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I attended my first ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) National Conference this year.
I’ve been writing all of my life, but it has only been in recent years that I have begun to invest more into learning the craft. I am a sponge – soaking up all of the information that I can so that I will be better. So that my stories will be better.
I learned a lot. About myself, about my writing, and about the world of publication. Here are some of the things that I learned:
Being an extrovert is exhausting
I’m an introvert. I willingly admit it. But just because I am naturally that way doesn’t mean that I can use it as an excuse to hide in a corner. Since I know this about myself, I made a concerted effort to move out of my comfort zone and talk to others. It was rewarding. But it was also emotionally exhausting. I would do it again, but next time I will make sure that I am getting more rest to balance myself out. I wonder if extroverts get exhausted when they have to be introverted?
Worship is awesome
I have never been to any business type of function that incorporated worship. Even though I was surrounded by a group of Christians, worshiping with them was a surprise. A wonderful surprise. Remember that exhaustion from getting out of my comfort zone? I found the worship to be very helpful to me. I also just enjoyed being in God’s presence with other writers.
Have a quick answer for the most asked question
What do you write?
Yep. That was the ice breaker. I learned so much about other people when they answered that question. I heard wonderful story ideas and got to see faces light up when they talked about their fiction work. I went into the conference with a one page story summary, but learned that I needed a quick answer as well. It helped me be more concise about my story. After a few days of talking to others about my book, I had a better handle on the summary.
I made appointments to see agents, not because I was ready to submit a proposal but because I wanted to learn more about the process and what they were looking for. After talking over my book with agents and other writers, I make an impromptu appointment with an editor just to get more feedback. It wasn’t something that I had planned to do, but I am glad that I did because I learned some things I may not have learned otherwise.
Be open to feedback
I don’t know everything about writing. 😮 I know. You’re shocked right? Actually, there is much that I do not know about it. This was my chance to learn. You can’t be a sponge if you spit everything back out now can you? I got a pretty good amount of feedback on my writing and on my specific book. I took everything in and tucked it away. Now that I am home I will go through that feedback and determine what I need to apply and what I don’t. But the important thing is that I took it all in. Sometimes we can be quick to disregard criticism because it isn’t comfortable to hear, but I learned that I cannot grow without it.
I was in learning mode, so I asked lots of questions regarding my writing. I also learned that I needed to ask questions about other people. Not just the “What do you write?” one, but other questions about their personal lives. If I spend too much time talking about myself, I am robbing myself of the opportunity to get to know a new friend.
Savor the ups
I tried to enjoy as much as possible. Just the fact that I was able to attend this conference was a good thing. I tucked the ups into my memories so that I can pull them out when I am alone and discouraged in my writing cave.
Don’t dwell on the downs
Yes, I did have some downs. I wish I could say I didn’t, but the downs did two things for me. First, the downs made me appreciate the ups more. Second, I took a short time to wallow in the downs so that I could get them out of my way. Then I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and got back to the business of doing what I love – writing.
What is my passion?
One of the most important things that I learned from this conference was that I need to follow my passion where my writing is concerned. What is it that God and I want to do with my writing? If you don’t figure out what your passion is, you may spend too much time just spinning your wheels.
Leave it in God’s hands
This goes back to the passion thing. Once I figure out what my passion is, then I need to give that to God and let Him pave the way for me. I can’t keep second guessing myself and worrying about it. I need to do what He requires of me, which is to write, and the rest I need to leave in His more-than-capable hands.