First, Are You a Day Person or Night Person?
Decide which time of the day/evening is most important to you as a writer/editor. It is possible to do both, but you will likely exhaust yourself to stupidity if you try to do both for the entire length of the conference.
AWP Onsite Schedule (MOSTLY DAY)
AWP Offsite Schedule (MOSTLY EVENING)
If you are new to AWP and writing in general, you may find that the day events will be most interesting. You will not likely be able to meet the authors or editors presenting, but you will receive a good deal of interesting and helpful information on craft, publishing, aesthetics and current trends in the world of literary writing. If you focus on an early to rise schedule, make sure you find time in the evening to replenish.
If you are not new to writing, you might find that you’ve already attended similar presentations in the past, and so AWP might be more useful as a connection point. In this case, you might find that sleeping in a little in the morning will help keep your energy up for afternoon lunches, booth visitations, and later off-site events, where you will have more opportunities to meet and hang out with indie writers and editors. Indie events are an excellent way to make connections.
Always have a low-key end of the evening plan either in your room or in your hotel. You will likely have one night, at least, that goes very long and into the morning. Thursday and Friday AWP evenings are infamously long. Try to build in space for downtime that includes close friends. Make sure you grab a bite to eat and drink plenty of water. If you are on your own for AWP, make sure you have an end of evening relaxation plan to replenish yourself and be ready for the next day. If you are on your own, try to connect with a few people prior to AWP so that you have a friend or two who you can hang out with each night at the events.
Whichever schedule you choose, day, evening, or a combination, it is important that you try and get as much rest as you can between being on the floor and attending events. And hydrate. Especially if you are drinking at the off-site events. Many AWP attendees return home with colds, flus, dehydration and exhaustion and an over-socialization hangover. Do your best to take care of yourself along the way.