Like people, writers conferences come in all sizes. I’ve attended smaller, but still awesome, conferences like the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference held every spring in the Seattle area. I’ve also enjoyed the benefits of larger gatherings for a number of years.
Some of you might be preparing to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference next week, which will be held in Dallas, Texas. If so, maybe it’s your first time—or perhaps it’s become a yearly event on your calendar.
Regardless of whether you’re a newbie or a conference pro, along with the excitement of what could happen, it’s not surprising that many attendees are also a little nervous about what might happen.
Most of us like to remain in our comfort zones, don’t we? It’s easy to stay with what’s familiar. So, we may opt to play it safe rather than risk failing and feeling disappointed or looking stupid.
But what if we were willing to leave that protected space?
In 2005, I found the courage to travel from Seattle to Nashville for my first ACFW conference. I hadn’t been a part of the organization for long, and the only member I’d had any personal contact with lived in Arizona. We shared interest in a particular story topic and had communicated a bit through e-mail. She was attending the conference and had already committed to sharing a room, so she connected me with an author who was looking for a roomie.
This nervous introvert got off the plane alone, determined to step out of her comfort zone and be intentional about meeting people. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. That trip changed my life.
My roommate turned out to be an outgoing person (as you know, many of us writers are introverts) who not only knew tons of people, but who was willing to take me under her wing and introduce me to her friends and professional acquaintances. I had an amazing time, it was a huge growing experience, and the result was that I attended six national conferences after that one. Those events helped me create close friendships with other writers, taught me to network with professionals in the industry, and gave me a strong foundation for knowing what it takes to make it in the publishing world.
If I’d never ventured into that scary territory, I might have given up on pursuing a writing career.
Instead, I did the following:
- Challenged myself as a writer
- Survived—and even learned to enjoy conference appointments with agents and editors
- Learned how to set up and manage my blogs and websites
- Taught several workshops at local writers conferences
- Left one job to start an editing business
That’s just a small list, but the point is, my life would look completely different now if I hadn’t taken any risks. So, I try to be brave and leave my comfort zone when opportunities arise. I’m not always successful, but I’m getting better!
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NIV)
You never know what might happen when you attend a writers conference. You might experience some disappointment—but you might also have the time of your life!
Are you attending a conference this coming year? What concerns do you have? What are looking forward to?
Dawn Kinzer is a full-time freelance editor. Her own work has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Backyard Friends, The One Year Life Verse Devotional (Tyndale), A Joyful Heart: Experiencing the Light of His Love (Guideposts), and featured on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home.
A mother with two married daughters and one grown stepdaughter, she lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. With great joy, they welcomed their first grandchild into the family and are looking forward to another addition in 2016. Some of her favorite things: dark chocolate, popcorn, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theater.
You can learn more and connect with Dawn at these sites: