Friday, September 11, 2015

What Might Happen When You Attend a Writers Conference by Dawn Kinzer

Dawn Kinzer

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 hadnt 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:



  1. I'm not attending any conferences this year, but I'm hoping to make it to the RWA Natl Conference in 2016.

    Every aspect of writing forces a person to take a leap of faith, doesn't it? Those small steps lead to bigger ones. It's awesome to look back and see how far we've come. Enjoyed your story, Dawn. :)

    1. Thanks, Dora! Yes, pursuing any level of success with writing takes faith, as well as courage to put ourselves out there. Thankfully, as Christian writers, we have awesome opportunities to be surrounded by people who are willing to help and support us! ;-)

  2. One of these days I'll make it to ACFW. I've done Blue Ridge, which is close and well worth the time and money. What a great way to meet the people we communicate with everyday online.

    1. Sandra,I hope you do make it to an ACFW conference someday. I agree - conferences are really helpful in making new connections and strengthening those already made online. And Facebook (and other social media) is a wonderful tool for keeping contact with other writers.

  3. I love this post, Dawn. And I'm so glad for ACFW where we met! With this great list, you're a walking billboard for the benefits of ACFW membership. ;) Such a blessing to travel to some of their conferences together, my friend. Thanks for sharing this nudge toward courage and our of our comfort zones.

    1. Thanks, Annette! There are many reasons why I'm grateful to ACFW, but the awesome friendships I've made are definitely at the top of my list! The conferences wouldn't have been the same without you being my traveling companion.

  4. Dawn, I'm attending ACFW this year. If you're going to be there I'd love to meet you in person.

    1. That's awesome, Terri! I'm so glad you have the opportunity to go to the conference. May God richly bless that time for you. I'm not attending this year, but if I was, meeting you in person would definitely be a MUST! :D

  5. Great post, Dawn! A writers' conference really is transformational! I've attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference in 2011 and the Christian Writers Guild conference in 2013. I hope to attend the ACFW conference at some point. It would be wonderful to meet you in person!

    1. Melinda, those both sound like great conferences. Regardless of seeing each other at a writers event or not, I would LOVE to meet in person. I have this feeling that we could chat for hours! ;-)


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