Every year I've been to ACFW, I've always taken away SOMETHING. It's different every year, and many times, it has little to do with the actual craft of writing. (although I learn a lot about that too!!)
2008 - My first conference. I was as green as green could be. I learned that not all agents are created equal, that writers were my PEOPLE because I'd finally felt as if I'd come HOME, and that friendship knows no age. (I roomed with two amazing women who were decades my senior but taught me a ton!)
2009 - My second conference. I learned that my book doesn't completely stink with a critique with the fabulous Deb Raney. I got my first "request" for my manuscript from an agent. I learned a LOT more about craft. This was the year that I clearly saw what a "ladder" filled journey writing was going to be. It wasn't a sprint, but a marathon. And that's okay!
2010 - 2011 - I missed these years due to the birth and health of my 4th daughter. BUT.... these years also saw my first contract and me signing with my first agent. LOTS happened these years even though I missed conference. What a whirlwind!
2012 - My third conference. My first book released the same month as conference! There was NOTHING like seeing MY book in the bookstore for the first time. My big takeaway from conference, though, was this.... that my books make Jesus smile. That regardless of what readers think of my books, that JESUS is my captive audience and that I can't forget that pleasing HIM is my ultimate goal.
2013 - I crashed conference. With no money to go but a heart that needed to hug the necks of some amazing friends, I bummed a ride with a few other authors, crashed a friend's room with her permission, and hung out in the lobby for a few days. My take away? Friends are AWESOME and OH so critical. This was a huge refreshing time for me, because I was floundering.
2014 - My 4th technical conference, 5th attendance though.
My take away this year?
Stress is a choice.
Yup, you heard it. In past years, I've spent too much time stressing over agents and pitches and "do people like me" and "am I annoying?" and "they probably are just pretending to like me" and "i need to sit by ____" and "did I get a picture with ____" and "will this editor like me" and "will my agent think I'm a total dork"
But this year, I was in desperate need to DESTRESS from my life. Adding MORE stress was NOT an option.
So I made a decision.
I would not stress.
I took pictures when I could, but would go hours and hours with my phone safely in my pocket.
I didn't carry around my laptop to take notes or check social media or post pictures. In fact, I only opened it one time the whole trip, and that was to get a phone number off email.
I didn't worry about who I would sit with at meals, I just sat in a chair and chatted to those close by.
I didn't worry about who I would meet, I just enjoyed getting to know those around me.
I didn't worry about what people thought of me, if they didn't like it, well, that was their own problem.
I didn't worry about what time sessions were, although that did result in me going to a very small number of sessions. But ya know? I didn't worry about that either. I needed less stress, and to get that, I had to CHOOSE not to worry and just enjoy the time.
And I did. OH GOODNESS did I enjoy it. It was 100% exactly what I needed this year.
It was also a great reminder for me that, even on this crazy writing journey, worry and stress are optional. They are always there as an option, but choosing to let go to perfect and give in to God's perfect will offers such amazing freedom and PEACE.
What about you? What was YOUR conference takeaway?
If you didn't go to conference, let's chat about stress and worry. Do you do a lot of fretting about your journey? How can you change your CHOICE to NOT stress?