I felt like a bit of a fraud when I signed up for the Faith and Culture Writers Conference last year. I had recently started blogging and openly confessed it was more for my coaching business than my love of writing. I knew I had to ‘get my name out there’ to grow my business so I started blogging. However, I was surprised by how quickly my love of writing grew! Blogging and tweeting connected me to a world of wonderful people. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to meet them in person. So I signed up for the conference with fairly low expectations and mainly to learn from others.
I was thrilled with my experience! The conference drew a unique, beautiful and gifted group of people together. It was clear by the ethos, speakers, and conversations taking place, that there was more going on here than just “networking” and “skill obtaining/improving.” People were making deep connections with each other and the connections previously made on line were being lived out in the flesh. Writing is such a heart-felt enterprise that it makes sense people would be deeply moved when hearing speakers like Sarah Bessey and Deidra Riggs while sitting in the company of fellow writers.
In addition to the depth, it was downright fun. I read a tweet by @TamaraRice describing it as “One big awkward blind date” and another person was commenting on how we should write our twitter handles on our name tags because we are often more familiar with them. Although I laughed in every session, I also witnessed deep transformation.
For example, so many of the conversations I had while waiting for a session to start involved women telling me they came to hear Sarah Bessey. Now I am a Jesus Feminist, I read Sarah’s blog and appreciate her voice but I always found her words encouraging and similar to the way I’ve thought for a while. However, I met more women at this conference whose lives were deeply changed by Jesus Feminist (and Sarah’s blog). Women were finding their voice for the first time because someone told them they mattered. Strangers welled up in tears as they talked about how writing had changed their life. I knew I would be back the next year and began to wonder about it.
As I continued to blog and coach (and coach bloggers), I grew in my understanding of how important the practice of writing and sharing your words means to people. Our passions, frustrations, encouragements and challenges all come out when we write. The more writers I coach the more this rings true.
Because writing is so vulnerable, our identity is put on the table.
What will people think of this writing? What does it say about me if I write this or that? I want to be successful. I don’t want to be one of “those” writers. The list goes on. Our identity is wrapped up in what we write, for good or bad. And when you put a bunch of writers together this only gets heightened. But this conference seemed to be taking strides to approach this differently. Instead of competition and comparison, there was a spirit of camaraderie and encouragement. It made me want to get more involved!
I sent an email to Cornelia, the Conference Director, with some ideas about how I would love to further serve this creative crew.
Continue reading here to find out more about how I’m going to be involved (and if you’re interested, sign up yourself!)….