10. Go to the Newcomers Briefing (there are several to choose from) if you haven’t attended before.
9. Engage. Do the exercises in the workshops, ask questions and take notes. Check with staff members for ways you can help, and pitch in where you see the need. Introduce yourself to people. Practice asking, "What do you write?" and "What do you read?"
8. Remember that agents, editors, and famous authors are people just like you—so try not to be intimidated. Strike up a conversation!
7. Remember that agents, editors, and famous authors are people just like you— so treat them with courtesy and respect. Don't corner them in the bathroom or monopolize their time.
6. Don't skip meals. Not just because your brain needs fuel, but because sharing a meal with fellow writers (not to mention faculty members) is one of the most rewarding parts of the conference.
5. Ask questions. Staff members are easy to find, and no question is too silly/dumb/trivial/embarrassing/naïve.
4. Pace yourself. This applies to food, caffeine, alcohol, exercise, workshops, and even socializing. Allow for down-time when you need it, and you'll get more out of the rest of your time at PPWC.
3. Drink water. It's good for you, it's free, and it's especially important at our elevation. Even locals sometimes forget to drink enough water. Try to drink a glass each session. If you wait until you feel thirsty, you're already dehydrated. This can lead to headache, fatigue, or even altitude sickness.
2. Find the bathrooms (see #3).
1. Make yourself at home. PPWC is YOUR conference. If you make yourself at home—both in terms of feeling comfortable and taking initiative—you'll get far more than you give.
Originally appeared in The Pikes Peak Writer, Volume IX, Issue 2, March 2010.