A couple of weeks ago I missed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for the first time in a gazillion years. And man, did I miss it! The classes, the friends, the one-on-ones, the late nights, the opportunity to help other writers and speakers, the chocolate macaroons–I missed it all!
And then there were the pictures. Every time I opened Facebook, there they were! My news feed was a moment-by-moment timeline of BRMCWC life. Everybody in the world was there, and they were having fun. Everyone, that is, except me.
Yea, I was feeling kinda left behind.
So when Lori Hatcher’s article plopped into my Inbox, I have to admit, I was comforted. Hurray! I wasn’t the ONLY writer who wasn’t at Ridgecrest learning and laughing with writer-friends! (Guess you could say I’m proof positive that misery really does love company.)
But as I read Lori’s article, I realized that–unlike me–Lori had already moved past the whining stage and was hard at work putting her experience to good use.
If you didn’t get to go to Blue Ridge or another favorite conference, this post is for you. Let’s join Lori, quite whining, and just move forward!
Left Behind . . . When You Canâ€™t Attend a Writerâ€™s Conference
By Lori Hatcher
Common sense tells me Iâ€™m not the only one who was unable to attend the most recent writersâ€™ conference. Social media, however, begged to differ. Every post I saw was from someone squealing with excitement. Agents were hoping to sign the next Karen Kingsbury. Instructors were thrilled to be presenting new and insightful workshops. Writers were eagerly anticipating productive times of learning and networking.
And I was sitting at home. Missing it all. Waaaaaaaaah!
Maybe youâ€™re one of the other three people on the planet who wasnâ€™t able to attend the conference. Perhaps you couldnâ€™t afford it. Or couldnâ€™t get time off from your day job. Or didnâ€™t have someone to watch your kids or your aging parent. Whatever the reason, your inability to attend doesnâ€™t have to hamstring your writing life.
Iâ€™d like to share six suggestions to help you move forward:
- If a friend attended the conference, invite her over for coffee and pick her brain. Ask her to bring her notes and debrief with you.
- If someone attended the conference from your local writersâ€™ group, invite her to share what she learned at your next meeting. If several members went, ask them to share the three (or five) best things they learned.
- Subscribe to faculty blogs. Go to your favorite conferenceâ€™s website and click on the Faculty link. Most professionals have very informative blogs. By subscribing to their feeds, you can get helpful instruction on all aspects of the publishing process. Itâ€™s free continuing education that lasts much longer than the writing conference itself. Some of my favorite writing blogs are Writer to Writer, The Write Conversation, MacGregor Literary blog, The Write Editing, and, of course, The Christian Writerâ€™s Den.
- Set new goals. One of the most helpful aspects of a writersâ€™ conference is coming away with a new list of writing tasks, ideas, and goals. While itâ€™s easier to overcome inertia with a push from someone else, a prayerful look at where you are and where youâ€™d like to be in the future can help you formulate goals on your own. First, brainstorm several small projects you can complete in a day or two (blog posts, an article, or a computer file cleanup). Be sure to set a larger one that might take a few weeks of steady progress (researching new publications and sending out query letters). Finally set a long-term goal (a book or editing project). Set deadlines for each and ask a writing friend to hold you accountable.
- Plan a private writersâ€™ retreat. This is an annual tradition for me. Every year I invite two or three friends to join me for a weekend getaway at a kind friendâ€™s mountain house. We pack the books we never have time to read, our current work in progress, and lots of food and chocolate. We sequester ourselves in different rooms to pray, plan, and write, then come together for meals, brainstorming, and critiquing. While we never accomplish everything we hope, itâ€™s wonderful to have an uninterrupted chunk of time to work.
- Think long term. There are several wonderful conferences in my area each year, and itâ€™s unrealistic to expect to attend every one. If I do my research, plan carefully, and save intentionally, I can usually attend at least one. If you really want to attend a conference next year, start planning now. If finances are a challenge, divide the cost by 12 months (or 52 weeks) and begin saving that amount. The total often seems overwhelming, but when you break it down, itâ€™s usually doable. For example, if a conference costs $800, youâ€™ll need to save about $16 per week. This is the equivalent of one lunch out or a few lattes. And the next time your husband, mother, or children ask you what youâ€™d like for your birthday or Christmas, tell them youâ€™re saving to attend a writerâ€™s conference and invite them to contribute to your fund.
Writerâ€™s conferences are wonderful. Every time I attend, I come away inspired, educated, and motivated. Theyâ€™re a great way to move forward as a writer, but theyâ€™re not the only way. If you implement even one of the suggestions Iâ€™ve shared today, youâ€™ll begin to move forward on your writing journey. May God bless your efforts.
Bio: Lori Hatcher is the editor of South Carolinaâ€™s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and the author of the devotional book Joy in the Journey â€“ Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A Yankee transplant and a Christian Communicators Graduate, she uses her speaking and writing ministry to encourage and empower women. Youâ€™ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time.
Thank you, Lori! I feel better already!
We Need To Hear About Your Successes!
Hey there, writing friends. We want to know what youâ€™ve been up to. Have you had something exciting happen recently in your writing or speaking life? Maybe youâ€™ve had an article published, signed a book contract, released a new book, got an agent, or started a new blog. If so, we want to hear from you!
Itâ€™s really simple, but I do ask that you contact me with the info in this format and order ONLY:
**Your state in two-letter abbreviation
**Link to your website or blog
**Your good news
**Link to your good news, if online (online bookstore, online article, etc)
I canâ€™t wait for us to celebrate with you!
And Who Worked on Their MoGo7000 in May?
If you wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in May, you can receive an entry in the drawing for the 2014 MoGo7000 $100 cash prize! Itâ€™s open to everyone who qualifies.
To report your May results, please leave a comment below with your total new words written in May. (Please do not send your totals by email or through the Contact page. Totals must be left as a comment here by next Monday).Â
If you missed out on last yearâ€™s money-winning writing challenge, donâ€™t worry, the 2014 challenge is ongoing! Here are the MoGo7000 Challenge rules. All you have to do is write at least 7000 NEW words on a book project in any month and youâ€™ll receive an entry into the end-of-the-year drawing for $100.
Each month that you qualify with 7000 new words, your name goes in the â€śhatâ€ť for the drawing. Reach the goal one month and youâ€™ll have one entry. Meet it 12 months and youâ€™ll have 12 entries!
So what are you waiting for? Get started now and you could have $100 this time next year. And it doesnâ€™t cost you a cent.
And Who Won Patty Mason’s Book?
The winner is…Clella! Congratulations, Clella! Now, simply contact me with your snail mail address and the book will be on its way!
And I know many of you are going to want your own copy, so here’s a direct link for Know That I AM God workbook on Amazon. But to get the complete study, including the workbook and Leaderâ€™s Guide combo, along with the 10-week video series (taken from the book of Ezekiel), be sure to check out Patty’s Bible Studies section on her website atÂ http://www.libertyinchristministries.com/bible-studies.
Well, that’s it for this week. I hope to see you back on Friday for our Parting Words From The WORD…