July 26, 2018

Want to Try Writing Tools Before You Buy?

Hands holding an open book with text on pages: Getting Hands on with Writing Tools

I’ve still only managed to get one good night’s sleep since coming home from the 2018 RWA Annual Conference because my body is belatedly yelling at me for the trip and exertion. In fact, I’m having to write this post mostly one-handed, as my shoulder has been freaking out with muscle spasms all day.

But don’t worry! I still have something really cool to share with you today. *smile*

Planner & Writing Tools Demo Rooms

One of the new features at the RWA18 conference this year was the Planner and Writing Tools Demo Rooms. Two whole rooms filled with pens, planners, stickers, washi tape, mice, keyboards, standing desks, chairs, etc.

These rooms were open throughout the conference for writers to go and test things out as much as they wanted, and a label by each item listed the name or description, manufacturer, and price. I found a foot stool that I’d love to have and a planner that might actually work for my process, and I took pictures of a few labels to go shopping later.

In addition, writers could drop business cards into several buckets to win collections of items from the rooms. Each contest included a variety of about 6-10 items, and names were drawn on the last day of the conference to determine the winners.

I could have spent several hours in these rooms, flipping through planner pages or testing chairs. Instead, I spent my time there creating a video to share the coolness with all of you. *grin*


How to Make Great Even Better

The mastermind behind these rooms, author Robin Covington, took some time during the conference to chat with me about the rooms. I hope to bring her here to share more of her thoughts once everyone catches up after conference, but she was gracious enough to give me the highlights of her ideas for how to make the demo rooms even better in upcoming years.

At future conferences, she’d like to add:

  • live computers for testing keyboards and mice
  • more chairs for writers to really settle in and test the feel of items
  • popular writing software, like Scrivener
  • easier ways to get more information on products, like tear-off sheets or QR codes

Conferences Provide Live Opportunities

Many writers don’t enjoy in-person events, as they stress our introvert-selves into uncomfortable situations. However, when writers do get together, we can make the most of it by doing things we can’t do online.

Like to “try before you buy”? The #RWA18 Demo Rooms were a great option! Click To TweetIn-person events like conferences are the perfect time to dig into the physical aspects of writing. We can take advantage of real-life exploring or testing of physical items.

Flipping through the pages of planners, feeling the smoothness of a pen, seeing how well our fingers fit a mouse, testing the angle of a keyboard, or checking on just how adjustable that chair really is—those are all things we can’t do online. I want to thank Robin for putting these rooms together, and I hope RWA continues to develop the potential of her idea. *grin*

If you went to RWA18, did you check out the demo rooms? If so, what was your impression or your favorite aspect? Have you seen or would you like to see this type of feature at writers conferences? If so, what would you like to see or do at writer demo rooms? Do you have any thoughts for how to improve upon what Robin set up for RWA this year?

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Comments — What do you think?

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K.B. Owen

What a wonderful idea! I’ll bet the popularity of these rooms will continue to grow at future conventions, and other writer groups will adopt it, too. Thanks for sharing, Jami! Hope your shoulder feels better soon. 😉

Pauline Baird Jones

Thanks for the video of the items. I love stuff like that. (My planner is Erin Condren. Really like it.) Looks like a good time was had by all!

Robin Covington
Robin Covington

Yay! I am so glad you loved it. I have so many idea for next year . . . .

Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara

Brilliant idea! Thanks for telling us.


Thank you so much for this post! I couldn’t make it to the conference this year and have been hoping RWA would publish a list of the sponsors for this room so I could see what I missed out on. I am *obsessed* with planners and am always looking for something specific to my writing projects. I also have a home office for my day job and am feeling inspired to get some new equipment. Thank you, Robin, for bringing this room to the conference! Here’s hoping there’s another next year. I’ll be the first one in. 😀

Sparks of Ember

That’s pretty neat. I’m curious about the footstool you’re interested in?
I just got back from a different conference that was at the same time – Realm Makers. It was my first writing conference and was amazing. Like you said, it made me stretch my introverted-self a bit but it was such a blast hanging with my tribe!

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