My First Writers’ Conference Experience
So about a month ago I attended the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference in Orange County. This was my first writers’ conference ever. And it was an awesome event. It was life-changing. So I want to share a little bit about that experience with you guys. I’m all about cutting through all the overwhelm so that we can just get writing, and this event really helped me to do that in a few different ways.
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I shared about my experience (in a little less detail) on Facebook live last week. If you’d prefer to watch the video or read the transcript, click here.
Who will you meet at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference?
You might meet some of your favorite authors, and you might find some new favorites. I was really excited to get to hang out with Chautona Havig because we’ve been friends online for a while now, and this was the first time we actually met face to face. I also got to do a few workshops with Robin Patchen, and I’ve reviewed a few of her books. So that was a lot of fun.
And you may find some new favorite authors too.
You’ll find them leading workshops. You’ll find their books in the bookstore. But you may find them in the seat next to you in class too. I kept checking nametags, but when I sat next to JL Crosswhite, it was actually an accident! I’ve been on her email list for months, and a few of her books were sitting in my TBR folder on my Kindle. (You know what I’ve been reading this week! And just in time for the next one to come out!) That was really a blast.
People at Writers’ Conferences are Great Resources!
You’ll also meet some people that will be great resources no matter your experience level or station in “writing life.” You’ll meet editors. You’ll meet agents. You’ll meet publishers. You’ll meet book reviewers (like me!). Indies, you might meet someone who does book production services for indies like my friend Marji. You might get connected with a publicity group like Celebrate Lit. Because not everybody who’s an indie wants to actually DIY everything. (Unless you’re just nerdy about learning new obscure things, like me!)
Fun fact: Janie & I met at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference, and now I’m helping build her website! It’s a win-win that never would have happened if we weren’t standing around in the bookstore chatting in between sessions. And, okay, we might have taken over a meeting room after one of the evening sessions too.
Writers’ Conferences are THE Place to Meet Writer Friends
And the culture of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference just attracts really amazing people. Even though you’ll meet awesome authors and great resources, my favorite group of people that you’re going to meet at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference are those new friends. Maybe you’ll even meet friends that live close to you!
Now obviously this conference is in SoCal and there are a lot of SoCal people at this conference. I’m one of them. But I saw some Texas folks getting connected and getting to know each other. Not everybody here is from SoCal. So even if you’re not from this area, you can still find some friends that live near you.
That’s part of why I went. I knew that I needed relationships. We need relationships. So I went to the conference, and I stayed in the dorms for that purpose. People’s city names were on their name tags, and I went and looked for San Diego name tags and Vista and Carlsbad and Oceanside tags and I found a few of us. Now we’ve actually created a Facebook group for North San Diego Christian Writers. We’re going to be doing some things locally, because we need friends who are going on this journey with us who can learn and grow with us and just hang out. People who aren’t writers, they don’t always get us, right? As Jarm Del Boccio shared in her post about the conference, it’s a great place to find your tribe.People who aren't writers, they don't always get us, right? #writers #socalcwc Click To Tweet
You Will Learn A LOT at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference
I took about 60 pages of notes, and I haven’t even listened to the recordings yet. I haven’t even really processed most of the notes. Right now I’m just working through one section at a time. (Don’t get post-conference overwhelm!)
So what are you going to learn at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference? That’s really up to you. What you learn is going to depend on where you’re at in your writing career, which workshops and classes that you choose to attend, as well as your own approach and the questions you ask. So you go to lunch with people and you choose to sit in the crowd of somebody that you want to learn from. You’re going to learn different things.
Here are just a few of the things I learned: I learned Seven Best Ways to Come up with a Killer Concept (for your nonfiction book) from Bob Hostetler’s continuing session. I learned about writing fiction faster with Greta Boris and I learned about how to write great back cover copy. One class that was a lot of fun was Aurora and Chautona‘s Effective Non-Smarmy Book Marketing Workshop. (I think that might just have the best title for a class!) I also really enjoyed Building Your Story Scene by Scene with Robin Patchen. Those are just a few of the workshops that I took.But here's the thing. Everything I learned at SoCal Christian Writers' Conference was super actionable. #socalcwc #writersconference Click To Tweet
But here’s the thing. Everything I learned at this conference was super actionable.
I walked away not just having the knowledge of what I needed to do, or even how to do it, but in some cases having already done it while I was sitting there. I felt like I moved forward in those three days, from one step to the next. That was pretty special.
How Will the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference Make You Feel?
I think that even though I learned an incredible amount (and I still have so much to learn from all those notes!), and I met some awesome people, the way a conference makes you feel is pretty important too. Does it change how you think? How you feel about yourself? How you feel about writing, and especially your writing?
You’re going to feel encouraged if you go to this conference.
You’re going to feel prayed for. In fact, Tonia Colleen Martin said that the prayer was pretty much the best part. Here’s what she said:
On another note, the most powerful & personal event for me was prayer with Patricia Durgin. I don’t know if it is kosher to post about something so intimate, but it is the truth and I am so grateful & still astonished at the experience. Thank you Patricia A Durgin…so much is unfolding in my life as a result. Thank you for being Jesus to me. I did not realize the depth of my yearning to hear from Him & hear I did!
She heard from God because somebody took the time to pray with her. But the prayer team there also prayed for us as we signed up and even before we showed up. I was really blessed to find out that some of my friends had been praying for the door to open for me to be able to attend this conference. That was really special. So you’re going to feel prayed for and you’re going to feel God moving in your life.
When God Meets Writers
Shawna Marie Bryant described our “tailgate session” like this: “The closing session at #SoCalCWC2019 turned into a powerful, spirit-filled, goosebump-inducing prayer meeting.” I was there, and I have to agree. Because Shawna and her team prayed for a shift. They prayed (and continue to pray!) breakthrough in the Christian writers’ community. It has begun.Click To Tweet
And you’re going to feel inspired and motivated to take next steps. That’s what I’ve heard from so many people after we came home. We’re all fired up. “Let’s get this done now!” Because we know what to do, and we’ve got that energy.
The Defining Word
And the word that stood out to me the most about how I feel about this conference and how I feel about me after this conference is the word validated. Some people in my regular life know I’m a blogger. Some of them don’t. Not a lot of people think of me as a writer. I’ve had professors tell me to write, and I knew this was something that I wanted to do.
But there was a point, within the first few hours of the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference, where I stopped talking about wanting to write and started talking about what I was actually writing. I felt validated. Like these dreams and this calling that God has placed on my life, it’s the real deal. And I know that that sentiment was shared by so many other people there. (As I’m editing this, though, I wonder if like Nancy I think in italics too much.)
Conference Culture Matters
The organizers of this conference have really intentionally prayed over and selected every event and every speaker to create a culture that is so encouraging and inspiring and motivating. And you don’t feel like an outsider even if you’re brand new. Even if it’s your first time, if you’ve published many things or you’ve published nothing. If you are ready to call yourself a writer, you belong here. You belong at SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference and I hope I’ll see you there next year! I’m already excited about it and I’ve got eleven months to go!