To keep things managable, this is the first to a two-part article that I wrote on keeping yourself self. As a former black belt who assisted with women’s self-defense seminars, I thought this might be of interest to anyone who attends conferences, retreats, weekend workshops, etc.
Part 1: Staying Safe
Writing is a solitary profession, but there are those occasional times when I clap with excitement, kick off my bunny slippers, don a nice dress and attend a conference.
I love conferences—I schmooze, swap ideas, listen and learn. Attending conferences is like chicken soup for my career, but venturing out does one thing that I’m not accustomed to— traveling alone.
While others are heading off to their daily jobs in the “real world”, I (like many other writers) am heating up the coffee and settling into my writing chair. It’s easy for me to forget basic safety rules that others take for granted, so here are some tips I think we should all keep in mind whenever we venture out to play:
1. How do you project yourself? Men who prey on women are predators and will scope out their victims in search of someone who appears to be an easy target. Do you walk tall, make direct eye contact with people and keep aware of your surroundings? Or do you appear timid, look at the ground and have your mind elsewhere?
2. Carpool, if possible.
3. If renting a car, request either a car near the rental building or ask a security guard to escort you to your vehicle.
4. Park in a well-lit location where people are present.
5. Have your cell phone readily available.
6. Have your keys ready before you approach your car. I always take my keys out while I’m in the hotel lobby to 1) avoid fumbling around in my purse for them while at my vehicle, and 2) having them ready for use as a possible weapon (more on that later).
7. Never accept an isolated room.
8. Always use the security door locks and brace the door, if necessary. One year I roomed with a writer who shared with me that the night before, when she stayed in the room alone, she braced the door with a desk. Smart lady!
9. Just like Mom taught you, only answer the door if you know who’s there.
10. Bring a flashlight and keep it on your nightstand.
11. If you stay out late to schmooze or do a critique session, stick with your writer companions, but if you do happen to end up alone in the hotel lounge or restaurant, wait for others to leave so you can walk out with them.
(Part 2 will be posted later this week)