I recently returned home from teaching at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference, held in Portland, Oregon. It was a grand time of sharing and laughter, learning and listening. Here are the main lessons I brought home with me from this time spent in the company of fellow writers:
1. Even with all the changes, there’s still a lot to celebrate in the publishing world. From contracts with traditional publishers, to the creation of new publishing houses, to the new opportunities open to writers ready to step up, this seems to many to be the optimum time to be a writer.
2. The right partnerships have never been more important. From agents to publishers to editors, marketing gurus to website creators, cover designers to indie advisors, surrounding yourself with the best publishing team is, quite simply, imperative. Proverbs 15:22 is an excellent motto for today’s writer: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.”
3. If you do nothing else, you MUST find a way to engage your readers—and to do so as early in the process as possible. There are so many avenues available to writers today through the Internet that it can be overwhelming. But here’s the good news: You DON’T have to do it all! Take them a few at a time, experimenting to see which ones match your message and personality best. All it takes is finding one or two that really capture your readership, and you’re on your way to solid reader engagement.
The most important lesson of all, though, is this: Community is vital. If you’re feeling confused, lost, discouraged…you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in very good company. Many writers are facing struggles, some having to do with writing, some having to do with life. But all affect our ability to be creative, to meet deadlines, to do what we need to do. But what I saw at the conference, over and over, was the restorative power of shared tears and laughter. Especially with those who truly understand what you’re dealing with. Just stepping away from the pressures for a brief time and talking, praying, laughing with someone is the best medicine possible.
I found that at this conference, as did many others. But you can find it in smaller groups, too. In a critique group or even just a critique partner. In a regular coffee group made up of writers. We don’t always have to talk about writing…sometimes we just need to talk about life. Doing so will lift our spirits and remind us why we’re doing this in the first place. To minister to others.