by Denise Loock

“Social interaction energizes extroverts but exhausts introverts.” That simple explanation from a human resources director released me from years of guilt. No wonder I avoid women’s retreats, reunions, and professional conferences. They wear me out!

Author Susan Cain explains my aversion this way: “Human beings seek ‘just right’ levels of stimulation … it can take any number of forms, from noise to social life to flashing lights.”[1] Introverts prefer less stimulation, extroverts more—the reason my friend edits on her laptop at Starbucks and I work in silent solitude at home.

On the other hand, I also recognize the benefits of attending these gatherings, especially professional conferences. I gain knowledge and skills from industry experts, I learn from fellow editors who have similar interests and challenges, and I’m inspired to pursue new goals.

So why is PENCON 2021 the perfect social gathering for people like me? The virtual platform allows me to choose how many sessions to attend and to regulate how much I engage with other attendees. I can limit stimulation without guilt—knowing I can view recorded sessions later when my energy is replenished. Woo-hoo!

But how well does a virtual platform work for extroverts? One sociable editor told me, “Of course I prefer face-to-face gatherings. But virtual PENCON still reminds me that I’m not alone. Even if I live out in the boonies, at PENCON I can network and learn with likeminded colleagues.” Another said, “I discovered that another editor lived nearby, which led to a lasting face-to-face friendship.”

This year, the conference schedule features midday breaks so participants can use free time to interact with other attendees through private Zoom or FaceTime meetings. Attendees can also meet one-on-one with faculty during those breaks. In addition, the Crowdcast platform features a Chat column for interaction before and after sessions. Faculty can also choose to keep the Chat column open during their sessions to encourage more interaction. If you want even more social time, volunteer to be a session host for PENCON 2021. (We’ll train you.)

Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron.” Both introverts and extroverts need social interaction. If we regulate our intake at the just-right level, we receive maximum benefit at minimal expense.

And speaking of cost, that’s another benefit of a virtual conference. PENCON 2021 offers twenty-three hours of industry-expert input for less than $9.00 an hour. As a PEN member, your discount may reduce the price to $6.00 an hour.

One alumnus said, “PENCON is on my ‘do not ever miss’ list. … I adore honing my skills, connecting with fellow editors, and being encouraged in what can be an extremely solitary profession.”

Come to PENCON 2021 and discover why it should be on your “do not ever miss” list. Register today at.

[1] Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (NY: Broadway Books, 2012), Kindle edition, Chapter 5.

Denise Loock is a general editor for LPC Books, a division of Iron Stream Media. She also accepts freelance projects from both fiction and nonfiction writers. As the director of PENCON, she is committed to helping editors and proofreaders learn, grow, and network.