Career

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?

 

 

Leave a Comment

Recent Questions I’ve Been Asked

Since becoming a literary agent, I’ve been fairly impressed with myself. It became obvious, almost immediately, that (judging from people’s respect for and faith in me) my IQ climbed 20-30 points and my expertise tripled once I began accepting clients. So, as you might imagine, I field quite a few …

Read More

Even the Best Get Rejected

[/caption]

I’ve written about rejection before and yet it is a topic that continues to fascinate.

Recently Adrienne Crezo did an article on famous authors and their worst rejection letters. I thought you might enjoy reading a couple highlights of that article and some additional stories I have collected over the years.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Alfred Knopf saying it was “impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.A.”
Read More

Writers Give to Others

My hope is that this headline is true. While the writing profession (or obsession as some describe it) is a solitary one, it is in giving to others where its impact can be felt.

Time

The gift of time is precious as we are given a finite amount in this life. To mentor another writer. To blog freely. To teach at a conference or school setting. All are example of a beautiful way to both give and receive.

Talent

To use your talent to its fullest is a gift to others. To hone that talent so that it crescendos into the heart of a reader should be the goal of every writer. This talent must be shared. To hoard it for oneself would be a travesty and tantamount to the deadly sin of greed.

Read More

The Book That Changed My Life

Books have changed my life, many times. The Bible has done so, of course, on an almost daily basis, as it has done for so many others. But, while it tops the list, other books have had huge impacts on me. Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle introduced me …

Read More

Lessons Learned As a Literary Agent

Dan is leaving the agency at the end of this month to focus his attention on the work of Gilead Publishing, the company he started in 2016. Here are some parting thoughts. _____ I’ve been a literary agent for about 2,000 of the 13,000 total days spent working with and …

Read More

Caution: Loose Platform Planks

I love learning about authors on the internet. And as a literary agent, I enjoy the internet and find connections there that would be otherwise difficult to find and maintain. But as professionals, we must be cautious about what we share on any level. One reason is that we all …

Read More

Eternal Words

Every time I read or hear a report of a prominent person’s life complicated by something they tweeted, posted or recorded a decade earlier, I hope the stories are a cautionary tale for anyone desiring to be a media communicator or public figure. We used to be able to put …

Read More

Four Myths about Fame

Being rich and famous solves every problem, right? Let’s give that some thought. 1)  Once I have my first book published, I’ll be famous and the journey will be downhill from there. We’re tackling two myths here. One, once you are published, it’s not likely you’ll be famous, at least …

Read More