Things to Take to a Writer’s Conference

July 10, 2009

Donna Trussell, former Sewanee Writers’ Conference attendee, wrote a list called “The Things They Didn’t Carry” — the title being inspired by Tim O’Brien’s short story called “The Things They Carried” — to help those heading to conferences to pack the right items.

Her list is below — click on it for the whole list — and I’m going to add some of my own items:

  • Luna Bars — preferably Peppermint
  • Running shoes
  • Noise machine to block out people who party later than you do
  • Deck of cards for poker
  • Change for poker
  • Your laptop
  • Hiking shoes and good socks
  • Extra paper and pens
  • Actual real money — just in case
  • Bourbon
  • Books — I know, I know. What writer doesn’t pack books?
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes


No matter how thoroughly you plan, at some point you’ll find yourself wishing for something you left at home. Maybe this list will help you pack for a writers conference.

1) Small bedside reading lamp. Not only does it make for a more pleasant atmosphere than an overhead light, it will also allow you to read yourself to sleep.

2) Outside by CB I Hate Perfume, tested against Sewanee mosquitos by fiction writer Sharon Mauldin Reynolds. No one wants to smell like DEET at a writers conference.

3) Wristwatch. Cell phones can be out of range, out of charge, turned off or left back in your room.

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