Tag s | Writers Conference

Vocabulary Word of the Day: Bifurcation

Some words are specific to a certain field of endeavor and some are flexible, used to describe something in a variety of arenas. One such word is our vocabulary word of the day: bifurcation.

Simply, it involves splitting something into two distinct parts. The prefix “bi” indicates two, so it is simple to remember the number of parts involved.

It is used in general science, medicine, law, mathematics and now, publishing.

Professional writers experience bifurcation when they work on one project for enjoyment and one project to make money. They might write poetry for their personal illumination and an article on road repair progress for the local news service, to pay their bills.

Many writers have diverse lives, working a day job and writing before and after wearing their literary “hat.” They experience bifurcation every day of their lives.

The successful writing of books however, requires an author focus on one thing, the successful publication of a book. This effort is not split into parts, writing and platform development, but one coordinated effort aimed at a goal.

Much as authors want to think writing and platform are separate and distinct, they are really part of the same effort. Your platform influences writing, your writing influences your platform.

Viewing them as separate and distinct places the Christian author in the conflicted position of judging one to be sacred and the other secular, the same type of conflict a pastor experiences between worship service preparation and church budget management.

The writer and pastor quickly learn both aspects of their work are important.

Authors can even experience a dangerous form of bifurcation when they consider writing as important, but platform as a necessary evil. One deserves your undivided focus and the other is done while holding your nose.

This never works out well.

Many times new authors will ask me for a checklist of what they should do to get started in professional writing. I’ll usually suggest something as simple as “Go to a writer’s conference.”

What they don’t realize is this recommendation is actually saying, “Go get a drink from a fire hose.”

If someone persists desiring an ordered checklist, I will usually make the comparison of an aspiring professional writer starting a small business, which is exactly what you are doing.

Anyone starting a small business knows even though you would prefer to be back in the kitchen making your special recipe cupcakes, you will need to become very familiar with all the issues of business law, government forms, taxation, health department requirements, commercial real estate, employment statutes, accounting, refrigeration units, roof repair, inventory management, and about forty other areas you might not have even thought about yet.

As a small business owner, what’s the first thing you do, other than pray for wisdom every day?


In the course of a day, you spend at least some time on just about everything.

Self-employed professional writing is like this. At some point you will not only need to do actual writing, but also continually learn more about professional writing standards, develop a platform, do some accounting, project management, social media trend study, computer management and roof repair, especially if you live and work in an older home! (Even if you have a full time job writing or editing, the addition of a freelance element requires you learn all about the above list for the part of your life not covered by an employer.)

The writer’s life could never be described as simple, easy, controlled, and predictable.

Certainly there is no bifurcation with the successful professional writer. No sacred versus secular. It is all one singular effort. The quicker the author accepts this reality, the sooner they can begin to realize their calling.


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Colorado Conference Report

This past week, for the first time, I attended the The Write His Answer Christian Writers Conference Conference, in Colorado, where I was honored to be on faculty. Marlene Bagnull, conference director, is a wonderful woman with a heart for God who really cares about writers. Her staff was always …

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Florida Christian Writers Conference Report

This past week I was privileged to be on faculty at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.  This conference is now being run by the lovely Eva Marie Everson and the wonderful Mark Hancock. I like to joke with Mark that he is my long lost relative. If our hosts had not agreed to take over, last year’s conference would have been the final Florida conference after 25 consecutive years. Instead, we had a great time and plans are in the works for next year!

I recommend this conference for a number of reasons. First, the size was ideal to form a sense of community and to have time for meaningful conversations with one another. The faculty included top professionals and enough appointment slots so I felt as though writers were able to meet with the people they sought. The staff made sure to accommodate those conferees who would only be able to attend a day or so.

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Get Thee to a Writers Conference

Guest blog by James Scott Bell

James Scott Bell is a bestselling thriller writer and long time friend. His most recent release is Don’t Leave Me. He is also the author of the #1 writing books, Plot & Structure and The Art of War for WritersIf you do not have them buy them today (He has five other must-have books on writing too.


I am asked all the time by ambitious, up-and-coming writers what they should do to get in the game. I tell them to do three things:

 1. Produce the words.

 2. Study the craft.

 3. Attend a good writers conference.

 The first is non-negotiable, of course. The most important thing a writer does is write. But that should be accompanied by a study of craft, because it does no good to put down words if common mistakes are being made and bad habits ingrained.

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To Conference We Shall Go!

The American Christian Fiction Writers’ conference (acfw.com) is just around the corner (Sept. 18-23 in Dallas, TX), and I’m seeing increasing buzz online about all the fun attendees are going to have. It’s true, too. Writers’ conferences are a lot of fun, especially those focused on the Christian market. In fact, I’ve equated them to church camp because the feel is very much the same. It’s a delight to be with folks you haven’t seen face-to-face for months, even years. And there’s just no joy to compare with being surrounded by folks who love words and writing and reading as much as you do. So it’s little wonder that people are excited. Heck, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to copious amounts of hugs and laughter and coffee shared with those of like mind and heart.

And yet, for all the great fellowship and teaching we’ll find at ACFW and other writer’s conferences, allow me to give two cautions.

First, be strategic. If you wanted to, you could do things from dawn to…well, dawn! Between workshops and teaching tracks, general sessions and panels, spotlight sessions and late-night events, author and editor meetings, brainstorming and marketing sessions…you can find something to fill every moment of every day. I know that’s the temptation, especially considering that conferences aren’t cheap. After all, you want to get your money’s worth, right? As true as that is, you also need to make sure you’re not overdoing it. (Consider reading some of the related posts linked at the bottom of the page.)

Writers’ conferences are among the most exhausting thing I do, and I’m an off-the-scale extrovert! For most of you folks, who tend to tip the chart at introvert with a capital I, writers’ conferences can pretty much do you in. Not only can you end up physically exhausted, but your emotions can run the gamut as well. Hopes rise and fall, dreams come true and crash and burn, and egos are inflated, bruised, and decimated.

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The Writers Conference Decision

The Right Conference?

As you pursue a writing career, one big question is how much time and money to devote to writers conferences. Conferences have many benefits, including the chance to meet face to face with editors and fellowship with writers. Some writers have plenty of time and money and love to attend conferences because the events get them out of the house and they enjoy meeting other writers. There is nothing wrong with attending conferences for these intangible benefits, and just for fun. But writers with more modest resources may want to ask themselves questions before choosing a conference.

Do I need to attend writers conferences to sell books? 

No. Many successful writers have never attended a conference. Some aren’t able to break away because of family and day job commitments. Others can’t spare the money. Most agents accept submissions from writers they’ve never met, and editors often buy books from writers they’ve never met. And it’s possible to meet through other ways than conferences. So if attending a writers conference isn’t possible for you right now, don’t despair. Just keep writing and submitting your best work. The time and money to travel will come at the right point in your career.

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