This past Saturday I attended GeekGirlCon and I had such a blast. It was a good balance of panels and chatting with creators in the expo hall. I found myself feeling energized and inspired to tackle my own ambitions as a creator, and so I wanted to share what I did there and my takeaways with you guys. But first, let’s quickly cover what exactly is GeekGirlCon.
What Is GeekGirlCon?
I think the About Us page on the GeekGirlCon website says it pretty well:
GeekGirlCon is an organization that works to empower women and girls to pursue their passions—whether they love science and technology, comics, literature, gaming, or anything else! Everybody is a geek at heart, in one way or another. Our mission is to ensure all these geeks are supported, welcomed, and encouraged to pursue what they love.
Every year, GeekGirlCon puts on a 2-day convention featuring amazing panels, an expo hall full of creators of all sorts, and other convention regulars. It’s like a massive, welcoming, safe party for people of all kinds. This was the fourth time I’d been to GeekGirlCon, and I’ve loved it every year. And my favorite feature of the con is always the panels.
The Panels I Attended This Year
I usually try not to spend the whole event in panels, but this year I had several I wanted to attend:
- First Time Game Design Tips
- Women in Leadership: How to Turn Passion and Ambition into a Dream Job
- Creative and Chronic Life
- A Conversation with the Dungeons & Dragons Team
Luckily for me, they were spaced out pretty well so I had time for lunch and walking the hall. But all of these panels were awesome! Here’s a quick recap of each.
First Time Game Design Tips
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect with this panel. It focused primarily on tips for designing tabletop games. It was really interesting to listen to a group of women discuss the lessons they’ve learned in prototyping, play-testing, and publishing games. I found it strikingly similar to the writing process, and there were plenty of great tips I could bring into my own practice, such as:
- Find a community for help and support
- Develop a thick skin for feedback because it’s important for improving the final product
- Give yourself goals
- Self-publishing or traditional publishing are both fine options; just think about what you want and use that to make your decision
Women in Leadership: How to Turn Passion and Ambition into a Dream Job
This was probably my favorite panel of the con. All the panelists were awesome and offered amazing advice for anyone wanting to find a satisfying career doing something that brings you joy. And it was so inspiring to see so many women talking with such confidence from positions of leadership. I just wanted them all to set me on their knee and guide me in the ways of life. I did take plenty of notes, and here are a few gems I picked up:
- Get comfortable with failure
- Be your own first, biggest fan
- Regularly take time to reflect on your successes
- Network out and down (not up): help the people at your level and the people you can mentor and bring them with you
- Everything goes through the stage of being horrible, so don’t sweat it if you’re bad at first and just keep going
- Learn to finish
Creative and Chronic Life
This panel featured creatives (artists, writers, and activists) with chronic physical and mental illness discussing how they pursue their creative life while dealing with their chronic conditions. I found plenty of good reminders on the importance of self-care, and it was awesome to see these women being open and honest about their struggles. Here’s what I learned:
- Surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through
- Don’t punish yourself if you can’t be healthy all the time
- When you are healthy, prepare for the bad days
- Learn to say no when you need to
A Conversation with the Dungeons and Dragons Team
I was looking forward tot his panel the most. While it wasn’t quite what I expected (more of D&D promo, less of how to actually get into tabletop RPG creation), I still thought it was a good panel. Also, I had no idea so many people in leadership positions on D&D were women. It was a wonderful surprise, and I just wanted each of them to adopt me. Here’s what I learned:
- The D&D community is or should be inclusive of all people
- D&D is a fantasy rooted in reality, and should reflect the real world – art in D&D should reflect that world, so diversity in the characters portrayed is important
- Don’t be afraid to start something you’re interested in
Other Stuff I Did
Besides the panels I attended, I also toured the expo hall and spent more than too much money on fantastic indie books. I’ve already started one, and can’t wait to get going on the others. And I grabbed a bunch of business cards so that I can find the books I couldn’t get this weekend later. I’ll be posting reviews of everything I read on this blog, so stay tuned for some new recommendations!
How I’m Feeling
My biggest takeaway from this year’s con is how I feel right now: inspired, confident, and ready to tackle my mounting pile of creative projects. Sometimes I struggle with figuring out my future and how to integrate my dreams into my life, and I’m not saying that today I have it all figured out. But I’m so filled with hope for the future and I know that wherever my passions take me, it’s going to be great 🙂
Right, so I had a great time at GeekGirlCon. What about you guys? Did anyone else attend this year? What were your takeaways? Or have you been to another con recently that re-filled your creative batteries? Please let me know!
Announcements: So, as some of you on Facebook will know, I’ve decided to go all in on finishing Footfall this November. I’m very excited for this, but it may mean that I’ll be taking a short hiatus from this blog. I haven’t quite figured out if I’ll have time to post here or not. So, if you want to keep up to date with my writing, I’m going to try to post regular word counts and status updates on my Tumblr and Twitter, so check me out there. And stick around. I may get extra energy and post some indie book reviews on my back burner 😉