight to work on my memoir The Curmudgeon Returns to Paris.  Fortunately this idea was still only that–an idea!  Though I was already researching flights and apartments…

5.  Number five makes the English teacher in me happy:  I learned a new word at this conference–Coopertition.  It’s a combination of cooperation and competition, and it is what good professional writers do. In my opinion, it is what good professional ANYTHINGS should do.  I’m not sure if I spelled it correctly, though!

4.  Blogs should look more like magazine layouts than giant chunks of text.  I can study magazines to get ideas for my own blog layouts. This has the added bonus of giving me an excuse to sit on the porch with all of my neglected issues of Better Homes and Gardens and Real Simple.

3.  If my book proposal is rejected from every agent from sea to shining sea, I can still write about educational travel in online and print journals. In fact, that should have been my first step all along.

2.  Twitter is very important. Hootsuite is awesome.  Well, to be fair, I learned that second lesson upon returning home and trying it out.  Love it!

1.  There are all kinds of amazing, intelligent, talented people in the world, and many of them belong to ASJA.

As you can see, the one lesson I did NOT learn was that to overuse exclamation marks in a blog post (or any other writing) is annoying and unprofessional.  Ooops!



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