Gems of Writing Wisdom from Writers Conferences

I attend and present at eleven or twelve writers conferences a year. That’s a lot. But it’s always a joy to renew friendships and talk writing and meet promising writers. It’s also amazing how much writerly wisdom flows at these events, some of it in such volume that attendees and faculty can struggle to hear and process all of it. So I thought I’d offer a little help and record here some (a small fraction, actually) of the things my faculty friends have said at recent writers conferences:

“If you self-edit your work (even before it goes to a freelance editor), you will separate yourself from the masses” (Eva Marie Everson).

“Something visual should be on each page. Don’t let important scenes be done offstage–put them right there in the story” (Lenora Worth).

“We’re all buds in God’s garden, waiting for our time to bloom. Some have started to open, some haven’t. Will you blossom?” (Marilyn Turk).

“The best thing I’ve ever done as a writer is that I didn’t quit” (Edie Melson).

“Nothing brilliant was ever written the first time around. You might have a great idea, but to make your work really shine, it needs a good spit and polish” (Taryn Souders).

“Nothing terrible happens to authors, just terrific anecdotes” (James N. Watkins).

“Your words are as individualized as your finger prints–powerful enough to touch hearts, lives, and transform nations” (LaTan Roland Murphy).

“When you deepen your story’s sense of place, your characters resemble actors shooting on location instead of on a sound stage” (Johnnie Alexander).

“Don’t marry your words. There are always better words, better phrases, better ways to say something. Having a teachable spirit helps prevent word divorce, and it nurtures the ability to craft words that make an impact” (Cindy Sproles).

“Add details to your stories by being the kind of person who assimilates life through noticing–taking time to filter and process. That’s why good writers are deliberate and focus on others. That’s why we choose to relish the moments and to listen and to look deeper. I cannot be a writer of details if I am always on the run.  Our readers don’t want us to tell them how to feel something or even what to feel. They want us to help them experience the situation so vividly that the lesson or emotion is naturally awakened within them” (Lucinda Secrest McDowell).

“Work for long-term success, and don’t expect to be discovered or make a big splash right away. Keep a notebook full of writing ideas, and don’t have everything ride on one dream project” (Susy Flory).

“If you get a rejection, don’t lose heart. Keep polishing, keep making connections, and keep at it. Success in publishing is often your proposal getting to the right desk at the right time. Always try again” (Vicki Crumpton).

“If God has called us through His Word, empowered us through His Spirit, and equipped us through His gifts, we can trust Him to open the right doors in His perfect timing. Our job is to pray fervently, write passionately, edit ferociously, and submit humbly, resting in the reality that God’s opinion is the one that matters” (Liz Curtis Higgs).

See what I mean? Good stuff. These kinds of gems and more are par for the course at any of the many fine Christian writers conferences around the country. What’s the most memorable thing you’ve heard at a writers conference?



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