Friday, August 8, 2014

Should You Go to Writing Conferences When You’re Not Writing?

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Are you currently writing? Maybe for one reason or another, you have put your novel pursuits aside. Sometimes it is related to life getting in the way. Or maybe you’re burnt out. Or maybe you’ve just felt God nudge you in more creative directions other than writing.

Should you be going to a writer’s conference if you aren’t writing?

And I don’t necessarily mean the big conferences like ACFW or RWA, but should you drop your memberships to the writing organizations or stop attending the local meetings? This is truly a personal decision based on where God has you right now in your writing journey. But here are a few reasons why I think you should keep maintaining the relationships in the writing community.

Friendships. Just because you aren’t writing right now, doesn’t mean that your friends are no longer your friends. Your friendships are not dependent on your desire or lack thereof to put your fingers against the keyboard and put words to screen. Amongst the Alley Cats, we have all gone through periods of not writing. There are several of us right now, (myself included) who are not writing at all. That doesn’t give less meaning to our community.

You can still learn. Since I’ve moved out here to Colorado and got involved with the local ACFW chapter, I’m still taking notes. I’m still getting involved in the meetings and I’m still thinking about my writing. I don’t have a timeline for when I’ll pick my writing back up, but until then, I’m happy to soak in the knowledge that is put in front of me. We can always learn—we might not be applying what we learned right away, but we’re still learning.

What does God have to teach you? I am blessed to be able to attend ACFW this year. But let me just say, I would not be going if I were not the Carol Awards Coordinator and had to be there for the awards ceremony. Because I do get the privilege of going, I’m heading in with my eyes wide open. I’m not looking to pitch. I’m not going to meet with agents and editors. I’m not even attending that many classes. So what is the point of my going? I’m going to reconnect with friends and mentors. I’ve requested mentor appointments so I can sit down and ask them questions on where I should go from here. I’m looking to be filled up and encouraged. And encourage others myself.

We all go through seasons. Seasons of drought. Seasons where we need to be filled instead of being the ones to fill. Seasons to sit back and soak it all in, instead of becoming actively involved. It’s okay to lurk on the edges of the writer’s community. It doesn’t make you any less apart of the crowd. It doesn’t make your time any less worth your while. You’re just waiting. Learning what it means to be at peace with the changes happening in your writing world.

And who knows? Maybe lurking on the edges will encourage you—fill you back up—to jump back into the deep end of the pool. Until then, we’ll wad together. :- )

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a total country girl, now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado. 


Krista Phillips said...

This is great advice, Casey! We all go through seasons... I went 2 years after my first book released in a big drought and time that I needed to focus on my family over my writing, yet, I"m so thankful I kept up my writing contacts/memberships. For one thing, it allowed my "platform" (as it may be) to stay intact, vs. dropping out completely.

Now, if God is calling you away from writing all together?

That's a different story. But we all need seasons where we lay fallow to recharge, and keeping your "toe" in is a great way to ensure you're ready when it's time to jump back in!

Casey said...

I agree! Someday, if I do go back to writing--and I probably will, I don't want to lose the platform I have built. Besides I seriously love the community that I'm a part of!!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Beautifully said, Casey. I so appreciate your encouraging nature. I'm so glad I get to see you at ACFW this year. :) Maybe it'll take being in STL to get us to sit down over a cup of coffee. ;)

Vie Herlocker said...

Casey--I love this blog topic. God moved me from writing to editing several years ago, and I'm considering a sabbatical to just be an observer for a while. A season of listening to God's direction with a full focus instead of a full plate.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I love this post...and I guess it is because it speaks to my heart and where I am right now. I love the friendships I have made in this awesome, generous writing community. Such great people!