“Tell me why I should go to the Asheville Christian Writers Conference,” my friend Melissa asked. “I’m swamped at work, discouraged about my writing, and behind on my W.I.P. (Work In Progress). I’m not sure I can afford the time away.”
Melissa and I have commiserated on the ups and downs of the writing life for years. She’s a seasoned writer who could probably teach most of the workshops at the conference. She doesn’t need another class on self-editing or how to write dialogue. Yet I still encouraged her to attend.
1. A writer’s life is hard. We get weary. We lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes we’re not even sure what the big picture is. A strategically timed Christian writers conference reminds us that we are not the genesis of our work—God is. It is “God, who is working in you, enabling you, both to will and to act for His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).
I get discouraged when I think it’s all up to me—that it’s my ideas, my creativity, my energy that propels my writing life forward. The wise mentors at a good Christian writers’ conference remind me this is backward. My responsibility is to pray hard, work hard, and trust God with the results.
2. If left to myself, I would work all day every day, always pouring out, and never taking in. And I would be an empty vessel with nothing left to give. Writers’ conferences fill me up again. Instead of wasting time, I’m actually investing time in my future writing. I come away inspired, encouraged, and filled with enthusiasm. I think I’m losing time, when in reality, I’m actually I’m gaining time, because the energy and inspiration I receive empowers and propels me forward.
3. Writers’ conferences remind me of why I love being a writer. From the starry-eyed newbies who just wrote their first blog post to the seasoned authors working on their tenth book, my fellow writers share the crazy desire to change the world through the written world and help me believe it can be done.
Who else cares whether I should use a serial comma? Who else spends 30 minutes combing through a thesaurus to find THE word? Who else goes without sleep, food, or showers to birth a book baby? Only crazy writers, God-called writers, God-inspired writers who get it and really understand that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God,” and that God is still using words to change the world.
4. Writers conferences give me space to breathe, and dream, and hope. The grind of the daily writing life squeezes this out. The beautiful mountains and wide sky of The Cove in Asheville lift my eyes beyond the page, my desk, and my life. They remind me that the world is big and beautiful, God is even bigger and more beautiful, and he created me to be part of his big, beautiful work in the world.
5. Writers’ conferences provide the opportunity to give back. Eddie Jones, one of the founders of this conference, was the first person who said to me, “This could be a book.” Two years later, it was. Cindy Sproles taught me a simple method for writing a Christian devotion. Three years later, a magazine paid me for my writing. Fellow writers I’ve met at this conference have become my mentors, colleagues, and friends. I wouldn’t be where I am today in my writing life if I hadn’t attended the Asheville Christian Writers Conference every year since 2011.
Whether I’m volunteering at the registration table, leading a workshop on how to use Pinterest to grow your blog, or praying for the conference leaders and directors, attending writers’ conferences gives me a chance to pay it forward. It allows me to invest in others the way others have invested in me—and repay a debt of gratitude.
6. Writers’ conferences introduce me to friends—friends who are interested in what God has called me to do. Friends who will talk me off the ledge when I’m ready to end it all. Friends who will snatch my manuscript out of my hands the second before I toss it into the flames. And friends who will help me feed it into the flames when necessary while simultaneously helping me plan the next, better, stronger project.
I don’t have the time or the money to attend a Christian writers’ conference every year, but I go anyway. The way I see it, I can’t afford not to.
I hope I’ll see you there.
Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She’s the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and has authored two devotional books, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women and Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. An award-winning Toastmasters International speaker and Christian Communicators grad, she uses her speaking and writing ministry to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time (www.LoriHatcher.com).